7 Nutrients You May Be Lacking in Your Diet
If you think that your diet is perfectly balanced, and you are getting enough nutrients such as Calcium (Ca), fiber and Vitamin E, you may be mistaken. There are seven basic nutrients, and scientists note that most people are not getting enough of them. Some people even lack a wider range of nutrients. In most cases however, this issue can be solved when people starting consuming the right food products.
Calcium – priority number 1 for your bones and muscles
It is wrong to think that you don’t require Ca as an adult just because you have grown up. It is not only needed to build growing bones, it is also important to keep them strong throughout one’s lifetime. Further, this element is essential for the heart: normal rhythm, blood clotting, and muscle function. As studies testify, Ca influences diastolic (low) blood pressure, and even plays a prominent role in weight control.
The thing is that as an adult, you not only need calcium; as experts state, you need it even more as you grow older. There are certain norms to the amount of Ca that should be consumed, depending on one’s stage in life.
- People aged 19-50: 1000 mg
- People aged 51+: 1200 mg
To ensure that the amount of Ca which the majority of people need in a balanced diet is sufficient, one should consume 3 milk products per day. It is essential to acquire Ca from food, especially dairy products. Moreover, it is assimilated better when combined with lactose (natural milk sugar).
Here are some food products containing about 300 mg of Ca per portion:
- 230 ml milk or yogurt
- 230 ml of orange juice enriched with Ca
- 40 gm of cheese
- 230 ml of soya drink enriched with Ca
Besides Ca, dairy products and soya are also sources of Magnesium, and orange juice has Potassium.
Fiber – to keep you generally healthy
Fiber is the most important nutrient for ensuring regular peristalsis of the bowels. It also helps to prevent other intestines disorders. It has been proved by numerous research studies that it is important for general health. Food products containing fiber eliminate the risk of chronic illnesses such as cardio-vascular disease, cancer, and type 2 diabetes. Fiber is often a filling in food. It is an ingredient in low-calorie food, and thus, contributes to weight control.
The amount of fiber you need is related to the number of calories you require. That’s why daily norms of fiber for males and females are different, and they become lower with age:
- Males aged 19-50: 38 gm. 51+: 30 gm
- Females aged 19-50: 25 gm. 51+: 21 gm
If fiber is so vitally important, why don’t most people consume enough of it? Nutritionists explain that this is due to a lack of plant products, whole wheat bakeries, and wholegrain products in particular.
There are several ways to increase the amount of fiber:
- Enjoy whole wheat crackers, fruit, vegetables, or wholegrain popcorn instead of candies, cookies and chips.
- Switch to whole wheat bread and wholegrain cereals, change from white macaroni to rough ground flour and other sorts of whole grains: barley, wheat, wild rice, and millet.
- Take bread loaves containing over 3 gm of fiber per slice, and choose cereals with more than 5 gm of dietary fiber per portion.
- Start eating beans such as black beans or lentils. Have some canned beans with your salads or second-course meals, as well as with eggs or pasta.
- Have fruit, vegetables and whole grains with each meal.
Additional nutrients: fresh and lightly processed fruit, vegetables and beans are rich in Potassium; and beans also contain Magnesium (Ma).
Magnesium: is excellent for the immune system and bones
Magnesium is often behind the scenes, however, we should not underestimate its importance for our body’s functioning. It improves our health, makes our bones stronger, boosts our immune system; and regulates the functions related to our heart, muscles and nervous system.
Men need more Ma than women, and everyone needs more of it with age. People should take the amount of Ma stated below every day:
- Males aged 19-30: 400 mg. 31+: 420 mg
- Females aged 19-30: 310 mg. 31+: 320 mg
How to get enough magnesium from food
- Choose wholegrain products. Unshelled wheat cereals and quinoa are rich in Ma too
- Pumpkin seeds are a good option for a snack
- Have some almonds with low-calorie yogurt
- Eat beans (black beans, white beans, and soya to replace the protein in meat, several times per week
- Have three portions of dairy products per day (preferably, low calorie)
Additional nutrients: quinoa and unshelled wheat provide fiber; almonds supply Ca, and Vitamin E. Milk contains a lot of Ca as well.
