Majority of Americans fall short of vitamin D

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Well-known for its role in keeping bones strong, vitamin D is now being hailed for so much more – from normal muscle function to a healthy immune system.  Yet despite the growing research on the power of vitamin D, seven out of 10 Americans still fall short of the recommended vitamin D in their diets each day, according to the recent Dietary Guidelines Committee Advisory report. In fact, vitamin D is one of the four nutrients of concern identified in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which means the low intake is a public health concern for children and adults.

Even with warmer spring weather on the horizon and more time outdoors soaking up the rays, the sun can't be counted on to supply all the vitamin D Americans need, especially if sunscreen blocks the ultraviolet rays that our bodies use to make vitamin D. Doctor of public health, registered dietitian and well-known author Dr. Wendy Bazilian ("The SuperFoodsRx Diet") encourages the nation to look to their diets for vitamin D, especially during National Nutrition Month, which is dedicated to nutrition education.

"Vitamin D is a true super nutrient and Americans can help close the vitamin D gap by taking simple steps like pouring one more serving of lowfat or fat free milk each day for their families," says Dr. Bazilian. "Milk is the leading source of vitamin D in our diets, supplying more than half of the nation's vitamin D, along with a unique combination of key vitamins and minerals we all need each day. And, of course, it tastes great."

Vitamin D: Super Nutrient

There have never been more reasons to get your D. There's an abundance of new research suggesting vitamin D is a super nutrient, offering an array of health benefits. Research continues to reveal that vitamin D also helps support normal muscle function and a healthy immune system, in addition to working with calcium to help build strong bones and healthy teeth.

Despite the "super" status for vitamin D, Americans of all ages still appear to be coming up short. A new research report called "What America's Missing," which analyzed government food consumption survey data, identifies a total of 11 "gap nutrients," including vitamin D, along with calcium and potassium, which make up three of the "nutrients of concern" identified in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee's report.

Nearly 70 percent of Americans ages 2 and up fall short of the recommended vitamin D in their diets. The problem could be even worse as Americans get older. And with diet alone, less than 10 percent of men and women older than 50 years meet the recommendation, according to the recent 2010 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee report. Experts even suggest the chronic low intakes of vitamin D have been behind the resurgence of rickets – a severe vitamin D deficiency that results in bone deformities.

Pour One More Serving of Liquid Sunshine

With the average American falling far short of the recommended three 8-ounce servings of lowfat or fat free milk and milk products, it's no wonder there is a significant vitamin D gap. The recommended three glasses of lowfat or fat free milk a day provide 75 percent of the Daily Value of vitamin D.

In fact, milk is the single greatest contributor of vitamin D in the American diet – no other food contributes more of this essential nutrient.  It's practically liquid sunshine. And it's an American favorite – milk's already in the fridge in 96% of U.S. households.  Grabbing the gallon and pouring one more serving of milk each day is an easy way to help close the vitamin D gap – whether it's filling up a glass, adding milk to cereal or oatmeal, drinking a latte or making a smoothie. Beyond vitamin D, milk is packed with eight other essential nutrients, including calcium, potassium and vitamin A, which many Americans also lack.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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