Vitamins and minerals a 'mystery' to the public, research claims

06/12/2018 - 09:33
'Nutrition' has become a buzzword in recent years, but the reality is that the public’s knowledge on the subject is lacking it has emerged.

Researchers have discovered that a third of the public are interested in nutrition and 28% go out of their way to avoid unhealthy foods.

But it was also revealed that many struggle to identify basic vitamins, minerals and ingredients, despite claiming to be ‘experts’ on the topic. Vitamins and minerals are becoming the 'mystery' on food labels that not many understand.

More than a quarter thought that mercury, which is a pollutant toxic to humans, is safe to eat.

Dr Marilyn Glenville, a nutritional health expert, says that “this survey shows that people don’t find it easy to identify vitamins, minerals and other ingredients.

''That is why it is so important to read the labels on your food and drinks.

''It is crucial to know what you are putting in your body as this affects your health both physically and mentally.''

The survey showed that then it comes to fats, 32% of people don’t know if monounsaturated fats - which can reduce cholesterol and are found in the increasingly popular avocados - are good or bad for health.

One in 10 didn’t know Omega-3, which is believed to lower the risk of heart disease, is a fat found in fish, flax seeds and walnuts, with some even mistaking it for a watch brand.

29% confused choline, found in cauliflower and an ‘essential’ nutrient, with chlorine, which has been used as a chemical weapon.

The research of 2,000 UK adults was commissioned to launch KNOW Your Nitrates (NO3), a campaign aimed at educating people on nitrates in drinking water.

It found that 77% have no idea what a nitrate is or whether they are good or bad for you - in fact, they have been linked to potentially serious health issues including thyroid and circulatory problems.

And it's a similar story for vitamins - of those who take vitamin C, 35% had no idea that it's essential for the growth, development and repair of all body tissues. Six in 10 don’t think they’re getting enough vitamins in their diet but 67% wouldn't be able to spot the signs they are vitamin deficient or not.

The research also found maintaining health is the public’s ‘biggest’ priority when it comes to nutrition.

It was closely followed by upping energy levels and getting all of the vitamins and minerals needed to function properly, but 27% say they don’t read the ingredients list on food and drink purchases at all, therefore keeping them in the dark about the vitamins and minerals they would be ingesting.

Additionally, nine in 10 aren't aware nitrates in drinking water can have a negative impact on health.

While five per cent wrongly believed that nitrates in mineral water - pollutants and heavy oxidants, which enter the water table from agricultural fertilisers and leaking septic tanks - are good for health. Only 21 per cent know nitrates can end up in mineral water from chemical fertilisers, and just nine per cent know nitrates are pollutants from the water table.

Glenville says that ''the lack of understanding about nitrates, particularly in water, shown in the survey was of concern. 

''And also, for me, as a nutritionist, to learn that in many European countries, the legislation requires that the nitrate content in water should not exceed 10mg per litre.

"But in the UK the limit is 50mg per litre for adults and there is no legislation in place for children.”

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