The reason that heavier Americans are nutrient deficient: Foods that are high in calories aren’t necessarily high in vitamins. Ever wonder about the nutrients in food?
Fill your plate with veggies and fruit that deliver nutrient power and balance it with a protein.
- VITAMIN A—Aids bone growth, helps organs function and preserves vision. Find it in: Meat, fish, dairy products and veggies. Eat three cups of dark leafy greens and two cups of orange veggies each week.
- B Vitamins Elevated levels of homocysteine damage blood vessels, and the relationship between homocysteine and stroke risk is well established. Luckily, homocysteine levels can be quickly reduced with supplemental B vitamins, particularly folic acid (not folate—check the label) and vitamins B6 and B12. Several studies have found that high intake of folic acid and other B vitamins can reduce the risk of ischemic stroke by about one-fifth. Researchers just analyzed 14 human studies, including almost 55,000 people, and reported in the journal Neurology that B-vitamin supplements reduced the risk of stroke by 7 percent.
- Vitamin B12: keeps your central nervous system in working order, which is why too little can lead to numbness, weakness and anemia. But adults over 50, as well as those with digestive disorders such as celiac disease, tend to have trouble absorbing the vitamin, Largeman-Roth says. Because it’s found mostly in animal-based foods, vegetarians and vegans also could fall short.Vinegar- B12 Benefits
- How much B12 you need: 2.4mcg daily
Best food sources: Yogurt, shrimp and chicken Liver, sardines, mackerel, herring, red snapper, flounder, salmon, lamb, swiss cheese, eggs, haddock, muenster cheese, swordfish, beef, bleu cheese, halibut, bass.or, for vegan options, fortified breakfast cereals and nondairy milks
- It is important to eat nourishing foods. Due to lack of finances or no longer having someone with whom to share a meal, one may not eat nutritious foods, which can lead to malnutrition. A deficiency in vitamins and minerals can masquerade in a number of different ways, for example a deficiency in either vitamin B12 or vitamin D3, is associated with falls and many other conditions that people assume are simply a sign of aging. Signs of a B12 deficiency might show up as one or more of the following: cataracts, macular degeneration, essential tremors, cognitive impairment, chronic fatigue syndrome, sleep disturbances, suppressed immune system, psychiatric illness (clinical depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders which may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal) to neurologic problems such as multiple sclerosis (MS) or Parkinson’s disease. (Note that to be effective, B12 requires folate, not to be confused with folic acid.)
- VITAMIN C—Important for collagen production (which helps keep skin resilient), vitamin C is a must-have for all the membranes in the body, from your heart to your adrenal glands (which help control blood pressure and how your body reacts to stress). C has been shown to shorten the duration of a cold if taken before the onset of symptoms. Find it in: Citrus fruits, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe.
- VITAMIN D—Assists in calcium absorption and aids bone growth. It works with calcium to keep your bones strong and reduce your chances of developing osteoporosis. It may help keep colds from worsening; helps with asthma. There’s some evidence that it may help prevent depression and cognitive decline, particularly in older adults. But because it’s only found in a few foods, most of us don’t get nearly as much as we should, says Ruggiero. vitamin D3, is associated with falls and many other conditions that people assume are simply a sign of aging.
How much you need: 600IU daily
Best food sources: fatty fish, like salmon, trout and tuna, eggs, fortified milk (dairy and nondairy), fortified yogurt and fortified orange juice,sunlight, mushrooms
- VITAMIN E—Fights off invading bacteria and viruses, and helps widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them, which may help prevent hardening of the arteries. Consider it brain food. New research suggests that vitamin E may protect against what are called white matter lesions—small clumps of dead cells—that are linked to heightened Alzheimer’s risk. Compelling evidence justifies its use in preventing or resolving thrombophlebitis. In a Harvard Medical School study of almost 40,000 women, those who took 600 IU of vitamin E every other day for 10 years had a substantially lower risk of life-threatening blood clots. Overall, women taking vitamin E had a 21 percent lower risk of deep-vein thromboses or pulmonary embolisms. Those who had such clots before joining the study had a 44 percent lower risk of future clots, and those with a genetic tendency toward clots had half the risk if they took vitamin E supplements.
How much you need: 15mg daily
Best food sources: Sunflower seeds, almond butter and hazelnuts. Find it in: Almonds, sunflower seeds, Swiss chard, avocado, peanuts and leafy green veggies.
