Are you getting all the nutrients you need? A study published in the Journal of Food Composition and Analysis found that about 30% of the calories that Americans consume daily come from sweets, desserts, sodas, alcohol, and salty snacks – foods that are not on the longevity checklist, and actually lead to illness down the road. Keep reading to find out which foods can give you the nutrients required to keep your health in top shape!
1. Vitamin D
In addition to promoting bone health, vitamin D is also a major factor in regulating metabolism, taming hunger cravings, and boosting your immune system. It is no surprise, then, to see more sniffles in the cold winter months when we are bundled away from the vitamin-D-giving sun. For an immunity boost, show some skin! Multiple studies demonstrate the association between increased vitamin D intake and reduced risk for colorectal, skin, breast, and prostate cancers. With the help of calcium and magnesium, vitamin D also improves bone development and cardiovascular health.
Vitamin D sources: Herring, salmon, halibut, cod liver oil, catfish, mackerel, oysters, sardines, tuna, shrimp, eggs, shiitake mushrooms
Another bone builder that about 56% of Americans lack is magnesium. It also maintains blood circulation, supports cardiovascular health, and helps your muscles and nerves relax.
Magnesium sources: Nuts, Swiss chard, dark leafy greens, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate, squash, pumpkin, cucumbers, black beans, navy beans, cereals, and bran. Get Dr. Oz’s Magnesium Grocery List.
Omega-3 fatty acids have been in the nutrition spotlight for quite a long time due to their amazing health properties. Fatty acids are the building blocks of fats, which are vital nutrients. These mighty omegas curb inflammation, regulate blood clotting, build cell membranes, and support cell health. Omega-3 is a polyunsaturated fat, which contributes to peak cardiovascular health by reducing blood triglycerides and LDL cholesterol. Because the body doesn’t produce omega-3, it is essential that we obtain it from our diets.
Omega-3 sources: Fatty fish like salmon, tuna, sardines, and mackerel, walnuts, flaxseeds, hempseeds, wild rice, omega-3 fortified dairy products and omega-3 enriched eggs
4. Vitamin E
As an antioxidant, vitamin E protects our cells from free radicals, and may help protect against cancer and Alzheimer’s disease. It is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins that our bodies require for optimal functioning. However, up to 93% of Americans lack sufficient amounts in their diet. Nuts, seeds, and vegetable oils are among the best sources of vitamin E; significant amounts are available in green leafy vegetables and many fortified cereals.
Vitamin E sources: Sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, olive oil, spinach, broccoli, kiwifruit, mango, and tomatoes
Calcium partners with vitamin D to keep our bones in peak shape, as well as maintaining proper nerve function and healthy blood pressure. Low intake of calcium has been associated with elevated blood pressure. It is best to receive our calcium from natural food sources to reap the benefits. The recommended daily intake is 1,000 milligrams per day for adults 19 to 50 years old, and 1,200 mg for those over 50.
Calcium sources: Dark leafy greens, oranges, sardines, broccoli, nuts, seeds, salmon, apricots, currants, tofu, figs, and low-fat dairy products
And, of course, if you feel that you aren’t getting enough of your vitamins from food alone, get some expert help from your physician or nutritionist to find out which supplements you can take.