Do Diets Leave You Micronutrient Deficient?

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The shortage of essential micronutrients in the human diet has been linked to multiple health and disease related problems. Dr Bruce Ames has described how the micronutrient triage theory can account for disease induction and more rapid levels of poor quality aging. I have written about the expensive urine myth and how the failure to recognise the differing demands placed by cells at different times can lead to altered and compromised health function.

This paper looks at the nutritional intake of people following a weight loss diet.[1] Based on the USA figures, the authors say that about 1/3 of the population are following some sort of weight loss orientated nutritional programme. The study looked to see if 27 micronutrients could be ingested in sufficient quantities whilst following 4 well known diets to meet minimum RDA levels as determined by the USA regulatory body the FDA.

Four popular diet strategies; The Atkins Diet, The South Beach Diet, the DASH diet and the Best Life Diet were evaluated. The results were evaluated looking at calories and micronutrients, allowing for deficiencies to be extrapolated.

The analysis confirmed that none of these programmes met the RDA for all 27 micronutrients, the outcome was that the average intake of 1748 Kcal provided only enough micronutrients to meet 12 of the 27 RDA’s.

Further analysis of the four diets found that an average calorie intake of (27,575 +/- 4660.72) would be required to achieve sufficiency in all 27 micronutrients. Six micronutrients (vitamin B7 (Biotin), vitamin D, vitamin E, chromium, iodine and molybdenum) were identified as consistently low or nonexistent in all four diet plans.

These findings are significant and indicate that an individual following a popular diet plan as suggested, with food alone, has a high likelihood of becoming micronutrient deficient; a state shown to be scientifically linked to an increased risk for many dangerous and debilitating health conditions and diseases.


One study in the Journal of Obesity recently found that adding a food supplement to meet nutritional shortfalls in women undertaking a calorie restricted diet increased their weight loss and suggests that the declining availability of essential nutrients whilst on these diets – and others, may reduce the weight reduction benefits obtained and will also add to micronutrient deficiency risk related conditions. These include blood sugar management and thyroid health, two commonly related complications linked to failure to maintain weight control.

The other question, is that if these people following carefully created diets are unable to meet even half of the recommended RDA’s there is a great likelihood that many people eating a ‘normal’ diet to them, will also be deficient. The use of food supplements to meet these shortfalls have many potential benefits.


[1] Calton JB. Prevalence of micronutrient deficiency in popular diet plans. J Int Soc Sports Nutr. 2010 Jun 10;7(1):24. [Epub ahead of print] View full Paper

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