4 Important Nutrients You May be Missing


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  72 comments   :  20,451 Views

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?

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  • 22
    great information!Thank you! - 12/14/2009   3:14:32 PM
    Thanks for giving us this helpful information. - 12/14/2009   3:06:11 PM
  • 20
    It looks like you can get 3 out of 4 of these nutrients from almonds. That's a good thing to remember. I generally eat a balanced diet, but I take a calcium supplement because I am 52. It seems like its hard to get enough calcium from food unless you have milk, cheese, or yogurt with every meal.

    P.S. Doesn't sun exposure also increase vitamin D? - 12/14/2009   2:52:30 PM
  • 19
    THANKS FOR THE GREAT BLOG !!!! - 12/14/2009   1:41:54 PM
  • 18
    I am concerned that I am getting either not enough or too much of various nutrients. I had the symptoms of not getting enough magnesium, (plus according to tracking it on Spark I wasn't) so I started taking a supplement,

    Now I finally get enough, but I have very low blood pressure and digestive upset... Dang not having health insurance! - 12/14/2009   1:33:34 PM
  • 17
    My doctor told me I was deficient in B-12 and Vitamin D. I take 5000 IU of each one everyday. - 12/14/2009   1:32:28 PM
    Thanks for the information. I do not take any supplements. - 12/14/2009   12:09:10 PM
  • 15
    I take calcium tablets & a multivitamin daily - 12/14/2009   11:52:21 AM
    good info thank you - 12/14/2009   11:31:17 AM
  • 13
    Had not know the value of Magnesium this was very interesting information.
    Thank you - 12/14/2009   10:54:21 AM
  • 12
    This was great information, and except for maybe the vitamin D, I've been on the right track! Yay! - 12/14/2009   10:47:11 AM
  • 11
    Being a vegetarian, I should be aware of any missing nutrients...but my doc said (when I was pregnant) that food variety & supplements will keep me kicking for a long time. :)

    I still take prenatal vitamins (natural ones w/ no animal products) even though I have my tubes tied & they keep me feeling good! My vitamin levels have never been low on anything, so I'm a believer in the natural vitamins, but I do make sure to get a nice variety of foods as well. - 12/14/2009   10:27:56 AM
  • 10
    You need to add fish oil - pretty much a standard for anyone who has risk of heart disease. - 12/14/2009   9:44:03 AM
  • 9
    I've always eaten cheese and drank a lot of milk, so I have no problem. I also take Vitamins daily. - 12/14/2009   9:39:17 AM
  • 8
    My doctor did an actual blood test for calcium and Vitamin D and I was low on both. She is having me take calcium/vit d combo supplement until she says I don't have to. I can handle that! - 12/14/2009   9:35:09 AM
  • 7
    I'm doing good on three of these as I regularly eat Greek yogurt, eggs and brown rice (almost daily) - I need to eat more spinach I guess for the Vitamin E!
    (I also take a daily multi- though). - 12/14/2009   9:01:01 AM
  • 6
    What a coincidence: My doctor just told me that I was not getting enough vitamin D and to begin supplements. When I read up on it, it looked like taking D with calcium and magnesium was a good idea, so I got Vitamin D and a Calcium/magnesium/zinc supplement and I have been taking this at night after dinner and I really do feel better! - 12/14/2009   8:44:25 AM
  • 5
    Pleasantly surprised to find that most of my favorite foods contain these vital nutrients. That makes a girl feel better! - 12/14/2009   8:30:25 AM
  • 4
    One of the things I like jabout Spark is the capacity to select nutrients to be assessed at day's end when I am diligent about tracking my food. I have discovered I am constantly short on calcium, potassium and magnesium. I have not entered Vitamin D; since people are not Outdoors much and now, when they are, often "sunscreened", it makes good sense vitamin D is often low now. I tend to wait til I am outdoors, put on the sunscreen, and begin working; that way, I know I got 15 min of sun, or so, because it takes a bit for it to begin working. Unless something comes up to tell me this is not a commonsense solution, I will continue to do it.
    Kat - 12/14/2009   7:58:34 AM
  • 3
    I asked my doctor if I should be concerned about my Vitamin D level. He said because overweight people have some much pressure on their bones that I didn't need to worry about it but did order a check of my level. Imagine my surprise [or his] when it came back low and he put me on Vitamin D supplements. It pays to be proactive about our health! - 12/14/2009   7:10:29 AM
  • 2
    I agree. I have my vitamin d level checked, but that is only by a specialist, not my primary. I try and take certain suppliments to make up what I don't get by eating. It's not always easy to get what you need by foods alone. - 12/14/2009   6:41:04 AM
  • 1
    I think that a vitamin profile should be included in a yearly physical, our bodies are constantly changing as we age, so our dietary needs change as well. - 12/14/2009   6:32:40 AM

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