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Even in the USA, the elderly have difficulty in achieving an adequate vitamin intake

February 22, 2016

In the USA, 50% of people aged 70 years or older did not consume the EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) for vitamins D, E and K, and 35 to 40% for vitamins C and A. Whilst for the B vitamins, the percentage of older people failing to meet the EAR was between 1 and 30%.

A new study (1) using the NHANES (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey) data from 2003 to 2008 has demonstrated that elderly people aged over 70 in the USA are deficient in the major vitamins. It also demonstrated that this deficiency is related to income, with the poorest being most at risk. For example, for vitamin B6, folic acid and vitamin K, 13.7%, 9.5% and 56.7% respectively were below the EAR (Estimated Average Requirement) where the household income exceeded USD 75,000 per year, whereas the equivalent figures for the poorest group (i.e., less than USD 25,000 per year) were 31.1%, 19% and 75.3%. Overall, the data demonstrated that 50% of people aged 70 years or older did not consume the EAR for vitamins D, E and K, and 35 to 40% for vitamins C and A. Whilst for the B vitamins, the percentage of older people failing to meet the EAR was between 1 and 30%.

People aged 70 years or older generally have poorer appetites and have impaired absorption of most nutrients, so it is even more important that an intake equivalent to the EAR is achieved.

It has been previously demonstrated that the regular use of supplements can address this problem effectively (2), where the authors showed that the number of elderly men below the EAR for vitamin A, vitamin E and folic acid decreased from 53%, 93% and 75% to 4%, 14% and 7% respectively.

References

  1. Troesch B, McBurney M, Weber P & Eggersdorfer M.; “Adequate Vitamin Intake Remains a Challenge for a Large Part of the Elderly Even In Affluent Societies”, International Journal of Food and Nutritional Science 2016; 3(1), 1–6. DOI: 10.15436/2377-0619.16.035.
  2. Sebastian RS, Cleveland LE, Goldman JD et al.; “Older adults who use vitamin/mineral supplements differ from nonusers in nutrient intake adequacy and dietary attitudes”; J Am Diet Assoc 2007; 107(8): 1322-1332.