Essential Shortfall Nutrients

Grains Contribute to the Overall Diet Quality through Key Essential and Shortfall Nutrients

To make “every bite count” it is important to choose a variety of foods from all food groups and limit added sugars and foods high in sodium. The Dietary Guidelines recommendation to eat half of your grains from whole grain sources illustrates that both whole and enriched grains provide necessary nutrients.

  • Nutrients typically under consumed in the American diet (also known as “shortfall nutrients”) and associated with health concerns are calcium, potassium, dietary fiber, and vitamin D.


  • For women of childbearing ages and those pregnant or lactating, it is important to consume foods high in folic acid, iron, iodine , and choline.


  • Enriched grains are the largest contributor of folic acid in the American diet. Additionally, almost 40% of the dietary fiber in the American diet comes from refined grain foods.


  • Grain foods provide dietary fiber as well as essential vitamins such as folate, thiamin, niacin, vitamin B6, riboflavin, and vitamin A; as well as minerals such as iron, zinc, manganese, copper, magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium.


According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, the enriched grain figure below is the minimum suggested amount of enriched grains to consume.

 Age Enriched Grain Daily Minimum REC 
Children 2-3 years 1.5 oz-equiv 
 4-8 years 2.5 oz-equiv 
Girls 9-13 years 3 oz-equiv 
 14-18 years 3 oz-equiv 
Boys 9-13 years 3 oz-equiv 
 14-18 years 4 oz-equiv 
Women 19-30 years 3 oz-equiv 
 31-50 years 3 oz-equiv 
 51+ years 3 oz-equiv 
Men 19-30 years 4 oz-equiv 
 31-50 years 3.5 oz-equiv 
 51+ years 3 oz-equiv 

*Oz-Equiv = Ounce-Equivalent 


Type of Food / Serving Size 
 1 mini bagel 
 1 small biscuit (2” diameter) 
 1 small slice white bread (white wheat, French, sourdough) 
 1 small piece cornbread (2.5” x 1.25” x 1.25”) 
 7 square or round saltine or snack crackers 
 1/2 plain or raisin English muffin 
 1 small (bran, corn, plain) muffin (2.5” diameter) 
 2 small pancakes (3” diameter) 
 1.25 cup ready-to-eat cereal (corn flakes, puffed rice) 
 1 oz. dry white rice 
 1 oz. dry pasta 
 1 flour/corn tortilla (6” diameter) 


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