USDA and HHS release 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans

January 4, 2021
Sebastian Krawiec

The new guidelines acknowledge the use of dietary supplements to meet nutrient needs not easily obtained from food alone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released its “2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.” Significantly, the new guidelines acknowledge the use of dietary supplements to meet nutrient needs not easily obtained from food alone. The guidelines incorporated recommendations made by the Council for Responsible Nutrition (CRN; Washington, D.C.) when USDA and HHS released their Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee’s final scientific report.

The new guidelines underscore that underconsumption of vitamin D, iron, calcium, dietary fiber, and potassium among Americans is linked to health concerns, and recommends the use of vitamin D supplements in particular because diet alone may not be sufficient to reach optimal levels. The guidelines also instruct that infants fed human milk exclusively or partially should be given 400 IU of vitamin D per day soon after birth; a key recommendation from CRN. This supplementation may need to extend beyond 12 months.

The trade association’s comments also recommended that pregnant and lactating women seek guidance from healthcare providers on the appropriate use of dietary supplements to meet nutrient needs for vitamin D, folic acid, iron, iodine, and choline. As such, the guidelines state that healthcare providers advise women who are pregnant or planning on becoming pregnant should take prenatal vitamin and mineral supplements to achieve adequate intakes of key nutrients. In addition, the guidelines recommend that vegetarian and vegan pregnant or lactating women ask healthcare providers about supplementation to ensure adequate intakes of iron, vitamin B12, choline, zinc, iodine, and EPA/DHA. Vitamin B12 is a nutrient of concern for older adults as well because of poor absorption from food, and therefore may require supplementation.

“Underconsumption of key nutrients is a public health concern,” said Haiuyen Nguyen, senior director of scientific and regulatory Affairs at CRN, in a press release. “We’re pleased to see USDA and HHS recognize certain U.S. population groups do not achieve recommended nutrient levels from dietary intake alone. The Guidelines reflect how dietary supplements can support the health of all Americans.”