Many Americans consume more calories than they need without meeting
recommended intakes for a number of nutrients. This circumstance means
that most people need to choose meals and snacks that are high in
nutrients but low to moderate in energy content; that is, meeting
nutrient recommendations must go hand in hand with keeping calories
under control. Doing so offers important benefits—normal growth
and development of children, health promotion for people of all ages,
and reduction of risk for a number of chronic diseases that are major
public health problems.
Based on dietary intake data or evidence of public health problems,
intake levels of the following nutrients may be of concern for:
Adults: calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium, and vitamins A (as
carotenoids), C, and E,
Children and adolescents: calcium, potassium, fiber, magnesium,
and vitamin E,
Specific population groups (see below): vitamin B12, iron, folic
acid, and vitamins E and D.
At the same time, in general, Americans consume too many calories
and too much saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars,
Consume a variety of nutrient-dense foods and beverages within and
among the basic food groups while choosing foods that limit the
intake of saturated and trans fats, cholesterol, added sugars, salt,
Meet recommended intakes within energy needs by adopting a balanced
eating pattern, such as the USDA Food Guide or the DASH Eating Plan.
Key Recommendations for Specific Population Groups
People over age 50. Consume vitamin B12 in its crystalline form
(i.e., fortified foods or supplements).
Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant. Eat foods high
in heme-iron and/or consume iron-rich plant foods or iron-fortified
foods with an enhancer of iron absorption, such as vitamin C-rich
Women of childbearing age who may become pregnant and those in the
first trimester of pregnancy. Consume adequate synthetic folic acid
daily (from fortified foods or supplements) in addition to food
forms of folate from a varied diet.
Older adults, people with dark skin, and people exposed to insufficient
ultraviolet band radiation (i.e., sunlight). Consume extra vitamin
D from vitamin D-fortified foods and/or supplements.