You’re scrolling through your social media accounts and suddenly get an urge to gobble down a sugary crème-filled donut that completely overrides the Greek yogurt you had for breakfast. (It happens, we get it.) In a perfect world, you could just bypass the relentless food marketing ads and delicious-looking posts from food bloggers, but the belly sometimes has a mind of it’s own.
Here’s the solution: make sure you’re supplying your body with the key nutrients you need to combat those tasty food temptations and live a healthy lifestyle. Research shows that the average American diet lacks vital nutrients that the body needs to decrease risk of chronic diseases, improve digestion, maintain health, and in a lot of cases, reduce cravings.
Of course, while everyone’s nutritional requirements are different – you can take advantage tools like the USDA’s My Weight Manager tracker to determine your individual requirements – these are six nutrients you could probably use a little more of.
If you suffer from irregular bowel movement and constant hunger after finishing a meal, low levels of fiber could be to blame. You might be in need of fiber-rich foods such as green peas, broccoli, raspberries, nuts, avocados, and whole grains that promote digestion, support gut health, and lower your risk of heart disease. And you’re not alone. Research shows that 95 percent of Americans are not getting the recommended 25 grams of fiber per day.
Vitamin D isn’t found in many foods, so it isn’t a surprise that only 30 percent of Americans are meeting their daily requirement. Vitamin D increases your resistance against certain diseases, promotes the development of bones and teeth, and helps your body meet its required levels of calcium. The body creates Vitamin D when it is directly exposed to sunlight, which means that a deficiency could be solved just by spending a bit more time outside. When all else fails, you can also try to add helpful foods like sardines, salmon, and fortified orange juice to your diet.
More than 44 percent of Americans are deprived of their daily USDA recommended consumption of 4,044 milligrams of potassium – and you can’t live without it. This nutrient keeps your heart beating, helps your body maintain a healthy blood pressure, and regulates water balance. Also, if you’re trying to reduce your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and osteoporosis, start loading up on potassium that can be found in sweet potatoes, white beans, kidney beans, nonfat yogurt, skim milk, bananas, peaches, honeydew melon, and halibut.
Approximately three out of four Americans fail to consume enough magnesium, which can end up causing headaches, fatigue, weakness, and a flurry of other medical conditions. The National Institute of Health recommends various dietary allowances for magnesium based on your age. Magnesium is a disease-fighting, energy-producing mineral used by every organ in your body and can be found in spinach, whole grains, and almonds.
If your system is running low on vegetable oils, nuts, seeds, cereal grains, and spinach you’re probably a part of the 60 percent of Americans who are not getting at least 15mg of vitamin E per day. This immune-boosting mineral is known to improve vision, balance cholesterol, repair damaged skin, thicken hair, and balance hormones.
Research shows that women have been falling behind in meeting their recommended 18mg daily intake of iron. But the problem is easy to fix, since you can get iron from a ton of dietary sources, like broccoli, lentils, cashews, and dried apricots. Individuals who are most at risk for not meeting their daily iron requirements include people with cancer, teen girls and women with heavy menstrual cycles, and pregnant women and teens. Iron is a vital building block of proteins that is needed to fight memory loss and make certain hormones, connective tissue, and proteins found in red blood cells.