Many people may mistakenly think they have sufficient nutrient intakes

November 1, 2013

A new US survey suggests that at least six out of ten consumers wrongly believe they get enough micronutrients, such as vitamins D and C, to meet their needs.

In the study, 1,005 US adults aged 18 to 80 years were randomly invited to participate in a web-based sur- vey, investigating how much consumers feel they know about nutritional foods versus how many specific nu- trients they are consuming (1). To determine any gaps, the survey results were then compared to the find- ings of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The study results showed that there were many differences between how many nutrients people thought they were getting versus how much they were actually intaking. Vitamin D consumption proved to have one of the largest discrepancies: 68% of parti- cipants believed they were obtaining adequate daily vitamin D intake, but NHANES data shows that only 32% of the population actually meets the dietary reference intakes (DRIs) for vitamin D (600 IU for adults). For other micronutrients such as vitamin C (73% perception vs. 56% consumption) and potassium (61% vs. less than 3%) the discrepancy between perception and reality was also quite strong. For omega-3 fatty acids con- sumers had a comparably more realistic view, as only 50% believed they get enough omega-3 fatty acids to meet their needs.

The researchers concluded that the survey shows significant divergence between people’s beliefs about whe- ther they are getting sufficient amounts of many specific nutrients and the reality of their diets. While there is some disparity between perceived nutrient adequacy and actual nutrient intake, it is notable that most con- sumers recognize the benefits their food can offer, the scientists commented. Indeed, health-promoting foods and food components play an important role in meeting nutrient needs and improving overall health.


  1. International Food Information Council. Functional Foods Consumer Survey 2013. Perception Does Not Equal Reality When It Comes to Knowledge About Nutrient Intake. Published online October 2013.