The SparkPeople Blog

4 Important Nutrients You May be Missing

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
12/14/2009 6:07 AM   :  72 comments   :  14,721 Views

See More: nutrition, trends,
Vitamins and supplements are big business about a $20 billion business to be more exact. Many medical providers agree that taking a multivitamin can be beneficial but for many people that eat a well balanced diet, it isn't typically necessary.

A recent position paper by the American Dietetic Association reveals that eating a variety of foods to consume your nutrients is the best way to stay healthy and avoid chronic disease. This isn't a new nutrition philosophy but it is a message that can't be restated often enough in our supplement crazy society.

Most people can get the nutrients their body needs from a typical meal plan that includes a variety of foods from all food groups. However, many of us are falling short in several key nutrients and additional supplementation may be beneficial to help fill in the gaps.

Here are 4 important nutrients that may provide supplementation benefits even with a healthy diet.

Calcium - An important mineral for blood pressure control and muscle contraction as well as bone and teeth health.

Best Sources - Greek Yogurt, skim milk, almonds, tofu and spinach

Who May Benefit From Supplementation - With a suggested daily need of 1,000 mg and an increased need for woman over the age of 50, supplementation may be necessary and beneficial for some people. There is also some suggestion that supplementation may benefit those that work out a great deal, especially for woman since having adequate calcium has been found to reduce the risks of stress fractures.



Magnesium - An important nutrient involved in over 300 metabolic interactions in the body as well as being important for building muscle.

Best Sources - Whole grains like brown rice, almonds, lima beans, and soybeans.

Who May Benefit From Supplementation - People at risk for developing type 2 diabetes may find that adequate intake of magnesium reduces risks of developing the disease. It is important to talk with your medical provider before beginning any supplementation because too much of a good thing can be harmful. It is important to note that food labels report magnesium content as %DV based on a 2,000 calorie diet so determining how much you are getting may be difficult. Since high levels of magnesium can cause dangerously low blood pressure in some people as well as digestive upset, before deciding if your diet is deficient, meet with a Registered Dietitian or consult with your medical provider to ensure that supplementation is necessary or if including more magnesium rich foods in the diet is sufficient.



Vitamin E - An essential vitamin that assists with blood thinning as well as helping to fight free radicals by serving as an antioxidant. Since antioxidants help reduce risks of premature aging and disease, having a diet rich in vitamin E helps serve as a great anti-aging technique.

Best Sources - Almonds provide 35% of your daily vitamin E requirements in a 1 oz serving with other good sources including wheat germ, sunflower seeds and spinach.

Who May Benefit From Supplementation - If you have risk factors for heart disease or currently have heart disease and do not get enough vitamin E in your diet, you may benefit from supplementation. Because vitamin E supplements may not be advised with certain medications and medical conditions due to the blood thinning, it is best to discuss the need for supplementation with your medical provider or Registered Dietitian before including them in your daily regimen especially since this is a vitamin that is fairly easy to get from a healthy diet.



Vitamin D This important vitamin has become one of the most talked about vitamins of late. Recent findings suggest that over 70% of American's have low vitamin D blood levels. It is unclear if this is because we are not eating enough, are not processing it adequately for some reason, because our actual needs are higher than originally thought or a combination of several of these theories. It is known however that vitamin D is an essential vitamin for adequate wound healing, immunity and maintaining blood pressure.

Best Sources - Whole eggs, salmon, vitamin D fortified skim milk

Who May Benefit From Supplementation - People that follow a vegan diet are at increased risk of having low vitamin D levels and may benefit most from supplementation. People with certain medical conditions may also be at increased risk as well. Before deciding if you would benefit from supplementation, talk with a medical provider about blood tests. You may also benefit from meeting with a Registered Dietitian to make sure the food choices you are making, maximize your vitamin D intake.

How are you doing with your vitamin and mineral intake? Do you maximize your food selection to ensure adequate intake?



