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Missing Nutrients in Your Food

Even the most conscientious eaters may have dietary deficiencies.


Magnesium is involved in all sorts of bodily processes. It strengthens bones and keeps the immune system up to snuff. Magnesium also plays a key role in the function of your heart, muscles, and nerves.

The recommended daily allowance of magnesium is:

  • Women, age 19-30: 310 milligrams/day
  • Women, age 31 and older: 320 milligrams/day
  • Men, age 19-30: 400 milligrams/day
  • Men, age 31 and older: 420 milligrams/day

Good sources of this nutrient in food are:

  • Brazil nuts (1 ounce): 107 milligrams
  • 100% bran cereal (1 ounce): 103 milligrams
  • Cooked halibut (3 ounces): 91 milligrams
  • Almonds (1 ounce): 78 milligrams

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is crucial for a lot of reasons. It's good for vision -- that's why your mother always told you to eat your carrots. It's also important for immunity and tissue growth.

How much do you need?

  • Adult men: 900 micrograms/day
  • Adult women: 700 micrograms/day

However, there are actually two types of vitamin A: retinol and carotenoids. The latter are the ones that are missing from too many American diets. There's no official daily recommended amount of carotenoids that you need. But you should try to get some of this nutrient in your food every day.

Foods that have carotenoids include:

  • Baked sweet potato, with skin: 1,096 micrograms
  • Cooked fresh carrots (1/2 cup): 671 micrograms
  • Cooked spinach (1/2 cup): 573 micrograms
  • Cooked winter squash (1/2 cup): 260 micrograms

Vitamin A is also in many fortified cereals and oatmeal.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C actually has several important roles in keeping you healthy. In addition to boosting the immune system, vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that can prevent cell damage. It also helps make collagen, an important part of bone and cartilage.

How much do you need?

  • Adult men: 90 milligrams/day
  • Adult women: 75 milligrams/day

Good sources of this nutrient in food are:

  • Cooked sweet red pepper, 1/2 cup: 116 milligrams
  • Orange: 70 milligrams
  • Strawberries (1/2 cup): 49 milligrams
  • Cantaloupe (1/4 medium): 47 milligrams
  • Cooked broccoli (1/2 cup): 51 milligrams

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