Look at any standard nutrition label and you’ll see the daily percentage of vitamins and minerals a food provides.
Typically, it’s pretty easy to consume 100% of the essential vitamins and minerals these labels outline.
Meaning, you’ve achieved the daily recommended amount.
But, there’s a big problem with these common recommendations and it’s contributing to a nutrient deficiency crisis in America.
You see, the daily value numbers on all nutrition labels is based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
In other words these labels provide just one number for everyone — regardless of age, gender, location or pregnancy.
The truth it the nutritional needs for a 4-year-old child, a 25-year-old man at the peak of his vitality, and a 55-year-old woman going through menopause are going to be very different.
Combine this with the standard American diet (SAD) — filled with processed foods, high amounts of sugar and dangerous toxins — and our country isn’t getting enough of the vitamins and minerals we need to live a healthy and vibrant life.
Here are some of the major nutrients Americans aren’t getting enough of and the danger these deficiencies can cause.
It is estimated that up to 85% of Americans have insufficient levels of vitamin D.
Virtually every tissue type in your body has receptors for vitamin D.
Vitamin D deficiency is associated with increased risk of numerous chronic disorders. These include Type II diabetes, cancer, infections and cardiovascular, autoimmune and neurological diseases
The best way to get adequate amounts of vitamin D is by spending time in the sunlight, where your skin naturally converts the sun’s rays into vitamin D in the body.
But in our hectic society, most of us don’t spend enough time in the sun on a daily basis — especially those who live in parts of the country with colder climates during parts of the year.
Vitamin D levels can be increased through diet, but not nearly enough to accommodate insufficient sunlight exposure.
Plant-based vitamin D is actually a form a vitamin D called D2 … and it isn’t metabolized by the body very well.
Animal-based vitamin D is known as vitamin D3 and is a more-beneficial form. But like I said, dietary vitamin D is rarely able to raise levels in the body enough to achieve optimal levels.
Vitamin D3 supplements are next-best option.
They have become one of the few supplements agreed upon by doctors that the average American should consider taking.
Even more deficient than vitamin D, potassium is estimated to only be consumed in optimal amounts by just 4.7% of Americans.
Potassium’s primary functions in the body include building muscle, synthesizing proteins, controlling the electrical activity of the heart and maintaining acid-base balance.
Potassium is needed for maintenance of body fluid volume, keeping electrolytes in balance and ensuring normal cell function.
Low potassium generally causes a sense of weakness and malaise. Someone deficient in potassium will experience tiredness, muscle cramps and overall whole-body weakness.
Palpitations and an irregular heartbeat can occur, but extremely low levels of potassium can result in more serious electrical-conduction problems in the heart.
Eating foods high in potassium is the most-effective way to make sure you’re getting enough of this vital nutrient.
Foods highest in potassium include …
• Swiss chard (1 cup = 1g of potassium)
• Winter squash (1 cup = 1g)
• Avocado (1/2 Florida variety = 0.8g)
• Dried apricots (1/2 cup = 0.9)
• Baked potato (1 large = 0.9g)
Other foods rich in potassium include bananas, oranges, carrots, avocados, kiwi, dried figs, tomatoes, spinach, seaweed and beans.
The mineral magnesium is abundant in healthy bodies. It’s stored in our organs and bones, and used in over 300 enzymatic processes.
Enzymes are proteins that speed up processes and reactions in our bodies. Without them, these actions may not get completed.
This includes your body turning food into energy. It’s also vital for proper transcription of DNA and RNA.
Yet, dietary intake of magnesium has gone down dramatically over the past 100 years. It is estimated that 68% to 80% of Americans are magnesium deficient.
Although it’s considered an “invisible deficiency,” low magnesium levels can manifest in a variety of ways like heart palpitations, headaches, muscle cramps, nausea and migraines.
These may be indicative of bigger health issues like heart disease, diabetes, asthma and anxiety disorders.
Foods high in magnesium include dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds, fish, beans, avocados, yogurt, bananas, dried fruit, dark chocolate and more.
In addition to these three vitamins and minerals, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that eight out of 10 Americans are deficient in vitamin E … seven out of 10 are deficient in calcium … and 50% of Americans are deficient in vitamins A and C.
As obesity rates and healthcare costs reach new highs every year, it’s vital we solve this nutrient deficiency crisis in America.
You can see the challenge in the current one-size-fits-most nutritional labeling approach.
But learning your own unique nutritional needs is the first step to meeting them.
Fortunately, there are many delicious ways available to start doing just that.