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Bad News for Vitamins? New USDA Dietary Guide in the Works

Overall, I think the direction the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) and the HHS (Department of Health and Human Services) are taking with revising the dietary guidelines for Americans is a good one. I can get on board with their recommendations to lower sodium, fat and sugar intakes and to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables.

But there is one phrase, pointed out by the Natural Products Association (NPA), that should concern us all: "...a daily multivitamin/mineral supplement does not offer health benefits to healthy Americans."

“When less than 25 percent of the U.S. population eats the recommended serving of five fruits and vegetables daily, how are Americans to get the vitamins and minerals they need?” says NPA Executive Director and CEO John Gay. “Advice to cut off a reliable and safe nutrition source, such as a daily multivitamin, doesn't seem logical or responsible.”

It seems as if the writers of the draft released this week, which will become the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans after it is finalized later this year, specifically targeted the nutritional health supplement industry. One group (the food producers represented by the USDA) is telling Americans not to buy the products of another group (the vitamins and health supplements industry). Sounds like marketing. Which is fine. But marketing is different than guiding.

Positive New Additions for 2010
Again, many of the new additions to the 2010 dietary guideline are good. Here are a few that I think most will agree on:
  • Fewer Calories: most people only need to take in around 2,000 calories a day to maintain their current weight. The problem is, most Americans have no idea how many calories they’re eating on a daily basis.
  • Eat More Fish & Plants: the importance of the health benefits of omega3 essential fatty acids are clearly respected with the new guideline for increased intake of seafood for the population at large. Also, we should be getting more nutrients straight from vegetables, beans, fruits, nuts and seeds.
  • Eat Less Meat: the 2010 draft takes the old guideline on meat a step further. Currently, we are to choose lean meats like poultry. In the new guide, not only are we being told to choose lean meat, we’re told to limit that intake to “moderate amounts.”
Public comments are being accepted (and encouraged!) on the report through July 15, 2010. So if you have suggestions or objections to the current draft--which will become the guide for the next five years--make your voice heard.

Sources:

http://www.npainfo.org (more natural health information from an industry group)
http://shine.yahoo.com (more details about the new guidelines)

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