Based on a survey conducted by the Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (CNPP) what people perceive they eat as opposed to what they really do eat varies considerably. According to the USDA the average person should eat daily: 4 servings of fruit, 5 servings of vegetables, 6 oz of grains, 5.5 oz of meat and/or beans, 3 cups of milk, 6 tsp oil and 267 discretionary calories which may include 8 tsp of sugar and 18 grams of solid fat. These portions might allow an individual to meet their Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals.
The Recommended Daily Allowance of vitamins and minerals are merely the minimum intake of nutrients an individual can consume in order to maintain health. These levels will prevent diseases related to nutritional deficiencies such as beri beri, scurvy and rickets. However, in order to achieve optimal health an individual must consume levels considerably higher than those outlined in the RDA.
Based on the survey conducted by the CNPP both men and women consumed much more fat and sweets and considerably fewer fruits and vegetables than they perceived they did. (CNPP survey) This would indicate that although people think they are getting their required minimums for vitamins and minerals per day in all actuality they may not be.
Diseases related to nutritional deficiencies such as beri beri, scurvy and rickets were at one time thought to have been eradicated. However, according to the Journal of The American Academy of Pediatrics there has been a resurgence in the number of reported cases of rickets. Rickets is a disease which leads to softening and weakening of the bones and is usually attributed to a Vitamin D deficiency. Despite the obesity epidemic in this country a resurgence in diseases associated with nutritional deficiencies would indicate that we are not getting adequate nutrients from our diets.
So if you are interested in knowing if you are receiving adequate amounts of nutrients from your diet I challenge you to keep your own 14 day food diary. Track everything that you eat daily for 14 days broken down based on the RDA guidelines. Just keep in mind that supplements are in addition to a healthy diet and not in lieu of a healthy diet.
I would love to hear from people about the results of this challenge. Are you meeting the guidelines?