3. Vitamin A : Essential Nutrient for Eyes
How Much You Need: Vitamin A comes in two forms: as retinol (which is ready for the body to use) and carotenoids, the raw materials the body converts to vitamin A.
How to Get More of It: Make your diet colorful. Top picks include:
- Sweet potatoes
- Sweet red pepper
4. Potassium: Essential Nutrient for Nerves and Muscles
Why It’s Good for You: Potassium is present in every cell of your body. It plays a key role in maintaining muscles, nerves, and fluid balance. Potassium also promotes strong bones, and you need it for energy production. Getting enough potassium also hedges against high blood pressure.
How Much You Need: Men and women age 19 and older need 4,700 milligrams of potassium every day.
If you have high blood pressure, check with your doctor or pharmacist about the medications you take to control it. Some drugs, including certain diuretics, make you lose potassium, so you need to compensate for the loss.
How to Get More of It: These potassium-packed foods will help you meet your daily quota:
- 1 cup canned white beans: 1,189 milligrams
- 1 cup cooked spinach: 839 mg
- Medium sweet potato, cooked: 694 mg
- 1 cup fat-free yogurt: 579 mg
- 1 cup orange juice: 496 mg
- 1 cup cooked broccoli: 457 mg
- 1 cup cantaloupe: 431 mg
- 1 medium banana: 422 mg
5. Folic Acid
Why It’s Good for You: If there's a chance you'll become pregnant or are pregnant, this is particularly important. Folic acid is the synthetic form of the B vitamin folate. Once you conceive, folic acid and folate, the natural form, help protect your baby against neural tube defects (and possibly cleft lip or palate) during the first 30 days.
How Much You Need: Getting the recommended 400 micrograms of folic acid every day from supplements is a must for women who may become pregnant. (Many prenatal vitamins have as much as 800mcg.) Folate is important throughout pregnancy, too. It's involved in cell production and guards against a certain type of anemia.
How to Get More of It: In addition to taking a folic acid supplement, women who could become pregnant should eat folate-rich foods including:
- Breakfast cereals: 1 ounce equals 100-400 micrograms of folic acid
- Enriched spaghetti: 1 cup cooked equals 80 mcg folic acid
- Enriched bread: 2 slices equals 34 mcg folic acid
- Lentils: 1 cup cooked equals 358 mcg folate
- Spinach: 1 cup cooked equals 263 mcg folate
- Broccoli: 1 cup cooked equals 168 mcg folate
- Orange juice: 1 cup equals 110 mcg folate