Although people in developed countries tend to think they’re getting all the vitamins they need from their diet alone, that’s not necessarily so. In fact, you’ll find that the richer countries of the world often harbor very serious hidden cases of malnutrition because they have access to an abundance of food that appeases the appetite without really supplying nutrients. Canadian research shows that only one in six Canadians gets enough fruits and vegetables and worse, only one in twenty gets the recommended amount of grain products – these are the foods rich in nutrients our bodies need regularly.
Most countries have guidelines to help you know how much of certain vitamins you need. Many of these guidelines were based around the US Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA)
Let me tell you how these came about. The RDA’s were originally set up by the National Academy of Sciences, during World War II, as general guidelines for feeding the country’s soldiers. They were then further used to ensure that healthy people under optimal circumstances (i.e., no illness, no genetic weakness, no environmental toxin exposure) would not develop nutritional deficiencies resulting in diseases such as scurvy or beriberi. Today, of course, preventing deficiency is not enough. Research is showing everyday that vitamins are implicated in much more than just deficiency, and in fact, higher levels are needed for optimal health and the preventing of modern day chronic diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular disease and cataracts – just to name a few. The RDA only guarantees a minimal rather than an optimal level of nutrition.
The sad truth is that many people all over the world don’t even meet the minimal levels outlined in the RDA guidelines. Each person is unique with different nutritional requirements at different times in their lives, so even he most conscientious and well-informed person might not be getting everything that his or her body needs.
Take a look at some of the conditions that require an additional nutritional boost:
|Adolescence||Emotional or Physical Stress||Pregnancy|
|Illness||Alcohol Consumption||Rapid Physical Growth|
|Athletic activity||Menstruation||Time Change|
This is by no means a complete list and I haven’t even touched on body pollution – those internal and external toxins which, in fact, are the biggest threat of all to your health.
You can see that while dramatic vitamin deficiencies such as scurvy and beriberi are now uncommon in developed countries, a less than optimal intake of certain vitamins is almost standard, particularly among the elderly. According to a recent USDA survey more than 80 percent of women and 70 percent of men consumed less than two-thirds of the very conservative RDA recommendations for one or more nutrients. No wonder chronic diseases are o the rise!
Here are just some of the problems that can arise when we don’t get the nutrition we need. Low levels of vitamin D can lead to osteoporosis and bone fractures. Research showed that 50% of a group of postmenopausal women admitted to hospital with hip fractures were deficient in vitamin D. sixty-two percent of female adolescents in India in the winter had low vitamin D concentrations and 13% were deficient. Low levels of the antioxidant vitamins (beta carotene, E and C) may increase risk for several chronic diseases such as cancer, arthritis and heart disease.
A lack of folic acid and vitamins B6 and B12 is now known to place you at risk for cardiovascular disease, colon and breast cancer, folic acid is even more crucial for pregnant woman – a deficiency has been associated with a greater risk of the baby being born with spina bifida. In fact, if all women of child bearing age used multi-vitamins with folic acid, neural tube birth defects such as spina bifida would be reduced by about 70%.