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Understanding Nutrients’ Role in Good Nutrition

Jun 29, 2015 05:14AM, Published by Family Features, Categories: Family Features, Family Features Lifestyle

When it comes to personal health, there is a gap between Americans’ nutritional needs and how well they’re being met. A new survey shows consumers are overly confident about their diets and essential nutrient intake.

The survey, conducted by DSM Nutritional Products, showed that while consumers want to improve their overall nutrition and wellness, they don’t know where to start, and say they are confused about the science behind nutrition recommendations. What’s more, while research published in the Journal of Nutrition shows only 10 percent of Americans get the recommended amount of essential nutrients, such as vitamin D and vitamin E, from food alone, 57 percent believe they do.

“The survey helped us identify barriers to better nutrition,” said Will Black, DSM vice president of marketing for human nutrition and health in North America. “With this information, we can work to raise awareness about the nutrition gap of essential nutrients, and resolve conflicting and confusing information about how better nutrition can fill that gap.”

Maintaining adequate nutrition begins with understanding the role of essential nutrients, Black explained. However, through its survey, DSM revealed varied awareness of nutrients and the impact they have on health. For example, most are familiar with vitamins D and E, while only about half are familiar with the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA. Fewer still are familiar with lutein and zeaxanthin.

“For optimal nutrition, you need to understand the best natural sources of important vitamins and ensure those nutrient-rich foods are the foundation of your diet,” said Elizabeth Somer, R.D. “However, research shows that most Americans don’t get the optimal level of nutrients from diet alone, and that’s where supplements can play an important role in overall health.”

Start assessing your nutritional intake by knowing how these important, but little understood, nutrients contribute to your overall health and where you can find them:

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, known often as the “sunshine vitamin,” that functions as a hormone in the body to regulate the way calcium is metabolized. It is especially critical for bone health in adults and children.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant vitamin; it is found in nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and greens, and plays a role in eye, heart and brain health.

DHA and EPA omega-3 fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that are essential nutrients for many aspects of health. They are found primarily in fatty fish like salmon and are especially good for eye, heart and brain health. DHA is particularly important for expecting and new mothers and their children.

Lutein and zeaxanthin are members of the carotenoid family that are found in many green leafy plants, such as kale and spinach, and other colorful fruits and vegetables. These antioxidant nutrients help to support visual function by filtering out potentially harmful high-energy blue wavelengths of light that come into the eye. Research has shown that lutein and zeaxanthin support eye health.

Visit to learn more about the important role of vitamins for health, wellness and disease prevention.

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family eating)

Sponsored by DSM

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