According to a newly released report, “America's Phytonutrient Report: Immune Health by Color,” American adults who fall short in meeting their recommended daily fruit and vegetable intakes, are also likely to fall short in vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium, all nutrients research suggests may support a healthy immune system. America's Phytonutrient Reports are released by The Nutrilite Health Institute.
"During cold and flu season, it is especially important that Americans eat a variety of colorful plant-based foods which provide phytonutrients and important immune-boosting vitamins and minerals too," said Keith Randolph, PhD, technology strategist for Nutrilite. "Our previous research documented that, on average, eight out of 10 American adults have a phytonutrient gap. And now we find that those Americans with a phytonutrient gap are falling short when it comes to immune-boosting nutrients too."
Using NHANES and USDA data that show what Americans eat, the report found that intakes of vitamins A, C and E, zinc and selenium were consistently higher among people who meet their fruit and vegetable recommendations based on government guidelines. For these select vitamins and minerals, people who meet their fruit and vegetable recommendations compared to those who do not, consume: more than double (125%) the vitamin C; nearly two-thirds more (59%) vitamin A; 47% more vitamin E; 20% more zinc; and 16% more selenium.
Overall, data support the need for more plant-based eating among Americans. And yet, data from the original “America's Phytonutrient Report: Quantifying the Gap” found that only 3-12% of American adults meet their fruit and vegetable intake recommendations.
By simply adding more fruits and vegetables into their daily diet to up phytonutrient intake, Americans may not only be better equipped to avoid the cold and flu this season, but they may save money too. In the U.S. alone, the common cold is estimated to result in $2 billion spent in over-the-counter medication, and can be blamed for approximately 23 million absentee days from work. A total economic impact of $40 billion annually could potentially be reduced with changes in dietary habits.