Monday, October 6, 2014

Five Important Nutrients We Don't Get Enough Of

Harvard's Food Plate for proper nutrition

I have to admit, I honestly thought I was one of the healthier people around. I normally would get a small serving of vegetables at every meal, eat the occasional fruit, and never skip a meal. I would exercise at least 10-15 minutes a day and jog around 5km once a week. I also love to drink both coffee and tea, two drinks packed with antioxidants. 

Imagine my surprise when I started tracking my Daily Nutritient Details using My Fitness Pal. I was sadly mistaken. I drink a tablet of multivitams every day to protect myself against nutrient deficiencies, so I only lack around 3 of the 5 nutrients I mention below. However, I'm going to present results without factoring in multivitams because most of us don't drink a tablet each day. Here are my nutrient details over the past week: 

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Average
Fiber 16% 18% 16% 6% 26% 40% 46% 22% 24%
Potassium 26% 26% 22% 15% 42% 32% 86% 89% 42%
Iron 16% 26% 43% 31% 40% 121% 32% 41% 44%
Vitamin A 26% 1% 31% 29% 16% 34% 136% 98% 46%
Calcium 6% 33% 4% 58% 40% 117% 95% 107% 58%
*for a 20-25 aged, lightly active male

Looking over the results, I failed to get enough Dietary Fiber and Potassium the most. Since I drink multivitamins daily, I was able to get enough Iron and Vitamin A if I factored it in and towards the latter end of the week I started drinking a lot of milk to achieve my daily Calcium requirements after adjusting to the initial results. 

What happens if we don't get enough of these nutrients?

1. Dietary Fiber

We need around 14g of Dietary Fiber for every 1000-calorie increment in our diet to function properly, and lack of Dietary Fiber in our diet normally results in constipation, weight gain, blood sugar fluctuations, and diet-related nausea and tiredness according to WebMD.

To get enough Dietary Fiber, make sure to incorporate a lot of fruits, vegetables, and whole wheat in your diet. Here's a list of 50 fiber rich food!

2. Potassium

Potassium helps our muscles contract, maintain fluid balance, and maintain a normal blood pressure. Now, the recommended Potassium intake per day is 3500-4700, and it's apparent that we don't get enough of it. Lack of Potassium in our diet results in muscle weakness, nausea, diarrhea, frequent urination, dehydration and even irritability according to WebMD.

Here's a list of food with the highest levels of Potassium to get enough of it in your diet.

3. Iron

Iron is very important to the body as it helps transport oxygen in the body, and the body needs 8mg of Iron daily for men and 18mg for women. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, fatigue, and decreased immune function according to

You can either get your daily dose of iron from multivitamins like I do, or your can look at this list of food with the highest iron content.

4. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is important for the proper development and functioning of our eyes, skin, and immune system and can reduce complications of multiple diseases according to WebMD. Deficiency in Vitamin A can cause loss of vision and an impaired immune system.

To get enough Vitamin A in your diet, you can get it from multivitamins or you can check this list of Vitamin A rich food

A serving of this Water Spinach (Kangkong) Recipe will already provide 63.5% of your daily Vitamin A requirements. 

5. Calcium

We all know that Calcium is an essential mineral for healthy bones and teeth, but it is also necessary for your hearth and nerves to properly function according to WebMD. We need around 1000mg of calcium per day, and when the body doesn't get enough Calcium, you risk memory loss, muscle spasms, depression and even hallucinations.

Of course, the best source of calcium is through milk and dairy products but you can check other calcium rich food from this link.

I hope that this article helps raise awareness on the importance of these nutrients and minerals. At the end of the day, I suggest you follow Harvard's Healthy Eating Plate above or get a multivitamin to supplement your diet.

Any other suggestions for a healthier diet? Let me know through the comments below.

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Chef Jay

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