Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up

Weight Loss & Diet Plans

Font Size

7 Nutrients Your Diet May Be Missing

Magnesium: Essential Nutrient for Bones, Immunity and More

Magnesium is an unsung hero of sorts. This mighty mineral participates in hundreds of bodily functions that foster good health, yet few people know that magnesium contributes to bone strength; promotes peak immunity; and normalizes muscle, nerve, and heart function.

You need this much magnesium every day:

  • Men, 19- to 30-years-old: 400 milligrams; 31 and older: 420 milligrams
  • Women, 19- to 30-years-old: 310 milligrams; 31 and older: 320 milligrams

Here's how to satisfy magnesium needs:

  • Opt for whole grains; quinoa and cracked wheat (bulgur) are particularly magnesium-rich.
  • Snack on pumpkin seeds.
  • Sprinkle an ounce of slivered almonds on top of cereal or low-fat frozen yogurt.
  • Choose legumes, such as black beans, white beans, and soy as a protein source a few times a week instead of meat.
  • Consume three servings of low-fat dairy foods each day.

Bonus nutrients: Quinoa and cracked wheat are filled with fiber; almonds are bursting with vitamin E and contain calcium; and dairy is also a calcium source.

Vitamin E: An Essential Nutrient to Combat Free Radicals

A misplaced fear of fat may harm health by preventing you from getting the vitamin E you need.

Vitamin E, found primarily in fatty foods such as nuts, seeds, and oils, is a potent antioxidant. It combats free radicals, the unstable oxygen molecules that result from normal metabolism as well as from exposure to air pollution, cigarette smoke, and strong ultraviolet rays.

Vitamin E is a complex nutrient; food supplies eight different types of vitamin E. Experts have determined that alpha-tocopherol vitamin E (AT) is the most useful of the vitamin E forms. Men and women over age 19 need 15 milligrams of AT every day.

Here's how to get more vitamin E from healthy fats:

  • Snack on sunflower seeds or almonds and add them to salads, steamed vegetables, and cooked whole grains.
  • Enjoy a nut butter sandwich on whole-grain bread.
  • Use sunflower and safflower oil instead of corn or vegetable oils.
  • Combine low-fat milk, honey and 1 ounce toasted slivered almonds in a blender for a delicious and nutritious smoothie.
  • Eat vitamin E-fortified ready-to-eat whole-grain cereals.

Bonus nutrients: Whole grains supply fiber; sunflower seeds offer magnesium and fiber; and milk contains calcium. 

Vitamin C: Essential Nutrient for a Healthy Immune System and More

It's touted for helping the body repel germs and cancer, but it's not solely responsible for a healthy immune system.

Vitamin C is also vital for the production of collagen, the connective tissue that keeps muscles, skin, and other tissues, including bone, healthy. And, like vitamin E, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps ward off cellular damage.

You need this much vitamin C daily:

  • Men, 19 and older: 90 milligrams
  • Women, 19 and older: 75 milligrams

Your body can't store vitamin C or make it, so you need some every day. Include some of these vitamin C-rich foods in your diet daily:

  • Raw sweet red pepper, 1/2 cup: 142 milligrams
  • Medium kiwi: 70 milligrams
  • Orange juice, 6 ounces: 61-93 milligrams
  • Strawberries, 1/2 cup raw: 49 milligrams
  • Cantaloupe, 1/4 medium: 47 milligrams
  • Broccoli, cooked, 1/2 cup: 51 milligrams

Bonus nutrients: Vitamin C-rich foods also provide potassium and fiber. Sweet red pepper and cantaloupe are rich in carotenoids. Consuming vitamin C at meals or snacks improves the absorption of iron from plant foods and iron-fortified grains.

WebMD Medical Reference

Today on WebMD

Woman trying clothes / dress
Woman looking at reflection in mirror
Hot cup of coffee
woman shopping fresh produce
butter curl on knife
eating out healthy
Smiling woman, red hair
What Girls Need To Know About Eating Disorders
teen squeezing into jeans
fitfor Teens

Special Sections