Most Americans are not consuming enough nutrients from their daily diet.
Only 1 percent of the population meets minimum standards of a balanced diet, according to a paper published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. A well-chosen supplement can benefit many people, especially those who are dieting, older than age 50, pregnant or following an exercise regimen.
“Many Americans are marginally deficient in one or more vitamins,” said Elizabeth Somer, a registered dietitian and the author of “Eat Your Way to Happiness.” “That means they consume enough to prevent the classic deficiency, but not enough to be optimally nourished. Osteoporosis is a good example. Only getting marginal levels of vitamin D over time can lead to a loss of calcium in your bones until they no longer can support your weight. Yet there are no telltale signs of a problem.”
According to Somer, these five supplements should be on everyone’s shopping list:
1. Multiple vitamin. Nutrients are supplied as teams in food, so if your diet is low in one nutrient, it’s a sure bet it’s low in others, too. A multiple is a convenient, inexpensive way to supply a balance of nutrients, while avoiding secondary deficiencies that result when you take too much of one nutrient and crowd out another. For quality sake, stick with the major brands or with a product with the USP (U. S. Pharmacopeia) quality seal that guarantees high standards.
2. Calcium and magnesium. You need calcium to keep your bones, skin, nerves and muscles in shape, while magnesium is critical for coping with stress, maintaining a healthy heartbeat and blood pressure. Unless you include at least three servings daily of calcium-rich milk products or fortified soymilk, and lots of magnesium-rich soybeans, nuts and wheat germ, you should supplement these two minerals.
Calcium and magnesium are best absorbed and used when supplied in a 2:1 ratio of calcium to magnesium. You get some of these minerals in your diet, so you only need to fill in the gaps by taking a supplement with 500 milligrams of calcium and 250 milligrams of magnesium, if your multiple is low in these minerals.
3. DHA omega-3. If you do not consume at least two servings a week of fatty fish (salmon, mackerel or herring), then take an omega-3 supplement. You need at least 220 milligrams of the omega-3 DHA, and possibly up to 900 milligrams a day to help support brain health. A re-
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