Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Government Designs a Functional Food


It's 1996. Can you name one of the most, if not the most, prevalent vitamin deficiency in the US?

Here are a few vitamins to pick from:
  • Vitamin C
  • B Vitamins:
    Pantothenic acid
  • Vitamin A
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K
No Googling. I'll be right back with some clues.

Clue #1:

It's probably the most common vitamin deficiency among people who drink lots of alcohol. (Alcohol reduces its absorption and increasing its excretion.)

Clue #2:

It's significant that the year is 1996 and the country is the US.

Clue #3:

Populations that moved away from plant foods in favor of animal foods for their calories increased their risk for this deficiency.

Clue #4 (And Beauty Tip):

Without enough of this vitamin, cell division slows because its needed to make new DNA. So, wherever there's a high cell turnover - skin, hair, red blood cells, cells that line the intestine, immune cells, neurotransmitters - there's a bigger need for it. Inadequate amounts result in skin inflammations, thinning hair, sallow (anemic) complexion, sallow (depressed) mood, sore tongue, intestinal grief, and insomnia.

Clincher Clue:

A deficiency of this vitamin leads to defects in the development of the neural tube in human embryos that were conceived, like, a few days prior.

Clincher Clue Addendum:

It's because young women in this country were engaging in conception activities and not happening upon the very tangible uterine outcome of such activities until after the vital few post-egg-fertilization, vitamin-requiring days had passed1 that the FDA in 1996 required all enriched grain products to be fortified with this vitamin.

That food-fortification requirement took effect in 1998. In light of supplement use in the US:

Source (pdf): NIH Office of Dietary Supplements,
Who Is Using Dietary Supplements and What are They Using

Some people, it was found, are now getting too much ... folate.

1 Since a missed period often prompts purchase of a pregnancy test, it's more likely that a woman will go weeks, not days, before considering the distention of her abdomen.

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