Are You Nutritionally Fit?

A recent survey of nearly 700 people showed that 72 percent believe they are healthy eaters, yet government data proves otherwise.

Data recently revealed shows that we get plenty of protein and carbohydrates, but often fall short on key nutrients such as magnesium, potassium and vitamins C and E.

“Fifty years ago, we only recognised extreme cases of vitamin deficiencies, like scurvy, which is caused by a lack of vitamin C,” said Carroll Reider, MS, RD, Nature Made vitamins director of scientific affairs and education. “Science has advanced. We now know that even small amounts of vitamin deficiencies hurt us much more than people realise.”

While most people appear well fed, a key question is: Are you nutritionally fit? To assess your nutritional condition, Reider posed the following questions:

Do you shun the sun? People who wear sunscreen, live in northern climates or have darker skin may not receive optimal levels of vitamin D, which is made following exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium and may also promote ovarian, breast, prostate, heart and colon health. Reider suggests 1,000 IU of vitamin D daily for people who spend most of their time indoors and those who don’t synthesise vitamin D easily, such as darker- skinned individuals and the elderly. Vitamin D food sources include milk and fatty types of fish; however, it is hard to achieve optimal intake through food alone. It is also available in supplement form.

Do your meals lack colour? Does dinner typically consist of meat, starch and the same green vegetable? For optimal health, add more colours to your diet. Vegetables such as steamed carrots, peppers and red cabbage add vibrant hues to the dinner plate while citrus wedges brighten the standard bed of greens. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables maximises nutrient intake and provides antioxidants, which help fight free radicals that may cause premature ageing. “A multivitamin formulated for your age and gender is also a good way to compensate for dietary imbalances,” Reider said.

Is fish a regular dish? The Heart Association recommends two servings of fish per week. Reider suggests salmon and tuna, which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Some studies suggest omega-3 fatty acids may promote heart health. Other sources include walnuts, flaxseed or vitamins.

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