Weight-Loss Strategies Can Affect
Risk of Micronutrient Deficiencies
At a Glance:
While losing weight carries many health benefits, cutting
calories may inadvertently lead to cutting micronutrient
intakes as well. Researchers have found an increased risk
of vitamin and mineral deficiencies in females using certain
Read more about this research below:
Cutting excess calories is a key component of all successful
weight-loss strategies. However, consuming less food can lead
to lower micronutrient intakes if individuals aren’t careful.
Researchers from Stanford University recently conducted a
study among 300 overweight or obese women who were
randomly assigned to follow one of four popular weight-loss
diets: Atkins, Zone, LEARN, or Ornish. Dietary surveys were
administered at the start of the study and after two months of
weight loss. From that data, intake levels of 17 vitamins and
minerals were estimated.
Regardless of which diet was used, participants were able to
reduce their calorie intake from an average of 2000 calories/day
to 1500 calories/day. (One pound of weight loss requires a net
reduction of 3500 calories.) Somewhat unsurprisingly, that reduction
in calories led to a reduction in vitamin and mineral intake for many
participants. Vitamin E was the worst nutrient affected, with more
than 65% of women receiving inadequate levels while following
their diet guidelines. Overall, 12 of the 17 nutrients measured saw
differences in intake levels between the start and end of the study.
One way to compensate for potential micronutrient deficiencies is
use of a quality multivitamin supplement. However, of the four
diets examined in this study, only one recommended use of a
supplement, and only 3 participants followed that recommendation.
The researchers also found that in some individuals, risk of
micronutrient deficiencies actually decreased when participants
placed an emphasis on replacing calorie-dense, nutrient-poor foods
with low-calorie, nutrient-rich foods.
This research emphasizes the importance of choosing a weight-loss
strategy that focuses on more than just cutting calories. A proper
weight-loss strategy must also focus on healthy dietary choices,
including an emphasis on adequate vitamin and mineral intake.
Gardner CD, Kim S, Bersamin A, Dopler-Nelson M, Otten J, Oelrich B,
Cherin R. Micronutrient quality of weight-loss diets that focus on
macronutrients: results from the A TO Z study. 2010. American
Journal of Clinical Nutrition 92(2): ePub ahead of print. Retrieved
online 14 July 2010.
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