Click here to to redeem your SparkPoints
  You will earn 5 SparkPoints
 

NEXT ENTRY >   To Stretch or Not to Stretch, the Debate Continues

Great Stories from around the Web

Comments

  • 72
    I have added all the nutritional info from my daily vitamins to Spark Nutrition & I created my own group Daily Vitamins. I have copied that group over to everyday. That way I can see what nutrients I met for the day & which ones were low. I am trying my darnest to meet all of my nutritional requirements with diet & supplements & I still don't meet them all. Also, if you have a health condition, you may have to change your daily requirements for certain minerals & vitamins. Do your research and set up a plan. - 2/20/2011   10:30:44 PM
  • 71
    Why oh why does it seem impossible to be active and get all my nutients from the healthy variety of foods, mostly organic or homegrown, that I consume? - 4/4/2010   12:55:09 PM
  • BLOND1E
    70
    As a Lyme Disease survivor, I'm now permanently magnesium deficient. I work hard to make sure that I select foods higher in magnesium, or I start to feel the muscle twitches returning, especially after exercising vigorously. - 2/23/2010   11:37:53 AM
  • 69
    I'm looking into what is IN my supplements...a lot of them have calcium carbonate, which according to wiki is an ant-acid that happens to provide some calcium. I can't help but wonder if this calcium carbonate is affecting the absorption of the other vitamins that i'm taking.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Calciu
    m_carbonate

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antaci
    d
    - 2/7/2010   12:46:51 AM
  • TEENYTINYPIP
    68
    I am tracking my calcium intake closely because I am aware I don't get enough. I decided that if by the end of the month I can't easily boost my intake that I will consider a suppliment - 1/18/2010   4:58:46 PM
  • 67
    I take calcuim with D and a multi with minerals. Not taking the chance I am not getting enough - 12/25/2009   7:31:09 AM
  • 66
    i have a hard time remembering to take my multivitamin but i am going to put that on my to do list. - 12/21/2009   12:37:49 PM
  • 65
    I do take a women's multivitamin daily, an extra 600 mg calcium, and will try to eat most of those foods listed above. Thanks for the advice! - 12/19/2009   10:27:47 PM
  • 64
    Even the healthiest diet will NOT suppiment an active lifestyle's nutrient requirements... Supplimentation is MANDITORY for proper function while training!

    I take an active women's multi-vitamin (EVERYONE should take at least this, at minimum, IMHO!), fish oil capsules (we need healthy fat in our diet to burn fat! Crazy, eh?), vitamin C (who likes being sick?), vitamin D (we don't get much vitamin D from food, we synthesize most of what our body uses from the sun... and I live in Canada and in the winter months, we don't get enough of it!), potassium (to eliminate muscle cramps, eating a banana works too) and calcium (if I'm not eating enough dairy).

    And if I intend to get pregnant, I will increase my folate and take a prenatal vitamin to replace the multi that I currently take.

    And yes, I still find time to eat REAL FOOD! LOL - 12/19/2009   2:15:18 AM
  • 63
    Lots of good information. I take a multi vitamin for women over 50, I do feel great, plus extra calcium with vitamin D, I buy and eat raw almonds every time i run out of them. I like to put them in my broccoli, and fiber one cereal. I eat them for fiber too. - 12/16/2009   2:47:24 PM
  • 62
    Please remember that not all vitamin supplements are not equal. Some are better than others because our bodies absorb the nutrients better. Ask you doctor to recommend the best ones. I take Citrical Calcium-D, includes vitamin D and is one of the best calcium supplements to take. Your body will abosorb 50% more of the calcium than other brands. - 12/16/2009   1:41:42 PM
  • 61
    I read an article once that said sewers are full on undigested vitamin tablets. It made me try to get all my vitamins from real food. I must look into my calcium intake as I am now in the danger age. - 12/16/2009   12:02:31 PM
  • 60
    I was eating some almonds for breakfast as I read this, and suddenly became very happy that I have learned to love them! I don't have anything against vitamin/mineral supplements, but I'd like to try to get as much nutrition from my food choices as possible. I do eat drink all of the items listed, but do I eat these kinds of foods often enough to get the adequate nutrients for my body? If not, then I'd consider adding a supplement. If I ever got pregnant I'd probably take supplements, too. - 12/16/2009   11:49:42 AM
  • K_RENEE
    59
    good information. I did not know that about magnesium. - 12/15/2009   9:03:00 PM
  • ITCANBEDUN
    58
    I take a multivitamin, but thanks for the information. - 12/15/2009   8:50:50 PM
  • 57
    Magnesium and Zinc also help with the "thinning hair" so many of us are experiencing. I know it helped me - the hair is coming back. - 12/15/2009   6:04:30 PM
  • 56
    Looks like eating almonds will hit 3 of the 4! Good to know.... didn't know almonds had calcium. I'm sure I'm low in all 4, so probably need to supplement! - 12/15/2009   5:04:02 PM
  • BERNIE22
    55
    My Levothyroxine is depleted by all of the above. What to do? - 12/15/2009   4:34:50 PM
  • 54
    I am surprised that you did not mention the fact that we have been hounded to reduce sun exposure and wear sunscreen from the health business/community for ages. Sunscreen blocks Vitamin D and this could be a major cause of deficiency! - 12/15/2009   4:11:33 PM
  • 53
    Great information here!!! Thank you. - 12/15/2009   1:59:35 PM
  • 52
    How are you doing with your vitamin and mineral intake? Do you maximize your food selection to ensure adequate intake?

