Most of us are well aware of the obesity epidemic that’s plaguing America and other first world countries today. Despite the fact that most people are getting enough to eat, many are essential vitamins and minerals deficient – the building blocks for health, energy and vitality.
While it may seem puzzling that someone can be both overweight and nutritionally deficient, it really shouldn’t be too surprising. With processed foods taking the place of healthy, nutritious food, we’re getting enough calories – but what many aren’t getting is real nutrition. It seems we have a penchant for soda and processed food, but a severe phobia of fruits and veggies! However, fulfilling your nutrient profile can be as easy as making 1 or 2 simple lifestyle changes.
Here’s a quick look at five vitamins and nutrients that many Americans are deficient in, and see how you can get more of these all-important nutrients.
Ninety percent of the U.S population isn’t getting enough fiber in their diets! Not all calories are created equal, and studies show that diets rich in fiber and whole grains can help to prevent obesity. We all know that fiber is important for digestive health, but a lesser-known fact is that it can also help protect against heart disease. As a general guideline, the Institute of Medicine Adequate Intake guidelines recommends 14 grams of fiber per 1000 calories. You can get your fiber through a variety of foods including wheat, corn, rice bran, split peas, black beans, and lentils, as well as raspberries, broccoli, strawberries, and asparagus.
A super mineral that’s easy to overlook, magnesium is essential for building and strengthening bones. Magnesium also keeps the blood circulating smoothly, and supports heart health and muscle function. Yet, it’s estimated that 68 to 80 percent of Americans are magnesium deficient. Yikes! In fact, several long-term studies have shown a correlation between high magnesium levels and a lower risk of heart disease. Magnesium also helps to support a healthy immune system. Magnesium is found in many common vegetables such as spinach, Swiss chard and cucumbers. It’s also in beans, lentils and nuts.
You may be thinking… “Choline –what’s that?” Mysterious and often-forgotten, Choline is a water-soluble nutrient that’s usually grouped as part of the B-vitamin complex. Studies show that Choline is a necessary part of the human diet and is crucial for liver function, brain development, and muscle movement. It also supports energy levels and can help you to maintain a healthy metabolism. Unfortunately, though, only 10 percent of Americans are getting the daily recommended amount. To boost your choline intake, opt for muscle meats, eggs, and fish, as well as nuts, spinach, wheat germ, beans, and peas.
Here’s a scary thought: without enough potassium, your heart can literally stop beating! Not having enough potassium can also lead to muscle cramps, fatigue and high blood pressure. Clinical studies have shown that a high-potassium diet can lower blood pressure. With such an important job, you would think potassium would be one nutrient that many would keep an eye on.However, only about 56 percent of Americans reach the recommended intake each day. Potassium can easily be obtained from bananas, spinach, orange juice, beets, and sweet potatoes.
Calcium isn’t just for kids! Throughout your life, your bones are constantly rebuilding themselves and require calcium to help them remain strong.
Many published studies have shown that low calcium intake throughout life is associated with low bone mass and high fracture rates, although most people are not getting enough of this nutrient. Calcium is also responsible for assisting in nerve transmission and helping blood to clot properly. A deficiency can result in weakened bones and even fractures. We all know calcium is in dairy products (Got Milk?), but it’s also in green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and asparagus.
While miniscule in size, vitamins and minerals play a big role in your diet. With a few simple changes to your diet, you’ll be able to help your body to function at its absolute best. Keeping yourself well nourished instead of just fed will give you more energy and vitality, and it will leave you feeling healthier than before. Score!