Healthy Eating Index and Nutrition Biomarkers among Army Soldiers and Civilian Control Group Indicate an Intervention Is Necessary to Raise Omega-3 Index and Vitamin D and Improve Diet Quality
Nutrients 2021, 13(1), 122; https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13010122
by Melissa Rittenhouse 1,2,*OrcID,Jonathan Scott 1 and Patricia Deuster 1
- 1 Consortium for Health and Military Performance, Department of Military and Emergency Medicine, F. Edward Hébert School of Medicine, Uniformed Services University, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA
- 2 Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine, Bethesda, MD 20817, USA
- There have been many reports of the military no longer having adequate levels of Vitamin D, but little has been done
- A war finally caused Britain to add Vitamin C to their sailors to prevent scurvy, delayed 100 years by offical indecision after a clear-cut clinical trial of vitamin C
- Will take a war for the US military to restore Vitamin D levels(too late?
- Note: in Dec 2020 we are at war with COVID-19, a war which can be won with Vitamin D
- Overview of Military and Vitamin D
- Has the following chart of Vitamin D drop during training
- Vitamin D trials by military – all 4 found benefit – review Sept 2019
- No military trainee consumed Vitamin D RDA (most were also low in Magnesium) – July 2018
- Large decreases in Vitamin D and Iron during military basic training – March 2017
- VA found less testing for vitamin D resulted in increased health costs – Jan 2012
- 5,000 IU Vitamin D daily resulted in many benefits after 3 months (US soldiers) – RCT March 2019
- US Army learning about benefits of vitamin D to trauma – Dec 2013 talking with Dr. Matthews
Diet quality and nutrition status are important for optimal health and military performance. Few studies have simultaneously evaluated diet quality and biochemical markers of nutritional status of military service members. The Healthy Eating Index (HEI) can be used to assess dietary quality and adherence to federal nutrition guidelines. The aim of this study was to assess soldiers’ diet quality and nutritional status and compare results to a civilian control group.
Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted with 531 soldiers. A food frequency questionnaire was used to calculate HEI scores. A blood sample was collected for analysis of select nutrition biochemical markers. Non-parametric analyses were conducted to compare the diet quality and nutritional status of soldiers and controls. Differences in non-normally distributed variables were determined by using the Wilcoxon signed-rank test.
Results: Soldiers had an HEI score of 59.9 out of 100, marginally higher than the control group (55.4). Biochemical markers of interest were within normal reference values for soldiers, except for the omega-3 index and vitamin D.
Conclusions: This study identified dietary components that need improvement and deficits in biochemical markers among soldiers. Improving diet quality and nutritional status should lead to better health, performance, and readiness of the force
However, the biomarkers for vitamin D and the omega-3 index were strikingly low—approximately 86.1% of soldiers had vitamin D levels below the cutoff of 30 ng/mL.
With regard to omega-3 status, about 61% (n = 284) had an omega-3 index considered high risk (<4%), and 39% (n = 185) had an intermediate risk (4–8%), while none had a low risk (>8%).