Paradoxically, people who are obese have a low intake of essential micronutrients despite having an abundance of stored energy (in the form of fat), according to a recent study published in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition. While this population may be eating more food, the foods they are eating more of are nutrient-poor, energy-dense foods (high-calories, low-nutrients), which may help to explain the paradox.

Using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), they found that, although the majority of people in the United States lack adequate nutrient intake, overweight and obese adults have about 5 to 12 percent lower intakes of micronutrients than healthy weight people.

“The NHANES data show that a high percent of the population have problems meeting recommended nutrient intake for vitamins A, C, D, and E, and magnesium and calcium,” noted Victor Fulgoni, PhD, one of the researchers.

Overall, dietary supplement users had higher overall nutrient intakes and lower prevalence of micronutrient inadequacy, suggesting that dietary supplements may help with filling the nutrient gaps, the researchers stated.

This is not the first study to find nutrient inadequacies in obese people. In 2005, a study published in the Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research found that obese children were more likely to not be getting enough vitamins E and D, or enough magnesium and calcium, despite eating more calories, when compared to healthy weight children. If you are overweight or obese, a multivitamin/mineral formula can help you be sure that you are getting the nutrition you need.