Population proportion below micronutrient DRIs

For a recent post about multivitamins on the American Society for Nutrition’s blog, I used the most recent NHANES data with nutrient data available (2009-2010) along with current Dietary Reference Intake (RDA or AI) values to estimate the proportion of 4 American population groups below the DRI for 21 micronutrients (males and females, age 19-30; males and females, over 70), and the proportion of the groups below if they all took a Centrum Adults multivitamin. Here they are reproduced in a larger form:

graph1 graph2

Data from NHANES 2009-2010, day 1 dietary intake, weighted. Nutrients for CentrumĀ® Adults from centrum.com. Nutrients are an RDA unless starred*, which are an AI.

I also calculated that on average, 11 micronutrient DRIs are met while only 0.5% of the population achieves all 21 DRIs. It is quite striking as a visual as we don’t commonly consider that we are lacking in many nutrients.

Caveat: it should however be noted that there is the issue of underreporting food intake with NHANES so it is possible that the proportion of the population below the DRIs is smaller.

While this looks like a lot of tedious work, I automated much of it with Python’s csv module, which took less than a night’s sleep to consolidate the data and compute the proportions even though NHANES spreadsheets are quite large.