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The 5 Nutrients You Need for Energy

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These five key nutrients beat fatigue, improve your workout, and fight disease.

Unless you've been living in a cave for 20 years, you know you need calcium, folate, and vitamin C. But there are a few nutrients you're not so savvy about, according to recent stats, especially if you're dieting. Here, which ones you're most likely lacking, and what to do about it.

Fact: Twenty-Eight Percent of You Don't Get Enough E

Why You Need 15 mg a Day: It protects against heart disease and boosts immunity.
Why You're Missing Out: Your diet is too low in fat. Vitamin E is usually found in naturally fat-rich plant foods like oils, nuts, and seeds.
How to Get It: Stock up on a well-fortified cereal like Total cereal; a cup supplies 15 mg.

Fact: Twelve Percent of You Are Iron-Deficient

Why You Need 18 mg a Day: It helps deliver oxygen throughout your body.
Why You're Missing Out: You started eating more "meatless meals." "Only heme iron -- found in animal foods like beef, lamb, or poultry -- is directly absorbed into the body," says Stella Lucia Volpe, PhD, RD, an associate professor of nutrition at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing. "Vegetable iron isn't absorbed as efficiently."
How to Get It: Try to include a few servings of lean animal protein per day. The redder a meat, the more heme iron it probably contains; beef is a better source than chicken or pork. Also, 10 steamed clams supply an incredible 26.6 mg of iron for only 141 calories.

Fact: Most of You Consume Less Than Half the RDA of Potassium

Why You Need 4,700 mg a Day: It aids in muscle contraction and regulates fluid and mineral balance when you sweat.
Why You're Missing Out: You're still not eating enough fruits and vegetables.
How to Get It: Top potassium picks include a baked potato (926 mg), white beans (502 mg per half cup), and tomato sauce (453 mg per half cup).

Fact: Less Than Half of You Are Getting Enough Zinc

Why You Need 8 mg a Day: It helps regulate metabolism.
Why You're Missing Out: You haven't bought wheat germ since the '70s (a half cup provides all you need).
How to Get It: Use your bean! A 239-calorie cup of vegetarian baked beans supplies nearly half a day's supply (4.2 mg).

Fact: Most of You Get Only 72 Percent of the Magnesium You Need Each Day

Why You Need 320 mg a Day: It's essential for energy production and muscle function.
Why You're Missing Out: You don't eat enough seafood.
How to Get It: Go fishing! Just three ounces of halibut supplies 91 mg. No seafood lover in you? Choose a half cup of All-Bran cereal (110 mg), cooked spinach (78 mg), or black beans (60 mg).


Originally published in Fitness magazine, March 2006.


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