Could Micronutrient Deficiency be a Missing Link in the Fight Against Overweight/ Obesity?
Published in the Journal of the American Association of Integrative
Medicine Summer 2010
America today, perhaps none is as widespread and potentially devastating as
overweight/ obesity. According to Dr. Richard H. Carmona, M.D., a former
surgeon general of the United States, “Obesity is the terror within; unless we
do something about it, the magnitude of the dilemma will dwarf 9/11 or any
other terrorist attempt.(1) The problem with America's overweight/obesity epidemic
is twofold: not only are the rates not declining, no one can seem to stop them
from growing. According to Johns Hopkins researcher May Beydoun, “Obesity is
likely to increase, and if nothing is done, it will soon become the leading preventable cause of death in the United States.(2) While the media has focused largely on the rising number of overweight and obese adults, America's youth may be the ones suffering the most, with the overweight prevalence for children and teens having tripled since 1980.(3) It is hard to imagine that anyone living in America today has not been affected by the growing obesity pandemic in some way, whether personally, through family or friends, or by the rising costs of health care. While current research by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health shows that more than two-thirds (68%) of U.S. adults and one-third (33%) of U.S. children and adolescents are overweight or obese, the predictions concerning the future of obesity are even more sobering.(4) According to the study's lead author, Dr. Youfa Wang, estimates now predict that by 2015, 75% of all U.S. adults will be overweight or obese, by 2030 that number will be 86.3%, and by 2048 all American adults will overweight or obese.(5)
widespread America's micronutrient deficiency condition is. According to the USDA, 9 out of 10 Americans 2 years and older are deficient in potassium, 8 out of 10 are deficient in vitamin E, and more than 7 out of 10 Americans are deficient in calcium, and approximately 5 out of 10 are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin C and magnesium.(13) In addition, in a recent study published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the popular diet plans that millions of Americans are following each year to lose weight, such as the Atkins for
Life diet, the DASH diet, The Best Life Diet, and the South Beach Diet, were found to be deficient at providing minimum Recommended Daily Intakes (RDI) of 27 essential micronutrients.(14) The study determined that on average, these diets left their followers deficient in
15 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B5, vitamin B7, vitamin D, vitamin E, choline, chromium, copper, iron, iodine, potassium, magnesium, sodium and zinc.
micronutrient deficiency.(16,17) Making matters worse, even those individuals who religiously take their daily multivitamin pill are not immune to becoming micronutrient deficient. It turns out that due to something called “micronutrient competition,” many of the vitamins and minerals found in the typical multivitamin may end up going right down the toilet. Research published in both the British Journal of Nutrition and Harvard Health Letter shows that natural competitions for absorption between many vitamins and minerals, including copper and zinc and calcium and iron, could make it so that unless a multivitamin is specially formulated to prevent micronutrient competition, many of the micronutrients in the multivitamin are simply not absorbed.(18,19)
The fact is, new research is showing that micronutrient deficiency is much more of a widespread problem than previously thought. It has been proven to increase the risk factor for multiple heath conditions and diseases in both adults and children, including diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and many cancers.(20) In addition, kids who start out with micronutrient deficiencies and never correct them may be putting themselves at risk for developing all of these diseases at a much earlier age. With so many people worldwide affected by overweight/obesity, coupled with the recent research showing clear links between micronutrient deficiency and overweight/obesity, it seems prudent to further examine this potential connection. When all is said and done, a micronutrient rich diet, sunlight, and proper anti-competition supplementation could turn out to be our best defense against the potentially largest, most devastating health scourge of the 21st century—the obesity pandemic.
- US Department of Health and Human Services. The Obesity Crisis in America. Surgeon General’s Web site. https://www.surgeongeneral.gov/news/testimony/obesi- ty07162003.html. Accessed March 13, 2008.
- Obesity rates continue to climb in the United States. Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Web site. https://www.jhsph.edu/publichealthnews/press_ releases/2007/wang_adult_obesity.html. Accessed March 8, 2010.
- Ogden CL, Carroll MD, Curtin L, McDowell MA, Tabak CJ, Flegal KM. Prevalence of overweight and obesity in the United States, 1999-2004. JAMA. 2007;295:1549-1555.
- Wang Y, Beydoun MA. The obesity epidemic in the United States—gender, age, so- cioeconomic, racial/ethnic, and geographic characteristics: a systematic review and meta-regression analysis. Epidemiol Rev. 2007;29:6â€“28
- Wang Y, Beydoun MA, Liang L, Caballero B, Kumanyika SK. Will all Americans be- come overweight or obese? Estimating the progression and cost of the U.S. obesity epidemic. Obesity. 2008;16 10, 2323-2330. doi:10.1038/oby.2008.351
- New report: adult obesity increases in 28 states. Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Web site. https://www.rwjf.org/newsroom/product.jsp?id=65468. Accessed September 4, 2010.
- Hendrick B. Obesity rate swells in 28 states. WebMD Web site. https://www.web- md.com/diet/news/20100629/obesity-rate-swells-in-28-states. Accessed September 4, 2010.
- Asfaw A. Micronutrient deficiency and the prevalence of mothers’ overweight/obe- sity in Egypt. Econ Hum Biol. 2007;5(3): 471-483.
- Not enough vitamin D in the diet could mean too much fat on adolescents. Physorg.com Web site. https://www.physorg.com/news156088325.html. Accessed March 8, 2010.
- Campbell RC, Campbell PP, Reinhardt T, and Gilsanz V. Vitamin D status and its relationship to body fat, final height, and peak bone mass in young women. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2009;94:67-73. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-0051
- Kumar J, Muntner P., Kaskel JF, Hailpern MS, Melamed LM. Prevalence and asso- ciations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D deficiency in U.S. children: NHANES 2001-2004. Pediatrics. 2009;124: e362-e370
- Ginde A, Liu MC, Camargo CA Jr. Demographic differences and trends of vitamin D in-sufficiency in the U.S. population, 1988-2004. Arch Intern Med. 2009;169(6):626-632.
- US Department of Agriculture. Nutrient Intakes/All U.S. USDA Human Nutrition Products & Services. https://www.ars.usda.gov/Services/docs.htm?docid=15677. Accessed March 8, 2010.
- Calton J. Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010, 7:24
- Express Scripts Inc. More Americans are using more prescription drugs. https:// www.reuters.com/article/pressRelease/idUS148673+13-Feb-2008+BW20080213. Accessed September 6, 2010.
- Langsjoen PH, Langsjoen, AM. The clinical use of HMG CoA-reductase inhibitors and associated depletion of coenzyme Q10: a review of animal and human publications. BioFactors. 2003;18:101-111.
- LaValle JB. Recogizing drug induced nutrient depletion in chiropractic practice. https://www.chiro.org/nutrition/FULL/Recognizing_Drug_Induced_Nutrient_Depletion.shtml. Accessed September 6, 2010.
- Sandstrom B. Micronutrient interactions: effects on absorption and bioavailability. Br J Nutr. 2001;85(suppl 2): S181-S185.
- Harvard Medical School. Nutrition’s dynamic duos. Harv Health Lett. 2009;34(9).
- Mann D. Vitamin D deficiency common in U.S. children. CNN Web site. https://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/08/03/vitamin.d. children/index.html. Accessed March 8, 2010.