According to a new study, red meat helps cover the nutritional gap left as a result of inadequate intake of vitamins and minerals.
Researchers from the United Kingdom examined 103 previous scientific research papers to complete the study. They concluded that many people in the UK fail to meet daily requirements for vital vitamins and minerals, including Vitamin A, Vitamin D, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and potassium.
These nutrients are also found in meat, making it an ideal food to narrow the gap between recommend and actual nutritional intake levels.
Specifically, the study identified the “seven ages of man” and explored the vitamins and minerals lacking from the diets of each age group:
- Infants and pre-school children: Studies show that diets in this age group are low in vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, zinc.
- Pre-pubescent children: Diets were found to be low in vitamin A, magnesium, iron and zinc. Boys tended to have higher intakes of iron and thiamin than girls.
- Teenagers (13 to 18 years): Diets are low in many key nutrients - including vitamin A, vitamin D, iron, magnesium, zinc, selenium and potassium.
- Adults of reproductive age (19-50 years): Diets, particularly for females, fall short in magnesium and iron, as well as zinc, selenium and potassium.
- Pregnancy and lactation : Women on average fail to get enough calcium, magnesium, iron, iodine, selenium and potassium and vitamin D.
- Middle-age and older age (50 years and above): While this group has better quality diets, there are still shortfalls in intakes of magnesium, zinc and potassium.
- Older-age (75 years and beyond): Data shows that in adults aged over 85, intakes of magnesium, zinc and potassium are below the recommended nutrient intake.
“Integrating red meat into diets across the age spectrum, from infanthood to old age, may help to narrow the present gap between intakes and recommendations,” Independent dietician Dr. Carrie Ruxton, who led the study, said in a news release. “In addition, there is emerging evidence that nutrients commonly found in red meat may play a role in supporting cognitive function, immune health, and addressing iron deficiency. While concerns have been raised about the potential impact of meat on the risk of chronic disease, there is little evidence and may be triggered by meat cooking methods or other dietary factors.”
Ruxton adds, “Moderate amounts of lean red meat provide a wide range of important nutrients, without substantially increasing intakes of energy and saturated fat. When consumed in moderate amounts as part of a balanced diet, lean meat is unlikely to increase the risk of chronic disease yet provides an important source of micronutrients. In addition, people who eat lean meat regularly tend to eat more vegetables, fruits, low-fat dairy products and have a higher intake of nutrients overall, suggesting that inclusion of red meat does not displace other important foods.”
The study will soon be published in the British Nutrition Foundation’s Nutrition Bulletin.