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Are You Getting All The Nutrients You Need?

When it comes to our diet, we tend to focus so much of our time and efforts on staying away from certain foods that we end up depriving our bodies of the essential nutrients we should be receiving according to dietary guidelines. Instead of focusing on staying away from fats, sugars, etc., shift your focus to essential nutrients your body needs to stay healthy.

Current U.S. Dietary Guidelines explain that most Americans are not receiving sufficient amounts of seven different vital nutrients present in food. These include:

Vitamin A
Vitamin C
Vitamin E

While it is common for most to fill those nutrient gaps with supplements immediately, there are healthier (and more cost-effective) ways to achieve this before rushing to do so. Making adjustments to your daily diet can provide you with all the nutrients you require to live a healthy life.

Calcium assists your body’s muscle function and supports maintaining healthy teeth, strong bones, and a normal heart rhythm. The amount of calcium needed is contingent upon your age. For adults who are 18-50 years old, 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day is recommended. For adults over the age of 50, it is recommended to get 1,200 milligrams per day. These guidelines can change in the case of osteoporosis, upon which you should consult with your doctor.

Some great sources of calcium include:

Cooked spinach (1 cup) = 146 milligrams
Salmon (3 ounces) = 181 milligrams
Skim milk (8 ounces) = 306 milligrams
Nonfat plain yogurt (8 ounces) = 452 milligrams
Swiss cheese (1.5ounces) = 336 milligrams

Another source of calcium includes some fortified foods such as orange juice, soy milk, and breakfast cereals.

*Note: Make sure that you are also getting adequate magnesium, vitamin K, and vitamin D along with calcium, or else it will not get adequately absorbed, which can potentially cause kidney problems and/or hardening of the arteries.

Potassium is crucial for supporting healthy blood pressure, fluid balance, and nerve and muscle function. Potassium is easily found in several foods, but the problem here lies in the fact that most people are not eating enough fruits and vegetables. It is recommended that adults get 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day.

Here are some excellent sources of potassium:

Banana = 422 milligrams
Baked sweet potato = 694 milligrams
Tomato paste (¼ cup) = 664 milligrams
Non-fat plain yogurt (8 ounces) = 579 milligrams
Yellowfin tuna (3 ounces) = 484 milligrams

Contrary to popular belief, fiber isn’t just for those who are older. It is imperative at all ages. Fiber is commonly known for supporting intestinal health, but it also serves many other roles, such as protection against heart disease, some forms of cancer, and type 2 diabetes.

The recommended amount of fiber varies based on age and sex:

Women who are ages 19-50 should get around 25 grams per day.
Women who are ages 51 and older should get approximately 21 grams per day.
Men who are ages 19-50 should get approximately 38 grams per day.
Men who are ages 51 and older should get approximately 30 grams per day.

What are some good sources of this nutrient?

Cooked black beans (½ cup) = 7.7 grams
Whole-wheat English muffin = 4.4 grams
100% bran cereal (½ cup) = 8.8 grams
A small pear = 4.4 grams
Baked sweet potato with peel = 4.8 grams

Magnesium is a nutrient that assists the body in several processes such as strengthening bones, heart function, immune health, nervous system regulation, and heart function.

Recommendations for magnesium are as follows:

Women who are ages 19-30 should get around 210 milligrams per day.
Women who are ages 31 and older should get 320 milligrams per day.
Men who are ages 19-30 should get 400 milligrams per day.
Men who are ages 31 and older should get 420 milligrams per day.

What foods are great sources of magnesium?

Almonds (1 ounce) = 78 milligrams
Cooked halibut (3 ounces) = 91 milligrams
Brazil nuts (1 ounce) = 107 milligrams
100% bran cereal (1 ounce) = 103 milligrams

Vitamin A
Vitamin A is vital to our health by supporting our vision, immunity, and tissue growth. Men should be getting around 900 micrograms per day, while women should be getting around 700 micrograms per day.

There are two types of vitamin A: retinol and carotenoids. Carotenoids are commonly lacking in American diets, and while there are no set recommendations on daily intake, you should aim to eat foods with this nutrient each day.

Great sources of carotenoids:

Cooked winter squash (½ cup) = 1,096 milligrams
Cooked fresh carrots (½ cup) = 671 milligrams
Cooked spinach (½ cup) = 573 milligrams
Baked sweet potato with skin = 1,096 milligrams

Vitamin C
Vitamin C is well-known for its ability to boost our immune systems, but did you know this nutrient also plays a vital role in cell damage prevention and collagen production? Adult men should be getting around 90 milligrams of vitamin C per day, while women should be getting around 75 milligrams.

A few sources of vitamin C include:

Cooked broccoli (½ cup) = 51 milligrams
Cooked sweet red pepper (½ cup) = 116 milligrams
Strawberries (½ cup) = 49 milligrams
Cantaloupe (¼ medium) = 47 milligrams
Orange = 70 milligrams

Vitamin E
Vitamin E is a highly effective antioxidant that aids the body in protecting cells from damage. Unfortunately, many Americans aren’t receiving enough of this nutrient because it is frequently found in foods with high-fat contents such as nuts, seeds, and oils.

Before consuming foods with this nutrient, remember that diets low in fat are great for overall health and wellness, so eat foods with this nutrient in moderation.

What are some excellent sources of vitamin E?

Tomato sauce (½ cup) = 2.5 milligrams
Peanut butter (2 tbsp) = 2.5 milligrams
Almonds (1 ounce) = 7.3 milligrams
Roasted sunflower seeds (1 ounce) = 7.4 milligrams

Please remember that if you cannot tolerate some of these food groups (for example, dairy) or do not like any green foods, you probably need to supplement specific vitamins and minerals. This is especially true if you are taking medications that deplete these from your body. As always, consult with your healthcare providers before making lifestyle changes. Stop by the pharmacy today to talk with a pharmacist about setting up a Healthy You Partnership plan so you can take control of your overall health and wellness!

Griffin, R. M. (2009, May 12). Missing Nutrients in the Traditional American Diet. WebMD.