The Reality But Often Ignored Topic of Widespread Nutrient Deficiency

Last Updated on December 21, 2021 by Shaun Snapp

Executive Summary

  • There is a widespread nutrient deficiency in the population.
  • This information is not incorporated into the advice provided by health authorities when they discuss nutrition supplements.


The majority of health authorities and MDs oppose nutrient supplements, although confusingly they acknowledge there is widespread nutrient deficiency. This topic came up so many times as I analyzed the recommendations from health authorities, that it made sense to centralize the topic of nutrient deficiency in one article.

Therefore, this article covers the degree of widespread nutrient deficiency and the inconsistency of this with recommendations by health authorities.

Our References for This Article

If you want to see our references for this article and related Brightwork articles, visit this link.

The American Cancer Society on Health Supplements

The following quote is a common presentation on nutrient supplements on the part of a major health authority.

Used properly, certain dietary supplements may help reduce the risk of some diseases. Some might also reduce discomfort caused by certain conditions or medicines or help you feel better, which can improve your quality of life. Most people can use dietary supplements safely as long as they don’t take too much. But dietary supplements are not totally safe, and taking them can have risks, especially for people who are getting cancer treatment.

  • Are drugs completely safe?
  • Is chemotherapy or radiotherapy completely safe?

It is curious that a society that recommends two of the most dangerous forms of treatment would focus on the issue of safety when it comes to supplements.

Secondly, nutrition doesn’t merely “reduce the risks” for some diseases, and they reduce some diseases.

This study shows that Vitamin D supplementation reduces colorectal cancer. Vitamin D is an immunomodulator, which means that it optimizes the immune system. The immune system fights cancer — and this means that Vitamin D not only fights colorectal cancer but other forms of cancer. Nutrient deficiency is correlated with numerous diseases, and yet US law makes it illegal to promote a supplement as addressing a disease. This means the US laws in this area are anti-scientific.

The quote from the American Cancer Society makes it sound like nutrient deficiencies are a hypothetical issue.

Here are some of the common nutrient deficiencies.

9 out of 10 Americans are deficient in potassium
7 out of 10 are deficient in calcium
8 out of 10 are deficient in vitamin E
50 percent of Americans are deficient in vitamin A, vitamin C, and magnesium
More 50 percent of the general population is vitamin D deficient, regardless of age
90 percent of Americans of color are vitamin D deficient
Approximately 70 percent of elderly Americans are vitamin D deficient. – Biostation

Secondly, the WHO and CDC specifically address vitamin and mineral deficiency on their websites, and I found this quote from the WHO’s website.

Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable blindness in children and increases the risk of disease and death from severe infections such as diarrhoeal disease and measles. Vitamin A deficiency may also occur in women during the last trimester of pregnancy in high-risk areas. Breastfeeding is the best way to protect babies from vitamin A deficiency and, in areas where vitamin A deficiency is a public health problem, vitamin A supplementation is recommended in infants and children 6-59 months of age. – WHO

Deficiencies are directly and scientifically demonstrated to lead to several diseases. The purpose of nutrition supplements is to address these deficiencies before the disease appears and to improve health.

Unaddressed Problems in the Diet

MDs and health authorities will often state that one can obtain all of the nutrients necessary by eating a well-balanced diet that contains whole grains, fruits, vegetables, etc. However, they leave out the fact that the diet of most people does not meet these criteria. The processed food companies for one have made it as difficult as possible for people to get a healthy diet.

Therefore, the advice of MDs and health authorities is almost hypothetical in nature. Yes, if a person has a substantial amount of nutrition knowledge one might be able to obtain their nutrients exclusively from food. However, even here I don’t see how. For example, it is very difficult to obtain Omega 3s and Omega 6s from just-food. And what if I skip foods on some days that are the source of Omega 4s and Omega 6s. What happens then. This debate could go back and forth, however, the evidence is clear that most of the population has substantial nutrient deficiencies. That should be sufficient to support supplementation, however, MDs and health authorities will nearly always revert back to their claim around a healthy well-balanced diet.

Is It a Food or Supplement?

Another topic that health authorities do not do a very good job of addressing is what is a supplement and what is a food?

Omega Oils

As an example, I use something called Udo’s Oil, which is a refrigerated oil with Omega 3s, 6s, and 9s. It is far better for you than a polyunsaturated fat like olive oil, and is explained in the book Fats that Kill Fats that Heal. This is a fat or oil that is used instead of much lower quality oils that are part of the US diet. Oil is used on vegetables, salads, etc…

Now, is this oil a food or a supplement? Should I discuss this oil with my MD, as the FDA, NIH, and American Cancer Society recommend or can I just add this to my diet as a food?


Let us take another example. I have been taking a fiber supplement called Optifiber that is both a fiber and a probiotic that supports gut bacteria. Again, is this a supplement or a food? Do I need to tell my MD if I am taking this?

Health authorities are quite dismissive of supplements, but some supplements are part of a healthy “well-balanced diet.” Furthermore, the US diet is quite deficient in both Omega 3s, 6s, and 9s, yet health authorities are constantly critiquing supplementation. The same goes for dietary fiber. I cover this in the article Why the Medical Establishment Opposes Fiber Supplements.

Good Sources on Self Diagnosing Deficiency

  • Since you are reading this article on nutrient deficiencies, now is a good time to check yourself for deficiencies. 
  • One does not need to visit an MD to determine deficiency, and it is not what MDs do — they normally recommend against nutrient tests, which are normally expensive. 
  • Diagnosing nutrient deficiencies is fast and easy to do. 
  • This is an excellent website at WebMD that allows you to check for nutrient deficiency.
  • This article also nicely explains what to look for with nutrient deficiency.

I realized I was deficient in vitamin B1 from reading this self-diagnosis material. This is curious as I have foods with vitamin B1 in my diet. However, different people have different needs for various nutrients. This is why the single FDA RDA values do not make sense. For one,  they are not adjusted for the bodyweight or activity level of the person. 

This video describes how blood vitamin deficiency tests do not measure the nutritional levels in the cell. MDs generally do not know this. 


MDs and health authorities live in a strange space. On one hand, they acknowledge widespread nutrient deficiencies. They recognize that these deficiencies and unhealthy habits lead to negative health consequences. However, at the same time, they oppose nutrient supplementation as one can *potentially* obtain all of one’s nutrients from a well-balanced diet.

This lack of focus on nutrient deficiency extends to all parts of the medical and health system. For example, in all the visits I have ever made to dentists, I can’t recall a single one recommending nutrients or foods to help in tooth and gum health.