Objective: To determine nutrient intake of patients with active rheumatoid arthritis and compare it with the typical American diet (TAD) and the recommended dietary allowance (RDA).
Methods: 41 patients with active RA recorded a detailed dietary history. Information collected was analyzed for nutrient intake of energy, fats, protein, carbohydrate, vitamins and minerals, which were then statistically compared with the TAD and the RDA.
Results: Both men and women ingested significantly less energy from carbohydrates [women 47.4% (6.4) vs 55% RDA. p = 0.0001: men = 48.9% (7.4). p = 0.025] and more energy from fat [women = 36.8% (4.5) vs 30% RDA. p = 0.001 and men = 35.2% (5.9) p = 0.02]. Women ingested significantly more saturated and mono-unsaturated fat than the RDA (p = 0.02 and p = 0.04 respectively) while men ingested significantly less polyunsaturated fat (PUFA) (p = 0.0001). Both groups took in less fiber (p = 0.0001). Deficient dietary intake of pyridoxine was observed vs the RDA for both sexes (men and women p = 0.0001). Deficient folate intake was seen vs the TAD for men (p = 0.02) with a deficient trend in women (p = 0.06). Zinc and magnesium intake was deficient vs the RDA in both sexes (p values < or = 0.001) and copper was deficient vs the TAD in both sexes (p = 0.004 women and p = 0.02 men).
Conclusion: Patients with RA ingest too much total fat and too little PUFA and fiber. Their diets are deficient in pyridoxine, zinc and magnesium vs the RDA and copper and folate vs the TAD. These observations, also documented in previous studies, suggest that routine dietary supplementation with multivitamins and trace elements is appropriate in this population.