Are You Suffering From a Common Nutritional Deficiency?

It seems shocking, a country that has access to so much fresh food, yet a large portion of the population is still suffering from nutritional deficiencies. The connection between poor nutrition and disease cannot be ignored. We’re eating fat too many processed foods and not enough whole foods that are nutrient-rich.

There will always be various risk factors that we can’t control, such as our family history, but we do control what we put into our bodies. When we give the human body what it needs, it’s able to function at an optimal level. Meaning, it’s able to do what it is supposed to do – protect you.

Of the following nutrients, are you getting enough?

Calcium

Calcium is essential in order to support bone density, preventing conditions such as osteoporosis. Although we think of our bones first, calcium also supports muscle contractions, including the lining of our digestive tract and blood vessels. It also plays a role in hormonal regulation and nerve transmission.

As a women or an adult over the age of 70, you should be consuming 1,200 mg daily. It’s recommended that males consume a daily intake of 1,000 mg. You’re not limited to milk and cheese either, as calcium is found in canned fish with bones, leafy greens, various seeds and nuts, broccoli, and tahini.

Vitamin D

This vitamin is unique, in that it’s the only vitamin in which our bodies naturally produce photochemically based on sun exposure. This vitamin also doubles as a hormone, aiding in phosphorus and calcium absorption, cell communication, and fighting off infections. It also supports healthy lung, heart, bone, and brain health.

Baby boomers need to focus on both calcium and vitamin D as osteoporosis begins to threaten your bone health after the age of 55. Since vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium, they work together to reduce your risk. Although osteoporosis mainly affects women, 20 percent of sufferers are male, so everyone needs to be aware.

In children nine years or older and adults up to the age of 70, it’s recommended that this population receives 600 IU per day. To put this into more practical terms, being outside for as little as 15 minutes can significantly impact your vitamin D levels. You can also source vitamin D within fish oil, salmon, egg yolks, and fortified foods.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is essential for a strong immune system, fertility, and positive eye health. Shockingly, more than 40 percent of Canadians over the age of 19 are not getting enough of this vitamin on a daily basis. Since vitamin A is a key component of the protein that helps us recognize differences between light and dark, a deficiency significantly increases your risk of age-related macular degeneration.
Baby boomers should also focus on vitamins C and E, in combination with vitamin A. These vitamins double as antioxidants, each serving their own unique purpose. By combatting free-radicals, you reduce your risk of cancer and inflammation.

As a healthy adult, you should be consuming 900 mcg daily as a man and 700 mcg daily as a female. Some of the best sources include sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe, beef liver, and other fruits and vegetables that offer a bright enjoy coloration.

Magnesium

Magnesium is so important, yet approximately 34 percent of Canadians aren’t getting enough. The reason that this is such a concern is magnesium is found within over 300 different enzymes throughout the human body. It’s responsible for the creation of ATP, bone and teeth formation, the relaxation of blood vessels, positive bowel functioning, the regulation of blood sugar levels, and more. When you’re deficient, you increase your risk of both heart attacks and stroke.

Growing research shows that magnesium may help prevent or reverse various cognitive deficits. When studied in mice, elevated levels of magnesium were linked to a reversal of deficits within Alzheimer’s disease. Baby boomers, in order to support brain health, consume enough magnesium and essential fatty acids, found in fish, flaxseeds, walnuts, and avocados.

Each day, you should be consuming 250 mg as a woman and 300 mg as a man. It’s all about knowing where to source it and making a conscious effort to meet your needs. One-quarter cup of pumpkin seeds, for instance, offers you nearly 100 percent of your daily recommended intake. Other sources include whole grains, beans, nuts, sesame seeds, spinach, and quinoa.

Fibre

The average Canadian is not consuming enough fibre, as the daily recommended amount is 25 to 38 grams. Considering fibre plays a key role in weight management, balanced blood sugar and cholesterol levels, positive digestive health, and a reduced risk of colon cancer, we need to be more aware of what we’re eating and what we’re not eating (but should be).

Some of the top sources include beans, flaxseed, potatoes with skin, whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and more. Start by replacing all white rice, pasta, and bread with whole grain options. For breakfast, ditch high-sugar cereals and focus on foods like steel-cut oatmeal with fresh berries. Also, start substituting meat at least once weekly for a beans. Black bean burgers are delicious and high in fibre, here’s a great recipe.

At the end of the day, as long as you’re eating a balanced whole food diet, your body is going to obtain the nutrients it needs. Pay attention to your personal needs, ensuring that you get enough. If you’re vegan, for example, source high protein foods like quinoa in order to maintain balance and support optimal health. For more information, visit Dietitians of Canada.

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