Vitamin E: a top nutrient to tackle free radicals
It is wrong to avoid fats. This is because it can be dangerous for your health as fats need to saturate Vitamin E. This Vitamin can be received from fatty food products: nuts, seeds and oils. Vitamin E is a very powerful antioxidant, and we should never forget that. It battles free radicals and unstable oxygen molecules. These molecules appear due to normal metabolism, the negative effects of environment pollution, strong UV rays, and cigarette smoke. Many people are concerned with losing weight, which is why they refrain from fatty products. Yet they are also depriving themselves of sufficient Vitamin E to protect their cells.
Plant seeds play a prominent role in supplying Vitamin E to our bodies. Thus, 30 gm of sunflower seeds provide 2/3rds of an adult’s daily need, while 30 gm of almonds supply almost 1/2. Vitamin E is not actually always the same, as it is a complex component. It falls into 8 different categories which can be received for nourishment. It has been proved that the most efficient one is AT (alpha-tocopherol).
Males and females of 19 years and over, require 15 mg of Vitamin E per day
Sources of Vitamin E include:
- Sunflower seeds and almonds, which you can add to salads, steamed veggies and whole wheat bakery
- Whole wheat sandwiches with nut butter
- Sunflower and safflower oil instead of corn oil
- Low-fat milk, honey, and 30 gm of roasted almonds minced together
- Ready grain breakfasts rich in Vitamin E
Additional nutrients: whole grains contain fiber, sunflower seeds supply magnesium and fiber, milk is rich in calcium.
Vitamin C – the basic nutrient for boosting the immune system
Vitamin C enables our body to kill microbes and tackle cancer, and serves as an immune booster as well. As studies on cancer prevention and healthy food show, dietary supplements of Vitamin C alone, are not enough. It should be obtained from fruit, vegetables and whole grains. This Vitamin is vitally important to produce collagen for healthy muscles, tissues, and skin. Alongside Vitamin E, Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant which helps to eliminate cell injury.
Make sure you get the necessary amount of Vitamin C daily:
- Males aged 19+: 90 mg
- Females aged 19+: 75 mg
The human body can only receive Vitamin C from external sources, and is not able to manufacture it. That’s why we should get it with food, and fruit and vegetables in particular. Here is a list of some products which are rich in Vitamin C.
- 1/2 cup of paprika equals 142 mg
- A middle-sized kiwi – around 70 mg
- A glass of orange juice (200 ml) – approximately 60-90 mg
- ½ cup of fresh strawberries – about 50 mg
- ¼ cup of musk melon – 47 mg
- ½ cup of boiled broccoli – around 50 mg
Additional nutrients: food rich in Vitamin C also saturates potassium and fiber. Musk melon and paprika supply carotenoids. Iron (Fe), is assimilated better when combined with Vitamin C from plants and grains enriched with iron.
Vitamin A and carotenoids: vitally important for the eyes
Vitamin A is an indispensable nutrient for healthy eye-sight, gene expression, tissue development and immunity, as well as various other functions. There are two types of Vitamin A, as they can be both ready and raw. Preformed Vitamin A is called “retinol,” and is ready for the body to use. Conversely, “carotenoids,” the raw form, are known as provitamin A, because the body needs to convert them into retinol.
While most people consume enough retinol, they still lack carotenoids from their diet. Even though there is no fixed recommended norm per day, we should include caratenoid-containing products in our diet.
Once you pay attention to this aspect, you should choose bright seasonal produce to get more carotenoids than usual. Top carotenoid sources include:
- Musk melon
- Sweet potatoes (batata)
- Paprika (sweet red pepper)
Additional nutrients: other food products containing carotenoids comprise potassium and fiber; spinach (which saturates Vitamin E and magnesium); and broccoli, which boasts Vitamin C.
