Micronutrient Deficiency in Several Diet Plans

6:47 AM Posted by jo

The other day I read an interesting research paper by Jason B Calton from the Department of Nutritional Research and Education at Carlton Nutrition. He  evaluated several popular diet plans to see if they contained sufficient amount of 27 different mircronutrients. He shares his findings in the research paper, Prevalence of Micronutrient Deficiency in Popular Diet Plans.

Carlton mentions studies have been done that have shown a strong link between overweight/obesity and micronutrient deficiency. One study found that a micronutrient deficiency in the subjects increased the likelihood of becoming obese or overweight.

Nutrition professionals at nutrition.gov state that healthy individuals can get all the minerals and vitamins from a well balanced diet. However, that statement ignores what Drs. Fairfield and Fletcher of Harvard University found and used as a base for the new guide lines for the Journal of American Association (JAMA). Dr. Fletcher writes " even people who eat five daily servings of fruits and vegetables may not get enough of certain vitamins for optimum health. Most people, for instance, cannot get the healthiest levels of folate and vitamins D and E from recommended diets." Their study shows that the micronutrient deficiency may be more common than originally thought.

What about the popular diet plans on the market? Do they provide sufficient nutrients? More than two-thirds of the U.S population are over-weight, and according to research, one-third are on a diet at all time.

Carlton evaluated daily menus  from popular diet plans such as The South Beach Diet, The Best Life Diet, the Dash Diet and Atkins for Life Diet. The food composition data from the U.S Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database for Standard Reference was used to determine the calorie and micronutrient content of each ingredient in each meal.Total calories, sufficiency and deficient micronutrients were identified. For the evaluation menus from three days from each plans were chosen.

According to the analysis, none of the four diet plans managed to provide the minimum RDI sufficiency for all the 27 micronutrients that they tested for. On average the diet plans were sufficient in 11.75 of the 27 micronutrients that were analyzed and contained about 1748.25 calories. In order to meet the sufficient amount of RDI for the 27 micronutrients an intake of roughly 27,575 calories were required. Nutrients like vitamin d, vitamin E, iodine, chromium, B7 and molybdenum were non existent or very low in all four diet plans.These nutrients were removed from the requirements and an additional analysis was conducted. This reduced the amount of calories needed in order to meet 100% sufficiency to 3,475 calories for the other 21 micronutrients.

Carlton states that it is pretty obvious that following any of these diets makes a person micronutrient deficient. 65 millions of Americans are on some sort of diet believing that once they are skinny they will be healthy.

 The micronutrient sufficiency percentage and calorie for all four diets was 43.25% sufficiency and 1,7848 calories. This means a dieter using any of these plans would be 56.48% deficient in micronutrients. 15 out of the 27 micronutrients are lacking.

It is also obvious according to Carlton that a whole food diet would not promote RDI sufficiency of 27 micronutrients. All four plans promote themselves as being healthy and offer balanced diets. Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains are recommended, but they don't provide for 100% sufficient RDI.

The common thought is that as long as you are losing weight and become skinny, you are improving your health. Millions everyday are following these kind of diets believing it will make them skinny and healthy. It is  known that micronutrient deficiency leads to serious health conditions as well as obesity and over weight.

I personally promote a long lasting lifestyle change without counting calories or dieting by using whole foods and eating according to your body type. I found this study pretty interesting and I know many who constantly try new diets. It also proves my opinion that you can't receive all the nutrients you need from the food  alone. I  realize the value of supplementing an already good diet with extra supplements. 

Thanks for visiting!


Johanna is an aromatherapist and an independent distributor of Young Living Essential Oils.  She is passionate about educating people about health, essential oils, real food, natural remedies, and nutrition so they make healthier choices in their lives. She received her aromatherapy education at the American College of Health Care Sciences. 

Follow Johanna on twitter and facebook for more health tips and information. Explore her new aromatherapy new blog and find out how you can get her e-book for free. Johanna is also the founder of the new network blog, Living Well Moms, and her posts are published every Monday.
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