- CALCIUM—Helps the body do everything from building bone to clotting blood. A deficiency can lead to neuropathy (numbness or tingling in the hands and feet), osteoporosis and more. The vitamin is mostly found in foods high in fat, though, which means you could be missing out if you’ve reduced your intake of even healthy fats. To make room for more E-rich foods, focus on cutting out sources of empty calories in your diet instead, such as added sugars often found in packaged foods Find it in: Milk, yogurt, cheese, kale, broccoli, canned sardines, salmon, fortified cereals and fruit juices.
- MAGNESIUM—Necessary for more than 300 chemical reactions in the body, magnesium is key for helping the heart muscle function better, protecting blood vessels, helps with memory, muscle pain, leg cramps and spasms, depression, high blood pressure, asthma, insulin resistance, irregular heartbeat, and according to two recent studies, it may also help reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Magnesium helps reduce your chances of hip fracture, keeps your immune system in fighting form and plays a role in staving off diseases such as diabetes and metabolic syndrome. It helps with memory and for people with chronic pain as it inhibnits TNF which is a pain-causing chemical (in higher amounts). Still, research suggests that nearly half of all adults may be deficient—particularly those who eat a gluten-free diet, as whole grains are a significant magnesium source.
- A large number of studies have found that magnesium supplements can also reduce blood pressure. In an analysis of seven studies, researchers confirmed that magnesium supplements reduced both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Other researchers investigated magnesium levels in people with and without pre-hypertension, which reflects a slight but consistent increase in blood pressure. People with pre-hypertension had low levels of magnesium, but no other apparent differences with healthy subjects.
How much you need: 320mg daily
Best food sources: Spinach, cashews, avocado, brown rice and black beans
Supplement Magnesium L-threonate Find it in: Legumes, whole grains, edamame, dark chocolate,spinach, cashews, avocado, brown rice, black beans and veggies such as broccoli and squash.
- PROTEIN As we age, our bodies are less efficient at processing protein’s amino acids, so we may need more protein to promote healthy muscles, Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, says. A 150-pound woman should get around 68g per day from a mix of lean animal sources, such as chicken or turkey (four ounces has 35g), and plant sources, such as beans (most varieties are 15g per cup).
- Potassium: Only 1 percent of women consume enough potassium, a mineral that helps cut your risk for heart disease and stroke by lowering blood pressure. In fact, one analysis of nearly 250,000 adults found that increasing potassium intake by just 1,600mg per day slashed stroke risk by 21 percent. The good news? “Most fresh fruits and vegetables have 300mg to 400mg potassium per serving,” says Frances Largeman-Roth, RD, author of Eating in Color (Stewart, Tabori and Chang). According to Dr. Mercola, evidence shows having the correct potassium to sodium balance influences your risk for hypertension and heart disease to a far greater extent than high sodium alone, and the Western diet tends to be lacking in potassium. Moreover, when lowering salt in processed foods, many manufacturers took to adding monosodium glutamate (MSG) instead — a flavor enhancer associated with a number of health problems, including obesity, headaches, fatigue and depression. Due to its ability to overexcite neurons, MSG may even raise your risk for neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Lou Gehrig’s disease.How much you need: 4,700mg daily
Best food sources: Swiss chard, lima beans, sweet potatoes, bananas and cantaloupe
- Choline: An essential micronutrient, choline supports the liver’s natural detoxification process (no juice cleanse necessary!). Some research also suggests that getting enough choline could reduce your risk for breast cancer. But unfortunately, most women over age 50 take in only half their daily quota.
How much you need: 425mg daily
Best food sources: Eggs (particularly the yolks), salmon and Brussels sprouts
MY GROCERY LIST BASED ON THE ABOVE:
- Avocado, broccoli, squash, dark leafy greens: kale, swiss chard, spinach (Broccoli must be cooked as the goitrogens in it can wreak havoc on the function of your thyroid gland which influences your body temperature, mood, and your metabolism. Cooking helps reduce the goitrogenic substances by up to a third. Eating several of these foods in one day has a cumulative effect, so eat them in moderation Foods that are high in iodine that you could eat with them include kelp and other sea vegetables, fennel, Jerusalem artichokes, cow’s milk, eggs, and raisins.
- Orange veggies: Citrus fruits, sweet potatoes and cantaloupe. (Sweet potatoes just as broccoli contain goitrogens.)
- Yogurt, cheese, fortified milk, and fruit juices, orange juice, mushrooms
- Almonds, sunflower seeds, peanuts, cashews
- Brown rice
- Canned sardines, fatty fish, like salmon, trout and tuna.
- Fortified cereals
- Legumes, whole grains, edamame, black beans
- Dark chocolate
- Turkey, chicken
A multivitamin can help offset deficiencies or, to break the high-cal, low-nutrient cycle.