If you’re a generally healthy eater with a varied diet you might assume that you’re getting all the vitamins and nutrients that you need, but nine out of ten American’s aren’t. Even the most careful eaters might be missing out on certain things thanks to following specific diets or even just how an active body processes food differently than an inactive one. Here are some common nutritional gaps that appear in every type of eater.
You already know that you need calcium for strong bones, (and for keeping your muscles and nerves functioning) but do you know if you’re actually getting enough of it? Low levels of calcium can lead to fatigue and muscle cramps. Besides a supplement the best places to get calcium include dairy products and dark leafy greens. Broccoli is actually a pretty good source of calcium for a vegetable. (And it’s very high in vitamin C as well.)
We need vitamin D to assist with calcium absorption, but a lot of people aren’t getting enough since most of the good sources of it come from fish. If you’re a vegetarian you’d be hard pressed to find enough in your food. The body can also get vitamin D however if we spend some time in the sunlight, but that of course requires that we actually spend some time outside. Walking from the car into the office doesn’t count. Try to take one of your weekly runs outside instead of on the treadmill to soak up a few minutes of rays.
Magnesium is found in fish, beans, dark leafy greens, and nuts, so if you will up on fast food and skip the natural ingredients you might be doing yourself a disservice. We also lose magnesium when we sweat so people who are very active might need higher levels of magnesium than other people. Magnesium is key for over 300 thing happening in the body, including keeping your metabolism running smoothly.
Most people get plenty of B12…unless they’re vegan. Most B12 comes from meat and dairy sources so if you abstain from those you might not be getting enough of the essential vitamin. B12 helps run the metabolism, keeps the body strong, and is involved in making DNA and keeping the blood cells healthy. Luckily B12 is pretty easy to get in the form of a multivitamin, and some vegetarian foods such as tofu actually have it added for convenience.
Most people in the U.S. aren’t deficient in zinc, but it can happen when people are vegetarians or experience chronic stress. Chronic stress means that the body experiences some adrenal fatigue which can make it harder to absorb enough zinc, magnesium, and calcium. Without zinc the body will release more histamine which leads to allergic reactions of different kinds. We need zinc to keep our cells happy, heal wounds, and to break down carbohydrates. Good sources of zinc are foods that are high in protein like chicken, beef, nuts, and legumes. Whole grains are a good source as well.