(BPT) - Most American's aren't 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,' says 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 don't consume at least two servings a week of fatty fish (think 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 recent study from the University of Oxford found that supplementation of 600 milligrams of omega-3s, and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in particular, was associated with longer sleep duration - 58 minutes of more sleep per night - in a subset of children, compared to placebo.
Omega-3s are important for women who are pregnant or nursing. DHA is a building block of a baby's brain. In fact, 97 percent of the omega-3s found in the brain is DHA. A vegetarian and sustainable source of DHA from algae can be found in supplement form. Look for the life'sDHA logo on the packaging to know you're getting a vegetarian source.
4. Vitamin D. If you are an adult and your multi-vitamin or calcium supplement does not have at least 1000 IU of vitamin D, then consider a separate supplement since you can't get enough from food. Optimal intake is associated with lowered risk for muscle weakness, gum disease, diabetes, insulin resistance, arthritis, multiple sclerosis, hypertension, and certain cancers, including colon, breast, pancreas and prostate cancers.
5. Vitamin E. Vitamin E functions as the main fat-soluble antioxidant, protecting cells, tissues and organs from damage. It also contributes to healthy blood flow by regulating the opening of blood vessels and preventing cholesterol from building up on blood vessel walls. The research continues to show other roles for this essential nutrient, such as a recent study that showed vitamin E may positively impact functional performance among participants with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease.
Before incorporating any supplement into your diet, check with your health care provider. For more information about vitamins and nutrients visit www.vitaminsinmotion.com.