Potassium – essential for muscles and nerves
Each cell in our body contains Potassium. It is important for the transmission of nerve impulses, fluid balance, and muscle stimulation. It is also beneficial for strong healthy bones, and gives us energy. Potassium is necessary to tackle hypertension, a specific issue which afflicts elderly people more than others. Males and females aged 19+ are supposed to have 4700 mg of potassium per day. One should bear in mind that some remedies to tackle hypertension wash Potassium out of the body, and patients with high blood pressure issues require more of it. Taking this into account, if you suffer from hypertension, seek medical advice regarding the best remedies to tackle it.
Nourishment rich in Potassium for your daily needs:
- 1 cup of canned white haricot (about 1200 mg)
- 1 cup of processed spinach (840 mg)
- 1 average-sized batata (700 mg)
- 1 cup of fat-free yogurt (580 mg)
- 1 cup of orange juice (230 ml)
- 1 cup of musk melon (430 mg)
- 1 cup of processed broccoli (460 mg)
Additional nutrients: haricot contains Magnesium and fiber. Batata and broccoli may enhance fiber and carotenoids, and yogurt saturates Calcium.
Who requires more nutrients?
The following two nutrients are essential for pregnancy:
Folic acid is a synthetic folate of the Vitamin B group. Folic acid and folate, which a pregnant woman gets from food and daily supplements, are vitally important for the healthy development of the baby’s nervous system, and neural tubes in particular, during the first 30 days. Moreover, Folic acid is also important during the rest of the pregnancy. It helps to build up cells and prevents various types of anemia. The recommended daily dose for pregnant women is 400 mcg. Women should start consuming meals which saturate folic acid, even before pregnancy. Folic acid is assimilated better than folate from food. Nevertheless, folate-rich nourishing is essential, as well.
Foods rich in folic acid include:
- 30 gm of ready grain breakfasts (100-400 mcg)
- 1 plate of enriched spaghetti (80 mcg)
- 2 enriched slices of bread (34 mcg)
- 1 cup of processed lentils (360 mcg)
- 1 cup of cooked spinach (260 mcg)
- 1 cup of processed broccoli (170 mcg)
- 1 cup of orange juice (110 mcg)
Iron (Fe) saturates oxygen in the cells and body tissues. Women should get enough Fe both before and during their pregnancy. When a pregnant woman lacks iron, it may result in anemia. To avoid such risks, they should consume enough heme iron from animal products, as these offer the most easily assimilated form of this mineral. Alongside meat products, women are advised to consume plant foods which are rich in Iron combined with Vitamin C. The latter contributes to the assimilation of non-heme iron. In the case of females aged 19 to 50, it is desirable to have around 18 mg of iron, and pregnant women should take 27 mg daily.
Heme iron is supplied from:
- 90 gm of processed beef (3 mg)
- 90 mcg of cooked turkey (2 mg)
- 90 mcg of chicken (low-fat) (1 mg)
Non-heme iron is saturated by:
- 1 cup of boiled haricot (5 mg)
- ¾ cup of wholegrain breakfast cereal (22 mg)
- 1 cup of instant oat cereal (10 mg)
- 1 cup of processed soya beans (8 mg)
What the following groups of people have in common: elderly people, dark-skinned individuals, and those who need to avoid the sun rays
The thing which may unite them is the insufficient amount of Vitamin D they receive. The latter is produced by our skin, and is affected by the sun light. Those who do not expose themselves out in the sun enough, end up with an insufficient amount of Vitamin D. The same applies to dark skinned people due to the high melanin index in their bodies, which protects them from the sun’s rays.
Our body loses its ability to produce Vitamin D, so even if elderly people spend enough time in the sunlight, they still lack Vitamin D. What is more, the daily need for Vitamin D increases with age. People need a double norm of it after 51 years of age (this makes 400 international units – similar to 4 glasses of milk) and after 70 years of age – up to 600 units.
Moreover, there are quite a few products which can provide Vitamin D. This can be found in milk and grain breakfasts, as well as dietary supplements. As the concentration of Vitamin D in food is quite rare, the best option is to ensure you are getting a sufficient quantity by combining enriched nourishment with dietary supplements.