4 Vitamins and Minerals for Adults

Do you get enough of the right nutrients? Government guidelines picked out four that a lot of Americans may not pay enough attention to. Don't be part of that crowd. Find out what you're missing out on, how much you need, and how to get it.

1. Potassium

You may not hear as much about this nutrient as others, but it plays a key role in keeping your blood pressure low.

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

How much you need: For most adults, the recommended amount is 4,700 milligrams a day.

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

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

You can also get this nutrient in juices like:

  • Prune
  • Carrot
  • Orange
  • Tomato

Also, try to make beans part of your regular diet, especially these types:

  • White
  • Lima
  • Soy

Fish is another way to stock up on potassium. Add one of these to your menu:

  • Halibut
  • Tuna
  • Cod

Also put some dairy products in your shopping cart the next time you're in the supermarket. Milk and yogurt are two good choices.

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. It works with calcium to make your bones stronger.

How much you need: Most adults should get 600 IU of vitamin D each day. If you're over 70, aim for 800 IU, though some groups recommend even higher amounts, like 1,000-1,200 IU per day.

How to get it: There aren't many foods that can give you large amounts of this vitamin, 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 are good ways to get the nutrient, especially if the manufacturer has added some in. Look for "fortified with vitamin D" on the label.

Another surprising source: mushrooms that are grown in sunlight. "You can find packaged mushrooms now that advertise 100% of the daily value of vitamin D," Giancoli says.

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3. Calcium

All adults need it. If you don't get enough, you run the risk of osteoporosis, a disease that weakens your bones. Calcium is also important for your nerves and muscles.

How much you need: You need to get 1,000 milligrams a day if you're age 19 to 50. Women over 50 -- and all adults over 70 -- need 1,200 milligrams a day.

How to get it: Dairy foods like milk and yogurt are good sources. Soy and almond milk, as well as orange juice, are sometimes fortified with calcium, so check the label.

You can also take in some calcium if you eat salmon, kale, turnip greens, and some kinds of tofu.

4. Fiber

It helps your digestive system and may lower your risk of heart disease and diabetes. But the average American doesn't get enough in his diet.

How much you need: Every day women should get 25 grams of fiber and men should get 38 grams.

How to get it: Beans! Legumes are some of the best sources of dietary fiber. Some beans you can try:

  • Navy
  • White
  • Lima
  • Pinto
  • Black

Most vegetables and fruits are also good ways to get fiber. So are whole-grain breads and pastas, and oatmeal.

WebMD Feature Reviewed by David Kiefer, MD on January 11, 2016

Sources

SOURCES:

U.S. Department of Agriculture/U.S. Department of Health and Human Services"Dietary Guidelines for Americans."

Andrea Giancoli, MPH, RD, spokeswoman, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements: "Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium."

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