4 Essential Nutrients You’re Probably Missing

Kevin Gray
by Kevin Gray
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4 Essential Nutrients You’re Probably Missing

Eating right isn’t always fun, but it’s still preferred to alternatives like obesity and chronic conditions. Unfortunately, the standard American diet is laden with processed foods and often lacks wholesome ingredients. For some, this issue creates dietary deficiencies that can sabotage your well-being. But don’t fret: There’s a fix.

The Department of Health and Human Services, along with the USDA, identify potassium, dietary fiber, choline, magnesium, calcium and vitamins A, D, E and C as “underconsumed nutrients.” They note that iron is another one to consider for adolescent girls and women ages 19–50.

But according to the report: “Of the underconsumed nutrients, calcium, potassium, dietary fiber and vitamin D are considered nutrients of public health concern because low intakes are associated with health concerns.”

Fortunately, a few dietary changes can elevate us to the recommended levels and right the ship that is our health. Read on for the reasons we need these four essential nutrients and ways to add them through a few dietary tweaks:

WHY WE NEED IT

Calcium supports strong bones and teeth — everyone knows that. But calcium is also integral to heart function, the nervous system and your blood’s ability to clot.

HOW TO GET IT

Dairy foods like milk, cheese and yogurt are all high in calcium. If you prefer salads, you’re in luck because dark, leafy greens like kale are a good source of the mineral.

WHY WE NEED IT

If you want your heart to keep functioning, your blood pressure and electrolyte levels to remain balanced and your muscles to work properly, potassium is for you.

HOW TO GET IT

Don’t be shy when it comes to potatoes, sweet potatoes and beet greens, as they’re packing the potassium. Other sources include bananas, avocados, milk and white beans.

WHY WE NEED IT

Dietary fiber is key for digestion, and per the FDA, it has also been shown to lower cholesterol in the blood and control blood sugar. That keeps your heart, and your gut, happy. Fiber also keeps you full longer, which can help curb snacking or overeating at your next meal.

HOW TO GET IT

Fill up on all manner of beans and lentils, plus whole grains, apples and berries.


READ MORE > ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO HEALTHY EATING


WHY WE NEED IT

Vitamin D is a vital nutrient that benefits your bones, muscles and immune system. Interestingly, it’s the only nutrient that we can both eat and create — the latter coming via our body’s processing of sunlight.

HOW TO GET IT

Salmon, trout and other oily fish are a great source of vitamin D. So are eggs, whole milk and fortified cereals. But one’s diet is rarely enough to meet the daily requirement (about 600–800 IU), so for more vitamin D, step outside. Regular bouts of natural sunlight are still the best way to up your intake, but time of day, season, skin color, sunscreen and other factors can impact your ability to absorb vitamin D. Ten to 15 minutes of sunshine per day is often enough to do the trick, but sun exposure carries an increased risk of skin cancer, so be careful out there.

About the Author

Kevin Gray
Kevin Gray

Kevin is a Dallas-based writer who spends the majority of his weekends on a bike. His less healthy pursuits can be found at Bevvy and Cocktail Enthusiast.

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