The good news? We think we are eating well; in fact, 60 per cent say they eat a very healthy diet. The not-so-good news? Perception and reality may not be aligned. We are hardly eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, reveals recent research from supplement maker MegaFood. The discrepancy leaves a huge nutritional gap to fill.
The survey results highlight another knowledge gap between Americans and healthy eating — you can eat plenty of healthy foods, and still not get the recommended daily allowances of key nutrients. For example, 52 per cent of survey respondents say they think they get enough vitamin B6 in their diets. B6 is found in foods like bananas and avocados, plays an important role in producing fuel and energy, and is critical for optimal function of the brain, nervous, and immune systems.
However, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say 30 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B6. Multiple studies have shown many people don’t get the recommended amounts of needed nutrients every day, yet two-thirds believe they can get all the required nutrients by eating a healthy diet, according to the MegaFood survey.
As a result, the belief they don’t need a multivitamin is the top reason two in five people don’t take one. My experience consistently shows me that a large number of people live high-carb, high-sugar, caffeine-overloaded, stressed-out, no-exercise lives, says Dr Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognised expert in the fields of integrative medicine, herbal medicine and dietary supplementation, and author of National Geographic’s Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More.
“We may have good intentions when it comes to eating well, but the truth is that many of us fall short of an ideal diet — and even when we do our best to eat well, it is extremely difficult to get all the nutrients we need on a regular basis with diet alone.”
What you can do
It is possible to take steps to improve nutrition. Dr Low Dog offers these tips:
• Know the nutrients you should be getting and the recommended daily amount for each. The National Institutes of Health provide online tables for recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, based on age and gender.
• Do your best to eat a balanced diet; it delivers health benefits beyond vitamin sufficiency. Be sure to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.
• Supplement your good eating habits with a quality multivitamin.