According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) nutritional deficiencies are rampant in over-fed/undernourished America. Just a sampling from the USDA list of essential nutrients that are not consumed in sufficient amounts by a percentage of the population includes vitamin E (86.4%), folic acid (40.3%), magnesium (57%), potassium (92.4%), vitamin C (42%), zinc (29.2%). [Knowledge of Health]
The Recommended Daily Allowance for essential nutrients is generally too low and the above figures don’t even approach the massive nutrient shortages in the population at large.
For example, virtually every human being on earth is deficient in vitamin C when one considers humans internally synthesized their own vitamin C in the liver before a gene mutation halted that antioxidant mechanism many generations ago. [Medical Hypotheses 1977]
In winter months in North America the only people likely to have reliably sufficient vitamin D levels are those who take dietary supplements.
The answer to the problem of undernutrition is not always a better diet, though that helps. Nutrient gaps in the diet can be made up for with dietary supplements. Non-users of vitamin/mineral supplements are 2.5 times more likely to have a nutrient deficiency compared to those who adhere to a daily regimen of supplements. [DSM.com]
While public health authorities promote consumption of more fruits and vegetables, the public health initiative to eat 5-servings a day of plant foods fell flat in regard to mortality reduction [British Medical Journal 2010] and the current unproven recommendation to consume 9-13 servings of plant foods a day is largely unachievable and impractical. [LewRockwell.com]
Without enrichment of the diet many Americans do not achieve recommended nutrient intake levels. [Journal Nutrition 2011] Sadly, only 1 in 4 supplement users enriched their diet on recommendation of a health care provider. [JAMA Internal Medicine 2013]
Even more disconcerting, physicians are often quick to dismiss dietary supplements, saying they have been shown to be ineffective in published studies. But a major problem in societies with a large population of older adults is malabsorption of nutrients. The age-related decline in stomach acid and bile acid secretion is associated with ineffectiveness of dietary supplements. Provision of supplemental acid (betaine) and bile factors (taurine, vitamin C) may be necessary across the board in the senior adult population. All of the water soluble nutrients (vitamin C, iron, calcium, magnesium, B vitamins) require acid for absorption and all of the fat soluble nutrients (vitamins A,D,E,K and carotenoids lutein, lycopene and beta carotene) require bile acid.
Largely due to the decline in stomach acid secretion with advancing age (a prevalent condition called hypochlorhydria), one study showed that even after taking a multivitamin up to 8% were still deficient in vitamin B1 (thiamin), 33% deficient in niacin, 39% deficient in vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), 13% in folic acid and 18% in vitamin B12. [Geriatric Nutrition 1990]
The digestive tract of over half of the US population is infected with Helicobacter pylori, a bacterium that shuts off the cells that secrete acid necessary for nutrient absorption. [Minerva Gastroenterologica Dietologica 2011]
It is impossible to treat all the cases of H. pylori in the population at large with antibiotics, which would likely result in many cases of antioxidant resistant forms of this pathogen. So only the cases that cause gastric ulcers are treated.
Here again, dietary supplements that inhibit the growth of H. pylori would be in order for population at large — such as allicin from garlic, vitamin C, aloe vera gel, vitamin D and zinc carnosine. [Letters Applied Microbiology 2014; Indian Journal Pharmacology 2011;Biotechnology Progress 2004; Scientific Reports 2015; Clinical Review Allergy Immunology 2012; Canadian Journal Gastroenterology 2002]