5 Nutrients You May Not Be Getting Enough Of

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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Life Extension. Thank you for supporting the brands that make this blog possible.

In an ideal world, everyone would eat a perfectly balanced and nutritious plate of food at every meal–one that includes plenty of fresh veggies, fruits, lean protein, whole grains and healthy fats. But those of us who live in the real world know that’s usually not the case. Whether find yourself grabbing something while running out the door or fueling for your workouts in route to the gym, you’re likely eating on-the-go for some part of your week and may be missing out on crucial nutrients. During these busy times, a supplement may help keep you happy and healthy. Here are 5 nutrients that I see people missing out on the most.  

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Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): Men: 400-420 milligrams (mg)/day; Women: 310-320 mg/day

What it does: vital for bone health, muscle function, heart health, electrolyte balance and energy production. In other words, it’s necessary for everyone, but especially those who move their body often!

Although magnesium is a not-so-glamorous nutrient, it’s been getting a lot more buzz lately, and rightfully so! Research including over 8,000 individuals states that half of Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet. Unfortunately, a magnesium deficiency can cause migraines, muscle cramps, confusion, numbness in extremities or ankle swelling. On a more serious note, a magnesium deficiency can increase your risk of death by heart disease. The problem is that magnesium status is quite difficult to assess with a simple blood draw. The only way to know if you’re getting enough is to look at the amount in your diet.

Magnesium is abundant in plenty of plant-based foods, like leafy greens, chickpeas, white beans, pumpkin seeds, prunes, oats, brown rice and avocados. But if those foods aren’t on your daily menu, look to a supplement to get enough.

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2. Omega-3

Adequate Intake: 1.6 grams for males and 1.1 grams for females

What it does: contributes to healthy cell structure and energy production. Other research has found that eating enough omega-3’s can help with cognition, heart health and reducing inflammation.

Most people know that omega-3’s are good for them, but I would wager a guess that many Americans don’t realize that those healthy omegas are actually “good fats”. These essential fatty acids are not made by the body, so you can only get them from external sources, like nuts, oils, avocados, flax seeds and fatty fish. The Dietary Guidelines recommends eating fish 2x/week to get your dose of omega-3’s, but most Americans only eat about half that. If you’re not a regular nut or fish eater, you can absolutely benefit from an omega-3 supplement.

3. Vitamin D

RDA: 600 IU

What it does: aids in calcium absorption and helps with maintaining bone strength. Adequate Vitamin D intake is also associated with supporting heart health, maintaining healthy cell division,  and healthy blood pressure.

Most people are deficient in Vitamin D–that’s just a fact. Otherwise known as the “sunshine vitamin”, this nutrient comes from mother nature’s solar device. Since many people spend most of their time indoors, they don’t soak up enough of this important vitamin. Not to mention that people with darker skin tones have a hard time absorbing Vitamin D. In addition to the sun, Vitamin D comes from fatty fish, liver, cheese, egg yolks and mushrooms–in other words, a really select list of foods. I take a Vitamin D supplement everyday, and you may want to consider doing the same.

4. Choline

AI: 550 mg

What it does: sends signals from the brain to working muscles and is crucial for early brain development.

If your first thought is, “WTF is choline?”, I feel you. This nutrient just popped up on my radar in the past year, and now I have a bottle of it in my medicine cabinet. According to recent research, 65% of Americans have never even heard of choline. Once you hear that statistic, you won’t be surprised to find out that 90% of people don’t get the recommended 550 milligrams (mg) per day. With choline only in a few foods, like liver, eggs, leafy greens and lima beans, it’s no wonder that it’s under consumed. If you’re pregnant or not eating enough of those foods, try a choline supplement.

5. Probiotics

What it does: contributes to the health of your digestive and immune system. The right mix of probiotics may play a part in less incidences of obesity.

Okay, you got me. Probiotics aren’t a nutrient per say, but you could always use more of them. Otherwise known as the “good bacteria” in your gut, probiotics contribute to the makeup of your microbiome. Although probiotics are still in the early stages of research, most of what we know points to the fact that consuming probiotics is a good thing. But here’s the rub—we have way more bacteria in our gut than genes in our entire body, so everyone’s microbiome is very different. In other words, there’s no one probiotic that works best for everyone. Because so much is unknown, there’s one thing you need to know about picking a probiotic–the more strains and cultures, the better.



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I’m Natalie Rizzo, an NYC-based Registered Dietitian.

My mission is to help everyday athletes fuel their fitness with plants.

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