The latest nutritional guidelines for Americans state that many Americans are not getting enough of four vital nutrients. Over time, a deficiency in these nutrients can affect various aspects of your health, from teeth and bones to your heart, intestines, muscles, blood pressure, weight, and more.
What is nutritional deficiency?
Nutritional advice can be confusing. Eat more of it, less of it. Make sure you are getting enough – but not too much. No wonder many people have so-called nutritional deficiencies, where their diet does not contain enough essential nutrients.
So what nutrients do you really need and how much? And what important nutrients are most people lacking?
The American Dietary Guidelines 2020-2025 offer some insight. Updated every five years by the U.S. Department of Health and the USDA, the report found that many Americans are lacking four key nutrients: calcium, potassium, fiber, and vitamin D.
According to the guidelines, these four are considered “dietary ingredients of public health concern for the general US population”. This is the government talk for: These nutrients help you stay healthy, and you should probably eat more of them.
Four nutrients you need – and where to find them
Here’s a closer look at these four nutrients, how much you need and some of the best sources as per current guidelines.
The specific daily amounts of each nutrient are based on the recommended daily caloric intake for adult men and women who do not need to lose or need to gain weight. For example:
- Women aged 19 to 50 should aim for 1,800 to 2,000 daily calories; women aged 51 and older should aim for 1,600 calories
- Men aged 19 to 50 should aim for 2,200 to 2,400 calories and men aged 51 and older should aim for 2,000 calories.
Of course, the specific calorie needs will depend on the person, but these numbers provide a reasonable estimate.
Food is always the preferred source as it will provide you with other important vitamins and minerals needed for optimal health. However, if you are having trouble eating the recommended foods, check with your doctor about dietary supplements.
Note that the servings listed are not recommended serving sizes for these foods. But they should help you get more of the fabulous four in your daily diet. (See this DGA resources page for a more detailed list of the foods that contain these nutrients.)
How much: Women: 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams (mg); Men: 1,000 mg
Where can i find it? 8 ounces of non-fat yogurt: 488 mg; 1 cup of low-fat or soy milk: 301 to 305 mg; 1 cup of cooked spinach: 245 mg; 1/2 cup tofu: 434 mg.
How much: Women: 2,600 mg; Men: 3,400 mg
Where can i find it? 1 cup cooked lima beans: 969 mg; 1 medium baked potato with skin: 926 mg; 1 cup cooked acorn squash: 896 mg; 1 medium banana: 451 mg; 3 ounces Skipjack Tuna: 444 mg.
How much? Women 22 to 28 mg; Men: 28 to 34 mg
Where can i find it? 1 cup of crushed wheat grain: 6.2 mg; 3 cups of popcorn: 5.8 mg; 1/2 cup navy or white cooked beans: 9.3 to 9.6 mg; 1 cup of berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries): 6.2 mg to 8 mg.
How much? Women and men: 600 international units (IU)
Where can i find it? 3 ounces salmon: 383 to 570 IU; 3 ounces canned tuna: 231 IU; 1 cup of unsweetened soy milk: 119 IU; 1 cup 1% milk: 117 IU; 8 ounces of non-fat yogurt: 116 IU; 1 cup of 100% fortified orange juice: 100 IU.