Although Use of Dietary Supplements is on the Rise, Some Ethnic Groups Have High Vitamin Deficiencies

Overall, the U.S. population has good levels of vitamin A and folate in the body, but some groups still need to increase their levels of vitamin D and iron, according to the "Second National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition," released recently by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).


The report found the highest rates of vitamin D deficiency in non-​Hispanic African-​Americans (31%) despite clinical data showing greater bone density and fewer fractures in this group. Further research is needed to explain why non-​Hispanic African-​Americans have better bone health yet have a higher rate of vitamin D deficiency. According to the report, the vitamin D deficiency rate for Mexican-​Americans was 12%, while for non-​Hispanic whites, it was 3%.


Findings were not as encouraging with regard to the iodine status in young women (ages 20 to 39 years). This age group had iodine levels that were just above iodine insufficiency. The young women also had the lowest iodine levels among any age group of women. Iodine is an essential component of thyroid hormones that regulate human growth and development. Iodine deficiency disorders include mental retardation, hypothyroidism, goiter, cretinism and varying degrees of other growth and developmental abnormalities. Iodine is especially important in women during childbearing years to ensure the best possible brain development of the fetus during pregnancy.


Using a new marker of iron status, the report indicated higher rates of iron deficiency in Mexican-​American children ages 1 to 5 years (11%) and in non-​Hispanic African-​Americans (16%) and Mexican-​American women (13%) of childbearing age (ages 12 to 49 years) when compared with other race/​ethnic groups. The new iron marker measurements will help clinicians better interpret iron status in individuals, especially in persons with chronic disease that includes inflammation, such as certain cancers.

"Research shows that good nutrition can help lower people's risk for many chronic diseases. For most nutrients, the low deficiency rates, less than 1% to 10%, are encouraging, but higher deficiency rates in certain age and race/​ethnic groups are a concern and need additional attention," said Christine Pfeiffer, lead researcher in the Division of Laboratory Sciences in CDC's National Center for Environmental Health.


According to a survey released recenty by the Council for Responsible Nutrition, the overall use of dietary supplements is on the rise with 69% of all Americans reporting that they use supplements, up from 66% in 2010. For the 3‑in-​10 of consumers whose supplement purchasing habits have been affected by the economy, many are engaging in a variety of money saving tactics, including buying fewer supplements as a means to save money; buying supplements only when they are on sale; and purchasing less expensive supplement brands.

CRN SVP communications Judy Blatman notes that "even in the midst of trying economic times, dietary supplements are not something consumers are willing to sacrifice."  "While they certainly are looking for ways to save money, they clearly know the value of using dietary supplements to promote overall health and wellness,” she said.

[Source:  "Second National Report on Biochemical Indicators of Diet and Nutrition,"  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  3 Apr. 2012.  Web.  13 Apr. 2012.]