Nutritional Deficiency in Food - Global

‘Mounting evidence shows that many of today’s whole foods aren’t as packed with vitamins and nutrients as they were 70 years ago, potentially putting people’s health at risk’

you may not be aware that the quantity of nutrients in these crops has been declining over the past 70 years. Mounting evidence from multiple scientific studies shows that many fruits, vegetables, and grains grown today carry less protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, riboflavin, and vitamin C than those that were grown decades ago. Nutrient decline “is going to leave our bodies with fewer of the components they need to mount defences against chronic diseases—it’s going to undercut the value of food as preventive medicine,” says David R. Montgomery, a professor of geomorphology at the University of Washington in Seattle and co-author with Anne Biklé of What Your Food Ate. Even for people who avoid processed foods and prioritise fresh produce, this trend means that “what our grandparents ate was healthier than what we’re eating today,” says Kristie Ebi, an expert in climate change and health at the University of Washington in Seattle.

One of the largest scientific studies to draw attention to this issue was published in the U.S., via the December 2004 issue of the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. Using USDA nutrient data published in 1950 and 1999, researchers at the University of Texas at Austin noted changes in 13 nutrients in 43 different garden crops—from asparagus and snap beans to strawberries and watermelon. These raw fruits and veggies showed declines in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, which are essential for building and maintaining strong bones and teeth and for proper nerve function. There were also dips in iron, vital for carrying oxygen throughout the body, and in riboflavin, which is crucial for metabolism of fats and drugs. Levels of vitamin C—important for the growth and repair of various tissues in the body and for immune function—also fell.

Grains have also experienced declines, experts say. A study in a 2020 issue of Scientific Reports found that protein content in wheat decreased by 23 percent from 1955 to 2016, and there were notable reductions in manganese, iron, zinc, and magnesium, as well.

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Nutritional Deficiency in Food - US

World at Large: ‘American Produce has Lost As Much As 80% of Its Nutrition Since the 1950s’ by Andy Corbley, May 09 2023 ‘If you wanted to replicate the vitamin A content of an orange grown in 1940s America, one would have to eat eight oranges grown today, and there’s every reason to believe that this would be the same for vitamin C and other nutrients. This was reported recently in Scientific American, which was answering user-submitted questions about the alleged decline in nutrient content in American produce.’ Scientific American looked at other studies with similar results. While not all the declines were as dramatic as the eight-to-one orange ratio, there could be as much as 37% less iron in our vegetables, 30% less vitamin C, and 27% less calcium. The cause of this? Eroding topsoil and degraded soil quality are the primary cause of loss of nutrition in fruits and vegetables. By farming the same soils every year for more than a century, American fields are not given the adequate amount of time to replenish the mineral content needed to sustain healthy produce. For reference, 3 inches of topsoil require 1,000 years to build, but only a few modern farming seasons to destroy. farming plants in degraded soil environments with limited nutrients are causing inter-generational stresses that change the makeup of the fruits, vegetables, and grains which humans are farming, to plants that have more limited nutrient quantities.

Nutritional Deficiency in Food - UK

Healthy Life: Declining NutritionL Values of Food in UK, Oct 18, 2018 Soil provides a range of ecosystem services and is a prime source of minerals. Traditionally, farmers used crop rotation to maintain fertile soil – leaving a field to ‘lie fallow’ for a season meant that the soil had time to recover from the effects of farming. Nowadays, the economic demands placed on farmers mean that this isn’t always viable. Many crops are now grown for greater yield, uniform appearance, and disease resistance, and not primarily for enhanced nutritional content. The intensive farming and mass production techniques needed to produce them are depleting minerals faster than the microorganisms in the soil can replenish them. Essentially, as the yield has increased, the mineral content has decreased. This is referred to as the ‘dilution effect’. The nutritional content of a food depends on the nutrients available in the soil in which it is grown, so the key to healthier produce is healthier soil. Decreases in nutritional percentage in UK foods


Potassium = -19%

Magnesium = -16%

Calcium = -16%

Iron = -24%

Copper = -20%


Potassium = -19%

Magnesium = -75%

Calcium = -46%

Iron = -27%

Copper = -76%


Potassium = -16%

Magnesium = -10%

Calcium = -41%

Iron = -54%

Copper = -24%

‘In March 2006, the United Nations acknowledged a new kind of malnutrition; ’The overweight are just as malnourished as the starving’, Catherine Bertini, Chairperson, UN A report comparing the nutritional content of food in 1940 and 2002 shows that the mineral content of vegetables, fruits, meat and milk has fallen significantly over the past 60 years, in some cases by as much as 70%. Sources: David Thomas (2007) ‘The Mineral Depletion of Foods Available to Us as A Nation (1940–2002) – A Review of the 6th Edition of McCance and Widdowson’, Nutrition and Health, 2007, Vol. 19, pp. 21–55


Vitamin A

Vitamin A, also known as retinol, has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping your body’s natural defence against illness and infection (the immune system) work properly
  • helping vision in dim light
  • keeping skin and the lining of some parts of the body, such as the nose, healthy

Vitamin B

There are many different types of vitamin B.

