Per the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, there are several “shortfall nutrients” that may be deficient in your diet. Here they are:
Potassium: If you have normal kidneys, potassium promotes blood pressure control by countering the role of excess sodium. The recommended amount is 4700 mg a day, which most people do not get. Fruits, vegetables, and beans are sources of potassium. Bananas, citrus, avocado, kiwi, and melon are excellent for potassium supplementation. Dark leafy vegetables, like spinach, kale, and turnip greens also provide potassium as well.
Vitamin D is recommended currently to be taken at 600 IU a day for the average adult, but 800 IU a day if you are older than 70. Not only does it protect your bones but also there may be some protection from cancer and chronic disease. Sources include fish such as sardines, mackerel, rainbow trout, and tuna (all have a lot of omega-3 fatty acid as well). Fortified yogurt and fortified milk are also excellent sources.
Fiber: plays a lot of roles in the body, but higher intake lowers your colon cancer risk. The target is 25 grams a day for women age 19-50 and 38 gm for men in that same age range. For men over 50, 30 gm a day is enough and 21 gm a day for women over 50 is sufficient. Sources include whole grains, cereal, pasta, rice, and bread. Substitute dried beans for meat in your dish to increase fiber without destroying taste.
Calcium: 1000 mg a day is the daily value needed. Calcium fortified milk and yogurt are helpful sources. Dark green leafy vegetables are good sources, with kale, Bok choy, and broccoli being choices as they have less oxalates that can bind calcium in the gut and preventing absorption of calcium.
Bones need more than just calcium. They need Magnesium, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K. There are medical factors as well that come into play with respect to bone health. For example, there are medications that can wash out your bones, such as prednisone, and diseases, such as parathyroid disorders, that can result in early osteoporosis. Get checked for these types of issues. From the nutrition point of view, there are measures you can take to help prevent osteoporosis.
Calcium: You need 1000-1200 mg a day. This is the backbone of your bones, literally!
Magnesium: The RDA is 310-420 mcg (micrograms) a day. Magnesium is tied in with bone health, in that a lower magnesium intake is associated with lower bone mineral density. Supplementation to near the RDA suppresses bone loss in postmenopausal women. Around half of your magnesium stores are in the bones. Food sources high in magnesium include: Almonds, spinach, black beans, kidney beans, avocado, peanut butter, edamame, and whole-wheat bread.
Vitamin C: This is important for the immune system and also linked to less bone loss. the RDA is 75-90 mg a day. Good sources include: oranges, strawberries, red and green bell peppers, kiwi, mango, and others.
Vitamin B12: The RDA is 2.4 mcg a day. Low B12 levels affect the nervous system as well as bone mineral density and osteoporosis. Sources include clams, salmon, haddock, canned tuna, milk, yogurt, egg, cottage cheese, breakfast cereals that are fortified.
Vitamin D: The RDA is 600-800 IU a day. It is essential to Calcium absorption in the gut. Supplementing at 800 IU a day decreases the risks of hip and non-vertebral fractures. Sources include: Cod liver oil, swordfish, canned tuna, fortified orange juice, eggs, and sockeye salmon.
Vitamin K: The RDA is 90-120 mcg a day. There appears to be a link between vitamin K intake and decreased risk of fractures. Sources of Vitamin K include: spinach, brocolli, green leaf lettuce,kale, swiss chard, collard greens, and brussel sprouts. If you take blood thinners, be careful of interactions with vitamin K. Ask your doctor.
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