London: Poor lifestyle habits such as binge-drinking, bad eating habits and smoking are to blame for the increasing number of young adults who are not getting enough vital nutrients, a new UK study says.
As a result it is predicted that many will go on to suffer debilitating illnesses such as the bone-thinning disease osteoporosis and even a drop in life expenctancy.
The study, commissioned by Boots Health Club, part of the nationwide chemist chain, found that large numbers of men and women have low intakes of at least eight key vitamins and minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, vitamin B12, vitamin D, zinc and vitamin A.
It warned that millions of young people are thought to be ‘vita-rexic’ – a term coined for vitamin deficiency. Alarmingly, the study found that 96 per cent of women aged 19 to 24 were at risk of becoming iron deficient. This can lead to symptoms of anaemia, which leaves the sufferer feeling weak and tired.
More than half of women and a third of men were also found to be deficient in calcium, which is vital to help maintain healthy bones.
Dr Ann Walker, senior lecturer in nutrition at the University of Reading, said: ‘Modern lifestyles are at fault with many people working long hours, with bad diets and little time for exercise.
‘Bad diet, smoking and binge drinking are having a devastating effect on people’s health – women in particular – and adding to the burden of full-time work. It is hugely important that young adults start eating more healthily to avoid stressing the immune system.’
Every year Britons spend £300million on vitamin and mineral pills in the belief they can help prevent illnesses or make up for the nutrients lacking in their diet.
But earlier this year an influential panel of U.S. scientists said there is no strong evidence that they provide any benefit.
They warned that as many as one in ten of those taking supplements could even be in danger of overdosing and exceeding the daily ‘safe’ intake when nutrients in their food are included.
Most nutritionists agree that a healthy and balanced diet – which includes plenty of fruit and vegetables – will provide all the nutrients that most people need.