Nutrition 101

The Nutrients You Need

Get the recommended daily amounts of the vitamins and minerals you need to maintain good health.

By Sally Solo
Pita bread with bean sprouts, onion, and can of tunafishCon Poulos
A recent government report found that Americans aren't getting enough calcium, fiber, magnesium, potassium, or vitamins A, C, and E. "You're not going to have a major health event as a result," says Alanna Moshfegh, an author of the USDA report What We Eat in America, "but the recommended amounts will help you maintain your health and decrease your risk of chronic diseases." Here are the figures (as they pertain to women) and a little help interpreting them.

Calcium

Recommendation: 1,000 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Bone health.
Sources: Dairy products; fish with bones; dark, leafy greens.

Fiber

Recommendation: 25 grams a day.
Benefits: Protects against coronary heart disease and reduces the risk of diabetes.
Sources: Fruits, vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains.

Magnesium

Recommendation: 310 to 320 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Helps maintain normal muscle and nerve function and develop and maintain bones.
Sources: Nuts, seeds, bran, halibut and other fish.

Potassium

Recommendation: 4,700 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Helps maintain healthy blood pressure and reduce the effects of salt; may reduce the risk of recurrent kidney stones and possibly decrease bone loss.
Sources: Potatoes, tomato paste and puree, white beans, yogurt, soybeans, bananas.

Vitamin A

Recommendation: 2,310 international units a day.
Benefits: Important for vision, red blood cell production, embryonic development, and immune function.
Sources: Organ meats; orange vegetables; green, leafy vegetables.

Vitamin C

Recommendation: 75 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Acts as a disease-fighting antioxidant; may help to maintain a healthy immune system.
Sources: Fruits and vegetables, including citrus fruits, red and green peppers, kiwis, and guavas.

Vitamin E

Recommendation: 15 milligrams a day.
Benefits: Acts as a disease-fighting antioxidant; may support eye health.
Sources: Some ready-to-eat cereals, some oils, almonds, peanut butter.

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Nuts

Juice may serve up vitamins, but it won’t do much to ease hunger: Unlike solid foods, liquids don’t trip the brain’s satiety mechanism. For a more effective snack, pair a glass of 100 percent juice with a few nuts. Get more tips.