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November 1, 2010

Got these nutrients? Probably Not

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

According to the proposed 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans  (DGA), adults and children are coming up short for several key nutrients. Here's what you may be missing, and how to get the vitamins and minerals you and your family need for good health.

Calcium

Calcium does more than just bolster bone strength and thickness. This mineral plays an important part in the functioning of nearly every cell. 

Your bones and teeth play host to about 99% of all the calcium in your body. The remaining 1% is found in the blood and tissues, where it perpetuates life by promoting normal muscle contraction, nerve transmission, and a regular heartbeat.

When your diet is low in calcium, your body "withdraws" the mineral from bones to keep blood and tissue calcium concentrations within a healthy range.  If your body takes more calcium from bones than is deposited from eating foods and taking calcium supplements for long periods of time, bones will become progressively weaker and more prone to breaking.

Daily calcium needs differ with age. One to three year-olds need 500 milligrams a day; four to eight year-olds, 800 milligrams; nine to 18 year-olds, 1,300 milligrams; 19 to 50 year-olds, 1,000 milligrams; and over 50 years, 1,200 milligrams. Calcium needs don't change with pregnancy or when you're nursing.

Calcium-containing foods

Food         Calcium (milligrams)

 

Food   Calcium (milligrams)
Yogurt, plain lowfat (1 cup)    415
Simply Smart Milk  (8 oz)350
Yogurt, fruit flavored (1 cup)345
Hood Milk (8 oz)300
Orange juice, fortified (8 oz)300
Cheddar cheese (1 oz)204
Tofu, firm, prepared with calicum sulfate and magnesium chloride (1/4 block)    163
Broccoli, cooked (1 cup)94

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is calcium's silent partner. This nutrient promotes calcium absorption from food and supplements, and directs the flow of calcium in and out of bones.

However, Vitamin D does much more than assist calcium, including possibly preventing certain types of cancers, helping to head off cardiovascular disease, and preventing disorders of the immune system, including Multiple Sclerosis.

Your body can make all the vitamin D it needs, as long as you expose your skin for to strong summer sunshine, which triggers vitamin D production. In reality, most of us do not make the vitamin D our body requires because we use sunscreens with an SPF of 8 or above, and because we live in the northern part of the country where our bodies are incapable of making vitamin D for about half the year

According to the 2010 DGA, a large number of people have insufficient levels of vitamin D in their blood, which are related to dietary vitamin D intake and sunshine exposure.  Having dark skin or being overweight increases the risk of vitamin D deficiency. 

The current suggested amount of daily vitamin D for adults under age 50 is 200 International Units (IU). If you're older than 50, you need 400 to 600 IU daily. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends 400 IU each day for children, starting in the first few days of life.  Vitamin D recommendations for all age groups are expected to rise when the Institute of Medicine releases new vitamin Dietary Reference Intakes for vitamin D by the end of 2010. 

Few foods are naturally rich in vitamin D. Fortified foods, such as milk, are reliable sources of the nutrient. It's wise to choose vitamin-D rich foods every day, but you, and your children, may need a supplement to fulfill suggested requirements. 


Vitamin D-rich foods

 

Food        Vitamin D (IU)
Salmon, cooked (3.5 oz)    360
Tuna, light canned, drained (3 oz)200
Hood Milk  (8 oz)100
Simply Smart Milk (8 oz)100
Orange juice, fortified (8 oz)100
Yogurt, fortified (6 to 8 oz)80-100
Cereal, ready-to-eat, fortified (3/4 to 1 cup)    40-60
Egg, 1 large20

 


Potassium

Potassium, a mineral, is part of every cell of your body, and it plays a key role in maintaining fluid balance, and keeping your brain, nerves, heart, and muscles functioning normally on a constant basis.

The 2010 DGA suggest 4,700 milligrams (mg) of dietary potassium a day as part of a balanced diet. Most Americans don't get the recommended amounts of potassium for good health and to help prevent certain chronic conditions, including high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, bone disease, and kidney stones.  

Certain medications, such as diuretics to lower blood pressure, affect potassium requirements. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about how all of the medications you take affect the potassium levels in your body.

When you think potassium, orange juice and bananas probably come to mind.  In reality, potassium is found in substantial amounts in fresh and lightly processed foods, including dairy products. (Fat-free dairy foods, such as Hood Milk, have the most potassium.)

Potassium-Packed Foods

 

Food        Potassium (mg)
Sweet potato, medium baked with skin     694
Potato, medium baked with skin610
White beans, canned and drained (1/2 cup)    595
Yogurt, fat free (1 cup)579
Simply Smart Chocolate Fat Free Milk (8 oz)490
Broccoli, cooked (1 cup)431
Banana, 1 medium422
Simply Smart Fat Free Milk (8 oz)410

 

Fiber

Your body's not capable of digesting fiber, yet fiber is an important part of the diet. Fiber helps to protect against cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and constipation. And fiber can help you with weight control because it tends to keep you fuller for longer.

Most adults average about 15 grams of fiber a day. The recommended amount of dietary fiber is tied to calorie needs: you should get 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories you eat to maintain your weight or for weight loss.  For example, you need 25 grams of fiber a day on a 2,000-calorie eating plan.  Children need five grams of fiber + their age; 7 year-olds require about 12 grams of fiber a day.

Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains; whole grains are richer in fiber than refined. To reach your daily fiber quota, include fiber-rich foods at every meal and snack. 

Fiber-Filled Foods

 

Food        Fiber (grams)
Navy beans, cooked (1/2 cup)    10
Breakfast cereal (1 cup)5-10
Lentils, cooked (1/2 cup)8
Garbanzo beans, cooked (1/2 cup)     6
Apple, medium with skin4
Strawberries (1 cup)4
Potato, 1 medium baked with skin4
Whole wheat bread (2 slices)4

 


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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