    According to my dailey food counter, I am not meeting all my vitamin and mineral needs. I do take a multi-vitamin but do wonder if I should take magnesium (never meet) and a few of the others. - 12/15/2009   1:32:41 PM
  • 51
    I take vitamins everyday! Twice a day. My first is a multi & flaxseed & fish oil,B complex & cranberry-Afternoon is my calcium & D, along witha fiber supplement! - 12/15/2009   1:23:04 PM
  • 50
    Until recently I never have taken supplements. My doctor recommended Vit D-3 and B-12 to help with the bout of depression I've been diagnosed with. Especially now that I am living in Michigan where there is a lack of consistent sunshine in the winter months. I've also been taking a multi and calcium (over 50 here!). It's an adjustment to remember to take them but I think it is helping me. I eat a fairly balanced diet, but I'm willing to give these vitamins a chance! - 12/15/2009   11:31:10 AM
  • 49
    I've been taking a multi-V, a calcium-magnesium-zinc-D, and a B-complex. How does one know if they're deficient?

    FYI, boy, was I surprised when the B-vits turned my urine chartreuse! - 12/15/2009   11:27:48 AM
  • 48
    Yay for almonds, my evening snack. Doing something good for myself and didn't even know it. - 12/15/2009   11:17:57 AM
  • 47
    I am post-op gastric bypass (2 years now!), and I have my blood tested every 6-12 months to verify the nutrient levels. I take my required supplements (multi-V, calcium citrate, B-complex, B12) daily and prescribed (D) supplements when needed. I also take B5/B6 for energy, and am rarely sick. I know how important it is for me to continue this regimen for the rest of my life. My health depends on it! - 12/15/2009   11:07:10 AM
  • 46
    I've been taking OneADay for quite some time and I've recently 'upgraded' to the Womens version. I'm also taking Glucosamine Sulfate to help my creaky bones (hips mostly). At one time after a fall, my doctor had me add calcium. A while later, another doctor found in a blood test that my calcium was too high, so I've gotten off of those. - 12/15/2009   11:05:00 AM
  • RLMCCUE
    45
    On the advice of my doctor I take a multivitamin and calcium and vitamin D supplements. I do regularly eat some of the foods mentioned in the article, particularly spinach almonds, soy beans, and brown rice. I think this is great information, thanks for providing it! - 12/15/2009   9:12:17 AM
  • 44
    Although I am taking daily multivitamins, I was recently diagnosed with Vitamin D deficiency... :-( - 12/15/2009   9:10:00 AM
  • RAVENSLOFT
    43
    I take my daily supplements..and that helps...though I could use the extra calcium. - 12/15/2009   8:54:25 AM
  • 42
    As I age I feel the need to add supplements to my daily routine. I feel they help me. - 12/15/2009   8:47:40 AM
  • RAFFERTYMOMMA
    41
    I have been having some medical issues lately. The doctors only found that my vitamin D levels were down. I've been doing some of my own research and found most of my symptoms are the same for those who are severely vitamin D and calcium deficient. Who knew such simple nutrients could make such a big difference! I'm going to start talking like my mom, "Are you taking your calcium??!!!" :) - 12/15/2009   6:55:08 AM
  • 40
    afraid i'm probably guilty on all counts.... - 12/15/2009   6:31:19 AM
  • 39
    Great article and by the responses it seems a lot of us have been surprised about the vitamin D! I have been a faithful supplement taker and read about the 70% of us who were deficient and was surprised! I live in IL and my husband started to give me 2000 iu a day which seemed like a lot! After two months I had my blood level checked and I was barely in the normal range! Now that it is winter I am sure to take my vitamin D! The other big surprise to me is how a deficiency in vitamin D is linked to dpression, especially those with Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). It is also essential in our immune system. My mom (who is 88 and sharp as a tack) tells how her Dad made her take a tablespoon of cod liver oil all winter as a kid. Cod liver oil has a good dose of vitamin A and D! Boosting her immune system in winter in IL with a little extra A&D wasn't my grandpa smart!

