When we diet and reduce our calorie intake, we inevitably lessen our consumption of certain foods. This means we may not get all the vitamins and minerals that are vital to our health.
While keeping our weight down is important, we have to be careful not to harm our health in the process. To do so, we need to make sure our nutritional intake always includes the following vital minerals:
- Minimum recommended daily intake: 420 mg for men, 320 mg for women.
- Why we need it: Magnesium is essential for muscle performance and the operation of our nervous system. It keeps the heart healthy, regulates blood sugar levels, supports the immune system and keeps our bones strong.
- Signs of shortage: Lack of appetite, nausea, headaches, forgetfulness, aching or twitching muscles, tension and chronic fatigue.
- Sources: Almonds, leafy vegetables such as basil, parsley and spinach. salmon, cashew nuts, soy beans, pinto beans, whole grains, lentils, bananas and yogurt.
- Minimum recommended daily intake: 5-15 micrograms (mcg)
- Why we need it: Vitamin D promotes the absorption of calcium, is crucial for bone growth, muscle performance and maintaining the immune system. The vitamin also reduces the risk of bone degeneration and, along with calcium, may prevent osteoporosis.
- Signs of shortage: Rickets in muscles and bones. Symptoms for this disease include repetitive bone pain and muscle weakness.
- Sources: Salmon, tuna, mackerel, cod liver oil, beef, cheese, egg yolks, fortified milk, soy milk, orange juice and yogurt (small amount); getting some sunshine.
- Minimum recommended daily intake: 1000-1200 mg.
- Why we need it: Calcium is essential for maintaining strong bones and healthy teeth, as well as daily bodily functions such as muscle contraction, blood clotting and transmitting neural signals.
- Signs of shortage: No immediate symptoms, but long-term effects include osteoporosis.
- Sources: Dairy products, yogurt and cheese, fortified orange juice, almonds, leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, sardines, tofu, tahini, salmon, soy milk, broccoli and black beans.
- Minimum recommended daily intake: 400 mcg.
- Why we need it: Folic acid isn't just crucial for pregnant women or women who are trying to get pregnant - it's essential for all human beings to create DNA and RNA strands (the building blocks of our bodies). Folic acid also helps in the creation of red blood cells and prevents the occurrence of anemia. It may also prevent cancer cells from forming.
- Signs of shortage: Diarrhea, loss of appetite, losing weight, weakness, tongue sores, headaches, heart palpitations, irritability and forgetfulness. Pregnant women who aren't getting enough folic acid are at risk of giving birth prematurely, or to a child with birth defects..
- Sources: Greens like broccoli, spinach and Brussels sprouts, legumes such as chickpeas, nuts, corn, avocados, brown rice and fruits like bananas, oranges and papaya.
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- Minimum recommended daily intake: 8-18 mg.
- Why we need it: The body needs iron to create hemoglobin, a mineral in red blood cells that allows oxygen to move throughout the body. Iron helps create red blood cells and fights anemia and fatigue, improves our memories and is essential to the growth process. Without it, we may suffer spinal degeneration, problems with our reproductive system or a blood shortage.
- Signs of shortage: Dizziness, fatigue, anemia, pallor, low energy levels and headaches.
- Sources: Spinach, oatmeal, lentils, chicken, tofu, clams, barley, baked potatoes with skins, peanuts and flaxseed.
- Minimum recommended daily intake: 8-12 mg.
- Why we need it: Zinc keeps our immune system healthy, heals and protects our skin, increases brain activity, is essential for emphasizing our senses of taste and smell, and can even give some relief to PMS symptoms.
- Signs of shortage: Loss of appetite, weight loss, slow healing of wounds, dry skin, hair loss, diarrhea, disruptions in senses of smell and taste and foggy memory.
- Sources: Lean beef, oysters, chicken, beans, yogurt, cashews and sunflower seeds.