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The 5 Nutrients You Need for Energy

  • Chris Gallo

    Vitamin E

    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 vitamin E.

    Why You Need 15 milligrams 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 15mg.

  • Blaine Moats


    Fact: Twelve percent of you are iron-deficient.

    Why You Need 18mg 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 26.6mg of iron for only 141 calories.

    Try these healthy recipes:

    Vegetable Beef Barley Soup
    Portobello-Smothered Beef Medallions
    Chipotle Beef Wrap

  • Joseph De Leo


    Fact: Most of you consume less than half the RDA of potassium.

    Why You Need 4,700mg 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 (926mg), white beans (502mg per half cup), and tomato sauce (453mg per half cup).

    Try these healthy recipes:

    Twice-Baked Potato with Melted Cheese and Broccoli
    Chunky White Bean Soup
    Parmesan Pasta with Asparagus & White Beans

  • Zinc

    Fact: Less than half of you are getting enough zinc.

    Why You Need 8mg 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 (4.2mg).

  • Magnesium

    Fact: Most of you get only 72 percent of the magnesium you need each day.

    Why You Need 320mg 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 91mg. No seafood lover in you? Choose a half cup of All-Bran cereal (110mg), cooked spinach (78mg), or black beans (60mg).

    Try these healthy recipes:

    Originally published in FITNESS magazine, March 2006.

    Black Bean Couscous
    Spinach Salad with Strawberries
    Tofu with Black Beans & Garlic