    - 12/15/2009   6:02:36 AM
  • 38
    I live in Arizona (land of sunshine) so I was quite surprised when I learned my Vitamin D level was low. I made sure I was drinking at least one glass of skim milk, took a supplement for a short period of time and at the next check, I was back in range. - 12/15/2009   1:16:51 AM
  • 37
    Thanks for the info, anything that will help us get healthier is great! - 12/15/2009   12:51:22 AM
  • 36
    Good blog and enjoyed reading others thoughts - 12/14/2009   11:34:00 PM
  • 35
    most people don't get enough calcium, especially as we get older. Vit. D is essential for calcium absorption ~ always take both. i take Vit. E for supple skin in conjunction with lots of water!! - 12/14/2009   10:34:19 PM
  • 34
    I say supplement Calcium and Vit D, not mag or Vit E. - 12/14/2009   9:31:55 PM
  • CONTEACH
    33
    My doctor did a vitamin D test last spring and I was severely deficient. I now take a supplement and have tons more energy. I feel like a new woman. - 12/14/2009   9:21:17 PM
  • 32
    have my bottle of Vitamin D in the cupboard right now - 12/14/2009   8:00:11 PM
  • 31
    Good to know - 12/14/2009   7:42:13 PM
  • 30
    so i eat almonds every year and thats gurantee me 3 of 4 - 12/14/2009   7:07:15 PM
  • 29
    Surprisingly very good being that I try to eat the right types of foods rather than depending on synthetics. - 12/14/2009   6:43:25 PM
  • 28
    great article,can you have to much magnesium, is it ok to have calcium pills fortified with magnesium - 12/14/2009   6:17:24 PM
  • 27
    My Dr. has my on extra Vit. D in addition to my multivitamin since my levels came back low. I was also told to eliminate my extra Vit. E because a) there is NO known disease caused by a lack of Vit. E and b) too much of it can actually cause complications with some types of heart disease. - 12/14/2009   6:13:12 PM
  • 26
    I take a women's multi-vitamin (it has extra calcium), a Vitamin E supplement, a Vitamin D supplement (I live in Canada & work at night, so I never see the sun), and an Omega-3-rich fish oil supplement. I also take a prescribed iron supplement because I have borderline anemia.

    My doctors have always highly recommended Vitamin D supplements. - 12/14/2009   5:50:02 PM
  • 25
    gotta love those almonds! - 12/14/2009   5:46:14 PM
  • 24
    More great info from Spark! - 12/14/2009   4:19:15 PM
  • 23
    I think if we just eat a variety of fresh, whole foods we should be fine. I don't worry about nutrients. Read the books by Michael Pollan "Omnivore's Dilemma" and "In Defense of Food". His slogan is "Eat Food. Mostly Plants. Not too much". I like to keep things simple, and this does it. Only in the past 50 or so years have we worried about individual nutrients, and yet our health has been on a downhill slide in this same time frame. He suggests just eating a variety of whole, unprocessed foods, and not worrying about individual nutrients. I agree. - 12/14/2009   3:28:47 PM

Please Log In To Leave A Comment:    Log in now ›


Join SparkPeople.com

Sign up for a FREE SparkPeople account