5 things you may not be getting enough of in your diet

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5 things you may not be getting enough of in your diet

Even if you try to eat a healthy diet, you may be not getting all the important nutrients you need. Recommendations vary according to your particular circumstances and health, but many people don't get enough of the following nutrients:

Protein

Protein is used to build bones, muscles and cartilage. You need plenty of it if you're an athlete. It also helps to spread your protein consumption throughout the day. Instead, most people eat the vast majority of their protein at dinner. Current guidelines suggest that we get 10 to 35 percent of our calories from protein.

What to eat: Experts recommend eating "good" sources of protein instead of focusing solely on red meat. Lean meat, eggs, fish, cottage cheese and Greek yogurt are all good sources of protein. Eating protein-rich snacks are thought to help keep you feeling full throughout the day.

Iron

Iron helps carry oxygen to your cells, and a deficiency of this mineral can make you feel lethargic. Women in particular may not be getting enough iron, which can be depleted by pregnancy and heavy periods.

What to eat: Iron-rich foods include red meats (choose lean cuts for a healthier option), beans, spinach and seafood.

Potassium

Most people should be getting about 4,700 milligrams of potassium a day, but the average American only gets about 1,755 milligrams a day. This important mineral helps control the heart's electrical activity and build muscle, and it may also help protect against high blood pressure, osteoporosis and kidney stones.

What to eat: Fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, dairy, fish, poultry and meat are rich in iron.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps build healthy bones and also helps keep muscles strong. It even helps protect us from cancer and type 2 diabetes. Vitamin D deficiency in the U.S. is most prevalent among African-Americans when compared to other races. The general recommended dietary allowance is 600 international units (IUs) for people age 1 to 70 years old, increasing to 800 IUs at age 71 and older.

What to eat: Milk usually has vitamin D added, and it's also found in fatty fishes (such as salmon and tuna), mushrooms and egg yolks.

Fiber

The average American adult eats only 15 grams of fiber a day, far short of the 25 grams needed by women and 38 grams needed by men.

Soluble fiber (which dissolves in water) can help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol and help regulate blood sugar. Insoluble fiber can help prevent constipation and lower your chances of getting diverticular disease, which affects the colon.

What to eat: Beans, peas, oatmeal, nuts, apples, pears, strawberries and blueberries are good sources of soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is found in whole grains, nuts, seeds, carrots, greens beans, and dark leafy vegetables.

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