Many Americans do not meet recommended intakes of calcium and vitamin D, despite the important role these vital nutrients play in bone health during all stages of the lifecycle. Researchers set out to determine calcium and vitamin D intakes among specific subpopulations of Americans in order to identify those most in need of fortification/enrichment and supplementation. Their findings are now available in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, the Official Publication of the American College of Nutrition and a publication from Routledge.
This study used data from the 2001 - 2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). The combined sample totaled 227,528 participants who provided dietary intake data and personal information regarding gender, age, race, weight, household income level, dietary supplement use and vegetarian status. The National Cancer Institute method was used to estimate usual calcium and vitamin D intakes by source; these figures were compared to the established Dietary Reference Intakes for U.S. residents over the age of three.
"Our results showed for the first time that low-income, overweight, and/or obese minority populations may be at a greater risk of calcium and vitamin D insufficiency," said Dr. Taylor C. Wallace. "The results show that large portions of the U.S. population do not obtain adequate calcium and vitamin D intakes from food alone." Children aged 4-8 years were more likely to obtain recommended dairy intakes compared with older children and adults of all ages. Food intakes of calcium and vitamin D decreased with age in adults. Adults who used supplemental calcium and vitamin D showed a lower prevalence of insufficiency. Calcium and vitamin D intakes from food and dietary supplements were not related to vegetarian status. Excessive intakes of calcium and vitamin D above the tolerable upper intake level (UL) were low among all studied populations and "over-nutrification" was not widely present across these analyses.
The results carry an important practical application as they may be used to help focus public health and awareness campaigns and messaging related to the significance of these two nutrients in maintaining optimal bone health.