Health Update: Micronutrient Deficiencies Worse Than We Thought

Hello to all:

A timely new study has revealed that micronutrient deficiencies (vitamins & minerals essential to our body functions and health) are surprisingly common and are causing significant illness around the world, plus they are just as bad in the U.S. as in much poorer countries. This is extremely important considering previous work shows that even chronic insufficiencies can cause disease, so it is even worse with deficiencies. An insufficiency is when you have just enough of the nutrient to prevent deficiency signs and illness, but not enough to function optimally…in other words if you are chronically insufficient it will eventually create a disease or illness. However, if you are deficient, you are unwell on some level and you are brewing illness and trouble. This kind of trouble often becomes very expensive in terms of time, money, and suffering. Here is the news plus a link to the paper on insufficiencies:

Key messages from the authors:

• Micronutrient deficiencies compromise immune systems; hinder child growth, development, and school performance; and limit human capital worldwide.

  • 1 in 2 children and 2 in 3 women worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies.

  • Micronutrient deficiencies are surprisingly high even in high-income countries, such as the US and UK, where between 1 in 3 and 1 in 2 women are deficient—iron deficiency alone is prevalent among 1 in 5 women in both countries.

  • The decades old estimate that 2 billion people worldwide suffer from micronutrient deficiencies is a major underestimate. More and better data on micronutrient status are urgently needed across all strata to be able to quantify the total global burden, and better target solutions.

  • Solutions to address micronutrient deficiencies include improving access to micronutrient-dense foods, such as animal-source foods, dark green leafy vegetables, and beans, lentils, or peas; fortifying staple foods and condiments; developing crops that are more nutritious (biofortification); and providing supplements to those with extra needs.

“In the absence of specific predisposing conditions, a usual North American diet is sufficient to prevent overt vitamin deficiency diseases such as scurvy, pellagra, and beriberi. However, insufficient vitamin intake is apparently a cause of chronic diseases. Recent evidence has shown that suboptimal levels of vitamins, even well above those causing deficiency syndromes, are risk factors for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, and osteoporosis. A large proportion of the general population is apparently at increased risk for this reason.”

Bottom Line: If you are not doing so already, now is the time to eat right and consider taking a high quality multivitamin and multimineral. Sooner or later, the consequences of not eating optimally will become dramatic and awful. It is totally appropriate to view symptoms as early warning signs or as a wakeup call telling you that things are going wrong. If you want to avoid or diminish future suffering, and if you want to extend your healthspan and your lifespan, eating right is essential. In my experience, one cannot out supplement a poor food plan. It may seem obvious, but I will say it anyway: to be your best at anything in this life requires that we treat our health as a duty and an obligation. So, invest in your health so that you can be of optimal service and make the most of your life.

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