Are You Getting Enough of These Key Nutrients?

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Are You Getting Enough of These Key Nutrients?
April 15, 2022
RxLocal Team

How to Get All the Nutrients You Need in Your Diet

When you load up your plate with leafy green veggies, lean protein, and a good serving of grains, you may think you’re getting all the nutrients you need — but odds are, you aren’t.

Recent research shows that 92% of Americans aren’t getting enough vitamins and minerals. In addition, poor diet is responsible for more deaths than tobacco, high blood pressure, or any other health risk around the world.

That’s why it’s more important than ever that you’re mindful about what you put in your body — and that you do your diligence in getting the nutrients you need.

The best step in getting nutrients is consuming whole, healthy foods and curbing processed foods. Sometimes, though, that still isn’t enough. In this case, you should talk to your doctor and your local pharmacist about supplementing certain nutrients you aren’t getting from food. But where should you start?

Which Vitamins and Minerals Should I Take?

If you’re looking to kick up your nutrient intake, start with these 10 key vitamins, minerals, and supplements:

1. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin, also known as retinol. It’s found in foods like cantaloupe, mangoes, and apricot — and it’s essential for a number of chemical processes in your body. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin A is 900 micrograms for men and 700 micrograms for women. According to Healthline, vitamin A has a number of health benefits. Among other things, it:

  • Helps fight infection
  • Maintains healthy vision
  • Boosts your immune system
  • Supports skin and bone health
  • Lowers risk of certain cancers

2. Vitamin B Complex

There are 8 B vitamins within the vitamin B complex, and you need all of them to stay healthy. B vitamins are found in many foods, but most Americans still aren’t getting enough of them. B vitamins exist in leafy green vegetables, animal products, and whole grains — but many kinds of cereal, flour, and pasta are also fortified with them. Different B vitamins have different RDAs, along with different benefits. Altogether, though, the vitamin B complex:

  • Maintains healthy brain function
  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Reduces risk of heart attack and stroke
  • Helps generate red blood cells
  • Supports proper nerve function

3. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is known as the immunity-boosting vitamin, but it also offers other properties that keep you healthy. Vitamin C is found in citrus fruits, peppers, and other acidic foods (like tomatoes). The recommended daily allowance of vitamin C is 90 milligrams for men and 75 milligrams for women. According to WebMD, vitamin C:

  • Fights free radicals and protects cells
  • Maintains skin and tissue health
  • Strengthens bones and teeth
  • Supports the body’s healing process
  • May reduce the risk of getting the common cold

4. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient activated by UV light. Most people get vitamin D from sun exposure, but certain foods, like fatty fish, fortified juices, and cereals, can also serve as excellent sources of vitamin D. The RDA of vitamin D is 10 to 20 micrograms for adults, but vitamin D deficiencies are still common. In this instance, t’s sometimes wise to supplement vitamin D since it does so much for the body. According to the Mayo Clinic, vitamin D:

  • Builds and maintains healthy bones
  • Supports immune health
  • Improves muscle function
  • Enhances brain cell activity
  • Acts as an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory

5. Calcium

Calcium is a mineral needed for healthy bone growth. Most dairy products, like milk, cream, and cheese, offer calcium. Other foods, like spinach, soy, and rhubarb, also contain high amounts of calcium. The RDA for calcium in both women and women is 1,000 milligrams. According to the Cleveland Clinic, calcium touts a number of benefits:

  • Helps maintain strong bones
  • Helps maintain strong teeth
  • Improves muscle function
  • Aids in hormone secretion
  • Helps to achieve healthy blood pressure

6. Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral that’s crucial to the body’s functioning. In fact, magnesium plays a part in over 300 of the enzyme reaction that take place in the body. Foods like almonds, spinach, and cashew nuts are high in magnesium, but your doctor may recommend you supplement it if you’re deficient. The recommended daily allowance for magnesium is 400 milligrams for men and 310 milligrams for women. As far as benefits go, magnesium:

  • Supports cardiovascular health
  • Regulates blood sugar
  • Encourages healthy sleep
  • May fight migraines
  • May reduce symptoms of depression

7. Zinc

Like vitamin C, zinc also has immunity-boosting properties. Zinc is important for boosting metabolism, healing wounds, and even regulating your sense of taste and smell. Common sources of zinc include chicken, red meat, and fortified cereals. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc is 11 milligrams for men and 8 milligrams for women. According to Healthline, zinc:

  • Reduces inflammation
  • Reduces risk of infection
  • Supports proper immune function
  • May reduce the risk of age-related diseases
  • May minimize acne

8. Iron

Iron is an important mineral that helps maintain healthy blood. Still, many Americans are iron deficient. In fact, iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, often leading to extreme fatigue and lightheadedness. It’s important, then, that you get your recommended daily allowance of iron (8 milligrams for men and 18 milligrams for women). Iron is found in red meat, fish, and a variety of beans — or you can always supplement it. According to Very Well Health, iron:

  • Supports red blood cell development
  • Aids in energy production
  • Boosts brain function
  • Regulates body temperature
  • Supports a healthy immune system

9. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are essential to every system in the body, especially the brain, heart, and lungs. There are three types of omega-3 fatty acids: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found in plant oils, like flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood. Omega-3s can be hard to come by, but the recommended daily allowance (RDA) is 1.6 grams for men and 1.1 grams for women. You won’t want to skip out on them, either, as they have a host of health benefits. Web MD finds that omega-3 fatty acids:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Slow the development of plaque in the arteries
  • Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm
  • Supports proper blood flow in the brain
  • Reduce lung inflammation and improve your ability to breathe

10. Probiotics

Probiotics are all the rage right now, and it’s for good reason. Probiotics are microorganisms used to support gut health and prevent digestive problems. There are many different types of probiotics, all found in different foods. However, fermented foods (like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi) are typically excellent probiotics. Probiotic dosage varies based on the particular product, but dosages range from 5 to 10 billion colony-forming units (CFU) per day for children, and from 10 to 20 billion CFU per day for adults. Once in the body, probiotics:

  • Balance the “good” bacteria in your digestive system
  • Help prevent and treat digestive disorders
  • Lower cholesterol and blood pressure
  • Reduce the severity of certain allergies and eczema
  • May boost your immune system

Where Can I Buy Vitamins and Minerals?

You can find vitamins and minerals — along with a range of supplements — at most major retailers, but a good place to start is your local community pharmacy. Typically, pharmacies offer a great selection of high-quality health products (including all your necessary nutrients). When you shop at your local pharmacy, you’ll be able to talk to a real pharmacist who can give you real recommendations based on your health goals. It’s just one of the many reasons to love your local independent pharmacy.

Not sure where to find a pharmacy near you? Check out RxLocal’s Pharmacy Finder to get matched with a knowledgeable pharmacist in your area.

Stay Healthy with the Right Supplements

It can be hard to get your recommended daily intake of vitamins and minerals, but taking a supplement or two can help you to fill in the gaps and ensure you get the nutrients you need. If you’re considering supplementing a vitamin or mineral, talk to your doctor or your local pharmacist in order to find the right options for you.

Proper nutrition can be tricky to maintain, but it’s an investment for your health. Make sure you make that investment.