Young women significantly deficient in key micronutrients

A study has suggested that diet and lifestyle trends promoted on social media are responsible for significant nutrient deficiencies in young women.

Researchers at Frontiers in Nutrition found that young UK women are particularly vulnerable to micronutrient shortages, after they sought to evaluate micronutrient intakes across different age groups.

Intakes of vitamin B6, B12, folic acid, riboflavin, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and iodine were found to be significantly lower in women than men in general (aged 20-59).

However, men were found to have significantly lower vitamin A and zinc intakes from food than women.

The researchers conducted a secondary analysis of the annual UK National Diet and Nutrition Surveys from 2008 to 2014 and derived micronutrient intakes from food sources as a percentage of the Reference Nutrient Intake (RNI) and percentage below the LRNI. Data from 3,238 adults was analysed.

Both women and men in their twenties were found to low levels of magnesium, with 19% displaying levels below the LRNI, while intakes of vitamin A, riboflavin, folic acid, calcium, potassium iodine and copper were also found to be comparably lower than adults in their thirties, forties and fifties.

When analysed collectively, the data showed that young women were most likely to have micronutrient shortfalls. Researchers linked this to fitness and dieting trends popularised by social media, which women in their twenties are most likely to show interest in.

The study referenced a recent survey of 1,035 tweets by young adults which found that 67.2% related to body image, eating disorders, fitness, food or dieting, and suggested that this type of content has ramifications on the dietary habits and micronutrient profiles of young women.

The rising popularity of veganism in recent years has also been found to impact intakes of key micronutrients including vitamin D and calcium.

The study’s authors concluded that dietary improvements are needed for young women and that “fortification and supplementation strategies may be considered.”

Another recent study found the majority of Brits don’t understand how vitamins work despite regularly taking them.