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WebMD Feature

4 Vitamins and Minerals for Adults

Are you getting enough of the nutrients you need? You might be surprised. Many adults don't.

Four nutrients were singled out as "of concern" in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans because a lot of people aren't getting enough of them.

Are you one of them? Find out what you may be missing out on, how much you need, and how to get it.

1. Potassium

You may not hear as much about potassium as you do other nutrients, like calcium and vitamin C. But potassium is essential to managing blood pressure.

Sodium raises your blood pressure. Potassium lowers it.

"It also may improve problems with kidney stones and bone loss," says Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD. She's a spokeswoman for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

How much you need: For most adults, the recommended daily amount is 4,700 milligrams (mg).

How to get it: The single best food source of potassium is the potato.

"A small potato has about 740 mg of potassium," Giancoli says.

Other good potassium sources include juices such as:

  • Prune
  • Carrot
  • Orange
  • Tomato

Also try eating beans, especially these types:

  • White
  • Lima
  • Soy

You can also get potassium in some fish, such as:

  • Halibut
  • Tuna
  • Cod

Potassium is also found in dairy products such as milk and yogurt.

2. Vitamin D

We cover up with hats, slather on sunscreen, and stay indoors to help prevent skin cancer. One unintended side effect of all this sun protection is that some people -- about 20% of the population, it's estimated -- are low in the "sunshine vitamin," vitamin D. Vitamin D works with calcium to build bone strength.

How much you need: Most adults should get 600 IU of vitamin D per day. For adults over 70, the recommendation is 800 IU.

How to get it: Large doses of vitamin D aren't naturally found in too many foods, Giancoli says.

"You can find some in fatty fish like salmon, tuna, and sardines," she says. "It's also found in egg yolks. So if you eat only the egg whites, you may miss a good source of vitamin D."

Milk and orange juice, especially fortified varieties, are also good sources of vitamin D. Another surprising source: mushrooms that are grown in the sunlight.

"You can find packaged mushrooms now that advertise 100% of the daily value of vitamin D," Giancoli says.

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