• Will The Dietary Supplement Critics Please Stand Down

    Posted December 10, 2017: by Bill Sardi

    Dietary supplements make a major contribution to achievement of nutritional adequacy among U.S. adults and a comprehensive multivitamin would benefit most U.S. adults.

    That conclusion is drawn from a landmark study just published that shows the American diet falls abysmally short of meeting nutrient requirements to maintain health.

    In fact, it appears the only group of Americans that achieves nutritional adequacy takes dietary supplements!

    The bar for adequacy is set too low

    The problem is far worse than the study reveals.  Nutrient adequacy was determined by consumption of the Estimated Average Requirement (EAR), which is the intake level for a nutrient at which the needs of only 50% of the population will be met.

    The Recommended Daily Allowance would be a better measure of adequacy, which is two standard deviations above the EAR for a given nutrient.  The RDA represents the average daily dietary intake levels that is sufficient to meet the nutrient requirements of nearly all (97-98%) healthy individuals as assessed in a group.  Even then, the RDA is woefully misleading.

    Don’t rely on the RDA either

    The caveat is “healthy individuals.”  Millions of Americans require more than the RDA level of nutrients because of a lack of stomach acid that impairs absorption; because they take drugs that deplete nutrients; because they are pregnant, diabetic, smoke tobacco, habitually drink alcohol; are mentally stressed; or have special needs that require target nutrient such as lutein for the eyes.

    For example, lutein, a yellow pigment derived from marigold flower petals and included in dietary supplements for eye health, is just now, after over 20 years of research, being nominated for inclusion as an essential nutrient.

    Public health authorities have been able to pull the wool over the public’s eyes for too long.  The RDA for vitamin C is 90 milligrams; for vitamin D 600 international units (IU).  Neither of these doses of vitamins would significantly raise blood levels.

    For optimal health, dietary supplements need to raise blood levels of vitamin C to that of other mammals that are not genetically flawed and synthesize their own vitamin C internally.  Dietary supplements need to raise circulating vitamin D levels to that of sun-exposed lifeguards.  The Institute of Medicine now concedes a statistical mistake misestimated the need for supplemental vitamin D by a factor of 15.  At optimal blood levels of vitamin D, mortality rates from all causes decline steeply.

    For smokers, diabetics, alcohol imbibers, pregnant women, and those who take nutrient-depleting drugs, in other words, millions of Americans, the RDA is inadequate.  This oversight ensures the medical industry has sufficient disease to treat with inappropriate drugs.

    Multivitamin best

    Short of nutrient fortification of foods, a scientifically updated multivitamin would make a significant impact on health and longevity.

    According to the most recent annual survey (2016) conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN), about 71% of U.S. adults, or more than 170 million Americans, reported taking dietary supplements; 53% of U.S. adults take a multivitamin, a percentage that needs to rise if public health is to be adequately maintained.

    The study comes in the wake of another report published in the US Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Morbidity & Mortality Weekly Report that found only 12.2% of US adults meet recommended fruit intake levels.

    While the most common reason why American adults take dietary supplements is to maintain health, this study suggests Americans need to take multivitamins to fill nutrient gaps in the calorie-rich/nutrient poor American diet.

    Less than 5% of dietary supplement users in the study exceeded the Safe Upper Limit for nutrient intake.

    At odds with organized medicine

    This recently published study stands at odds with organized medicine’s dismissal of dietary supplements.  For example, an article published in 2013 in the Annals of Internal Medicine entitled “Enough Is Enough: Stop Wasting Money On Vitamin And Mineral Supplements,” claimed there “no clear evidence of a beneficial effect of supplements on all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease or cancer.”  Yet the vitamin pills studied were impotent and poorly designed.  This author rebutted that 2013 report.

    Here are the results of the most recent study (2017) for readers’ examination.  ©2017 Bill Sardi, Knowledge of Health, Inc.

