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  • Real Pork Trust Consortium

Unlocking the Nutritional Benefits of Pork: Insights from a Comprehensive Study on Micronutrient Intake in Children and Adults

A woman makes a salad to go with a pork dish, which can be an excellent source of key micronutrients
Photo courtesy of National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa

Under the guidance of Dr. Nicholas Gabler, Professor of Swine Nutrition at Iowa State University, Mitch Nisley, a Ph.D. student at Iowa State University, summarized this 2023 peer-reviewed journal article by Sanjiv Agarwal and Victor L. Fulgoni III. This summarization of the research project discusses how children and adults in the United States who eat pork may consume more of some essential micronutrients than individuals who do not eat pork.

Major Finding

Limited studies have evaluated the impact of pork intake on micronutrient intake, and this association of pork intake contributes to daily nutrient recommendations in humans. The goal of this research was to assess the relationship between pork intake (including fresh pork and processed pork) and nutrient recommendations in US children and adults using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 2011–2018.

The data found in this study demonstrated that children and adult consumers of fresh and processed pork had higher intakes of several key micronutrients compared to those who do not consume pork.

Consumers of different types of pork consistently had higher intakes of potassium, selenium, zinc, thiamine, niacin, vitamin B6, and choline compared to nonconsumers and were more likely to meet nutrient recommendations for copper, potassium, zinc, thiamine, and choline. Pork consumption is associated with getting more nutrients and meeting nutritional goals in U.S. children (2–18 years) and adults (19+ years), indicating a possible way to combat undernutrition.


Why It Matters

Micronutrient deficiencies affect a substantial portion of the population and contribute to disease and mortality risks. Several key nutrients, including choline, calcium, iron, vitamins A, D, E, and C, magnesium, and potassium have been identified as "under-consumed nutrients." Pork may be used to address some of these nutrient deficiencies in human diets in the United States.


How the Research Was Conducted

Researchers used dietary intake data from the NHANES 2011–2018 cross-sectional survey conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The study included data from 10,913 children (representing about 69.8 million individuals) ages 2–18 and 19,766 adults (representing about 231.6 million individuals) 19 years and older.

Fresh and processed pork intake was identified using specific components of the Food and Nutrition Database for Dietary Studies food codes. The quantity of pork in NHANES survey foods was calculated, and nutrient intake distributions were estimated using the National Cancer Institute method. The percentage of the population below the Estimated Average Requirement or above the Adequate Intake was then determined and compared.


Learn More

Learn more about this study and how consuming pork may help address inadequate micronutrient intake by reading the full peer-reviewed journal article.

Unlocking the Nutritional Benefits of Pork- Insights from a Comprehensive Study on Micronu
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