This section has information on:

  • thiamin (vitamin B1)
  • riboflavin (vitamin B2)
  • niacin (vitamin B3)
  • pantothenic acid
  • vitamin B6
  • biotin (vitamin B7)
  • folate and folic acid
  • vitamin B12

Thiamin (vitamin B1)

Thiamin, also known as vitamin B1, helps:

  • the body break down and release energy from food
  • keep the nervous system healthy

Riboflavin (vitamin B2)

Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, helps:

  • keep skin, eyes and the nervous system healthy
  • the body release energy from food

Niacin (vitamin B3)

Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, helps:

  • the body release energy from food
  • keep the nervous system and skin healthy

Pantothenic acid

Pantothenic acid has several functions, such as helping the body to release energy from food.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, helps:

  • the body to use and store energy from protein and carbohydrates in food
  • the body form haemoglobin, the substance in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body

Biotin (vitamin B7)

Biotin is needed in very small amounts to help the body make fatty acids.

Folate and folic acid

Folate is a B vitamin found in many foods. The manmade form of folate is called folic acid.

Folate is also known as folacin and vitamin B9.

Folate helps:

  • the body form healthy red blood cells
  • reduce the risk of birth defects called neural tube defects, such as spina bifida, in unborn babies

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is involved in helping the body:

  • make red blood cells and keeping the nervous system healthy
  • release energy from food
  • use folate

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping to protect cells and keeping them healthy
  • maintaining healthy skin, blood vessels, bones and cartilage
  • helping with wound healing

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps regulate the amount of calcium and phosphate in the body.

These nutrients are needed to keep bones, teeth and muscles healthy.

Government advice is that everyone should consider taking a daily vitamin D supplement during the autumn and winter.

Govt. advice is to consider taking a daily supplement containing 10 micrograms of vitamin D throughout the year.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin and eyes, and strengthen the body’s natural defence against illness and infection (the immune system).

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a group of vitamins that the body needs for blood clotting, helping wounds to heal.

There’s also some evidence vitamin K may help keep bones healthy.


Beta Carotene

Beta-carotene gives yellow and orange fruit and vegetables their colour. It’s turned into vitamin A in the body, so it can perform the same jobs in the body as vitamin A.


Has beneficial effects on such functions as reproduction and development, calcium metabolism, bone formation, brain function, insulin and energy substrate metabolism, immunity, and the function of steroid hormones (including vitamin D and eostrogen)


Calcium has several important functions.

These include:

  • helping build bones and keep teeth healthy
  • regulating muscle contractions, including your heartbeat
  • making sure blood clots normally


Chromium forms a compound in the body that seems to enhance the effects of insulin and lower glucose levels.

WebMd Written by R. Morgan Griffin

Reviewed by Dany Paul Baby, MD on December 02, 2022


Copper is an essential nutrient for the body. Together with iron, it enables the body to form red blood cells. It helps maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, and it contributes to iron absorption. Sufficient copper in the diet may help prevent cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis, too.


Adequate fluoride intakes reduce the risk of dental caries in its initial stages by inhibiting demineralization and the activity of bacteria in dental plaque and by enhancing tooth remineralization


Iodine helps make thyroid hormones, which help keep cells and the metabolic rate (the speed at which chemical reactions take place in the body) healthy.


Iron is a mineral that the body needs for growth and development. Your body uses iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body, and myoglobin, a protein that provides oxygen to muscles. Your body also needs iron to make some hormones.5


Manganese is involved in amino acid, cholesterol, glucose, and carbohydrate metabolism; reactive oxygen species scavenging; bone formation; reproduction; and immune response [3-7]. Manganese also plays a role in blood clotting and hemostasis in conjunction with vitamin K


Selenium, which is nutritionally essential for humans, is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection


Molybdenum is a mineral that you need to stay healthy. Your body uses molybdenum to process proteins and genetic material like DNA. Molybdenum also helps break down drugs and toxic substances that enter the body.


Research shows that zinc supplements might help lower blood sugar and cholesterol levels

Zinc also helps with:

  • making new cells and enzymes
  • processing carbohydrate, fat and protein in food
  • wound healing