    USUAL INTAKE OF NUTRIENTS FROM FOODS & SUPPLEMENTS/
    PERCENT BELOW ESTIMATED AVERAGE REQUIREMENT

    NUTRIENTS

    Age 19-50

    Age 51-70

    Age 71+

     

    Food Only

    Food + Supp

    Food Only

    Food + Supp

    Food Only

    Food + Supp

    Calcium
    EAR 800-1000 mg

    1065 mg
    27.5%

    1157 mg
    22.7%

    956 mg
    51.4%

    1192 mg
    34.6%

    846 mg
    72.9%

    1135 mg
    47.7%

    Copper
    EAR 2.0 mg

    1.34 mg
    4.6%

    1.60 mg
    4.1%

    1.35 mg
    4.1%

    1.68 mg
    3.1%

    1.17 mg
    9.6%

    1.60 mg
    6.7%

    Iron
    EAR 6 mg

    16.1 mg
    6.2%

    18.7 mg
    5.0%

    15.1 mg
    <1.0%

    18.2 mg
    <1.0%

    14.4 mg
    2.07%

    18.6 mg
    2.0%

    Magnesium
    EAR 330-350 mg

    319 mg
    47.8%

    337 mg
    43.0%

    312 mg
    51.3%

    351 mg
    41.9%

    267 mg
    68.6%

    311 mg
    55.2%

    Selenium
    EAR 45 mcg

    121 mcg
    <1.0%

    133 mcg
    <1.0%

    110 mcg
    <1.0%

    137 mcg
    <1.0%

    91.9 mcg
    2.4%

    118 mcg
    1.5%

    Zinc
    EAR 6.8-9.4 mg

    12.3 mg
    10.1%

    15.2 mg
    8.08%

    11.3 mg
    17.9%

    16.1 mg
    12.6%

    10.3 mg
    26.1%

    17.8 mg
    16.4%

    Vitamin A
    EAR 500-625 mcg

    622 mcg
    1130.8 IU
    47.3%

    853 mcg
    1187.0 IU

    38.2%

    700 mcg
    1272 IU
    39.2%

    1099 mcg
    1997.9 IU

    28.2%

    666 mcg
    1210 IU
    37.4%

    1254 mcg
    2279 IU

    23.0%

    Thiamin B1
    EAR 0.9-1.0 mg

    1.73 mg
    4.2%

    4.19 mg
    3.5%

    1.59 mg
    6.0%

    7.06 mg
    4.1%

    1.46 mg
    8.9%

    7.50 mg
    5.3%

    Folate B9
    EAR 320 mcg

    582 mcg
    8.3%

    740 mcg
    6.4%

    543 mcg
    10.6%

    798 mcg
    7.4%

    503 mcg
    17.0%

    820 mcg
    10.3%

    Vitamin B6
    EAR 1.1-1.6 mg

    2.26 mg
    4.0%

    4.70 mg
    3.2%

    2.03 mg
    15.6%

    6.38 mg
    10.5%

    1.87 mg
    22.4%

    6.44 mg
    14.0%

    Vitamin B12
    EAR 2.0 mcg

    5.51 mcg
    2.3%

    32.4 mcg
    1.7%

    5.18 mcg
    5.2%

    69.8 mcg
    3.3%

    4.91 mcg
    4.9%

    101.0 mcg
    2.8%

    Vitamin C
    EAR 60-75 mg

    84.6 mg
    44.6%

    141.0 mg
    35.2%

    89.5 mg
    42.1%

    192.0 mg
    28.7%

    82.5 mg
    44.2%

    214.0 mg
    25.4%

    Vitamin D
    EAR 10 mcg
    400 IU

    4.83 mcg
    193.2 IU
    94.8%

    10.6 mcg
    424.0 IU

    73.5%

    4.83 mcg
    193.2 IU
    94.6%

    18.1 mcg
    724.0 IU

    53.3%

    5.06 mcg
    202.4 IU
    95.5%

    20.7 mcg
    828.0 IU

    44.4%

    Vitamin E
    EAR 12 mg

    8.69 mg
    83.8%

    19.4 mg
    64.1%

    8.59 mg
    85.0%

    32.8 mg
    55.3%

    7.35 mg
    91.7%

    41.2 mg
    52.1%

    * EAR = Estimated Average Requirement is the intake level for a nutrient at which the needs of 50% of the population will be met. Source: NUTRIENTS Volume 9, Issue 12, Dec. 2017
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