Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant. By neutralizing unstable oxygen molecules, it may help prevent damage to cells that could lead to cancer. Severe vitamin E deficiencies can cause nerve damage. Because many Americans don't get enough nuts and unsaturated oils, they may be in danger of falling short on this crucial nutrient.
How much to shoot for: 15 milligrams a day.
Where to find it: Almonds, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts, sardines, avocados, sunflower oil, cottonseed oil, safflower oil.
Bonus nutrients: Nuts are rich in unsaturated fats that help protect against heart disease.
Simple changes you can make: Snack on nuts. Put sliced avocado on sandwiches. Cook with a vitamin E-rich cooking oil.
This little known nutrient is essential for building and maintaining healthy cells. It is particularly important for muscle and nerve function.
How much to shoot for: 425 milligrams for women per day ; 550 milligrams for men per day.
Where to find it: Eggs, cooked dry beans, peas.
Bonus nutrients: Beans and peas are nutritional treasure troves, rich in protein and an array of nutrients, including folate, magnesium, and potassium.
Simple changes you can make: Have a hard-boiled egg for a snack now and then. Whip up an omelet with vegetables for lunch. Add cooked dry beans to your favorite Italian tomato sauce and spaghetti recipe.
Magnesium is required for more than 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It helps regulate blood pressure, maintains bone strength, and ensures a healthy immune system.
How much to shoot for: Women between the ages of 19 and 30 need 310 milligrams a day. After age 31, 320 milligrams. Men between the ages of 19 and 30 need 400 milligrams. Then the requirement rises to 420 milligrams.
Where to find it: Halibut, nuts, peanut butter, spinach, oatmeal, beans, lentils.
Bonus nutrients: Beans and lentils are rich in fiber and plant-based proteins. Nuts and fish are excellent sources of unsaturated fats, which help prevent heart disease.
Simple changes you can make: Have a peanut butter sandwich on oat bran bread for lunch. Snack on nuts. Make a three-bean casserole for an easy side dish at lunch or dinner.