How are we all still alive?

I just started using cronometer and I can't believe all the gaps in my nutrition. To get all the vitamins and minerals you need, you really do need to eat some dark leafy greens and an orange/yellow vegetable every day, as well as a lot of other healthy foods.

But I know that most Americans are eating fast food and drinking soda -- how are they even alive??? I'm freaking out just finding out how hard it is to get enough potassium every day. I don't know how the anti-vegetable set does it.


  • The "essential" nutrients aren't necessarily need to live, but deficiencies can lead to poor health. Potassium/sodium balance helps control water in cells vs. in blood stream. Lack of potassium (and excess of sodium) increases the risk of high blood pressure.

  • edited August 2020

    It is evolutionarily necessary to live long enough to procreate and keep offspring alive long enough to procreate. There is no evidence to substantiate any interest in preserving life beyond that by Mother Nature or the current American Administration.

    "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants." Michael Pollan

  • edited August 2020

    Some of the perceived "gaps" in nutrition are merely the result of poor data quality, and not actual nutritional "gaps".

    I'll admit that I have made several nutritional changes based on the information at my disposal, thanks to Cronometer.

  • Many of the RDAs are established by,

    "Okay, we saw 100 people with a deficiency from this. What is the least amount anyone had where they stopped showing deficiency symptoms? Okay, get that amount and double it, there's the RDA."

    As well, it takes relatively small amounts of particular foods to get each nutrient. For example, 15g of spinach grants 100% of the RDA for vitamin K, 18g carrots gives you enough vitamin A, a couple of ounces of strawberries gets you the vitamin C, and so on.

    And your body does store some of the various micronutrients, so that even for example a strict vegan who doesn't supplement will take some years to show symptoms of vitamin B12 or iron deficiency.

    Lastly, some of the RDAs are just guesses. For example, the number from chromium for infants is based solely on how much chromium appears in breast milk - "Well if they can live on that, it must be enough," and in adults there is not technically a recommended daily allowance, but an "adequate intake", derived from studies of what dieticians consider a balanced diet, "okay, how much chromium would they get from that? that's probably enough."

    However, it is fair to say that most Westerners go around with small deficiencies. Not enough to show up as something like scurvy, but enough that it affects their lives long-term, and their chances of this or that chronic disease appearing.

    You don't have to obsess over getting 100% each day. What matters is how you go over time. So if you had 150g spinach today and then none for two weeks then you had 1,000% the RDA for vitamin K, but averaged over two weeks that's 72% - chuck in some other fruit and vegetables over those two weeks and you're probably going to be okay for K.

    The dietary report becomes interesting over time.

  • Most of the USA have health problems, some more serious than others. I suspect a lot have them and don't even know it. I also personally believe that a lot of the ailments that people get put on medication for, could be managed by diet if people wanted to change and do the work required.

  • I have to admit having the same reaction as you as I use Cronometer. Being vegetarian, hitting all my targets is actually a challenge without supplementation or a multi-vitamin. I'm finding it's better to eat small amounts of a greater variety of foods than to eat larger portions of fewer foods, as far as meeting targets goes. I always considered my diet very healthy, and yet, like you, I wonder about the majority of Americans who eat the usual burger and fries and other fast food.

  • @Fern36
    As an RD, one of my favourite features of Cronometer is their nutrient "Data Confidence Score" (visible when you hover your mouse over the intake percentage in your diary). This score tells you how well your diary reflects your actual intake.

    A lot of nutrients have low scores because they are just not well-reported on food labels or by databases (e.g. iodine).

    When interpreting your data, consider your weekly and monthly intake for various nutrients, rather than your day-to-day intake.

    As a vegetarian, some supplements are needed but eating plant-based increases the chances that you can reach 100% on the majority of targets.

    Kind regards,

    Susan Macfarlane, MScA, RD
    Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • It's the difference between being alive and the quality of life ....

    If you wake up without goals, go back to sleep ...

  • Manicask, I started on cronometer because my vitamin D and B12 were off the charts when I got my annual blood work done. A sign that I was taking way too many supplements. I switched up what I take and I also found my postassium low. (I have fruit/vegetable intolerances & allergies.) One small can of low sodium V8 popped it right up to where it should be. I've now been running at 97-100% of my targets.

  • Understanding that the data is as good as the item you choose - how might I see which of my recipe items could be improved if I chose a different (more completely known in the data) version of the same thing? For most foods there are well-known and poorly known nutrition profiles. But having used Cronometer for years I have lots of recipes - is there a way to see which items are causing less-than-best Confidence Scores?

  • Hi jhosford,

    You'll get the best confidence scores from using foods from NCCDB, they have more nutrients recorded than other sources so you will have fewer gaps in your data.

    There's no quick way to see the source of each food added to your recipes on the website. You could add a recipe to your diary. Right-click to explode the recipe, then right-click each ingredient to View/Edit Selected Food. You can see the source listed under the name of the food.

    Do you ever use Cronometer on the mobile app? On the app you can open a recipe from the foods tab, then tap on each food to see its source and how many nutrients are recorded for that food. Quite a bit faster this way!

    Karen Stark
    As always, any and all postings here are covered by our T&Cs:

  • Hi, Karen! OK - I see the 'trick' is to look for NCCDB. Maybe easier on mobile, I'll take a look. Thanks for the guidance - much appreciated! Jon

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