7 Nutrients You Should Be Eating
For much of the past decade, the measure of a healthy diet was whether it had the right amounts of specific, high-value nutrients. Think about the push to get protein with every meal and to keep an eye on your iron intake. That focus did two things: It emphasized lab-made supplements such as protein powder and green pills, while de-emphasizing the need for whole foods. And, in doing so, it also overlooked smaller nutrients that don't appear on nutrition labels, but that are still essential to optimal health.
There's been a move among some health experts to stop agonizing over grams of iron and protein, a mindset known as 'nutritionism,' and instead recommend a diet filled with a variety of whole foods, especially plants, explains Drew Ramsey, MD, a New York-based psychiatrist, farmer and author of Eat Complete. This mindset shift helps ensure that you're getting all of the under-appreciated nutrients you may be inadvertently ignoring. Click here to learn a few of the less headline-grabbing nutrients and ways to incorporate them into your next meal.
<p>All of the B vitamins are important, but B12 and B9 (folate) tend to get more attention than B1, which is <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1375232/" target="_blank">central to energy production within cells</a>, Ramsey explains. “The brain mainly runs on glucose (blood sugar), and turning glucose into energy requires thiamine,” so if you’re not getting enough, you may suffer from low energy levels and brain fog. Pork, sunflower seeds, trout, peas, and pecans are all great <a href="https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Thiamin-HealthProfessional/#h3" target="_blank">sources</a>, but there are a few factors to keep in mind: Alcohol can inhibit absorption, and regular exercise and pregnancy increase the amount you need. “It’s one of these vitamins that you don’t store much of so you need a continuous supply in your diet,” Ramsey adds.</p>
<p>Known for being a Thanksgiving sleep-aid, it’s actually an essential amino acid and a building block of the neurotransmitter serotonin. If you’re not getting enough, your brain will make less serotonin, <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3638380/" target="_blank">which can affect your mood, memory, and increase aggression</a>, Ramsey says. It’s the most difficult to find in food among all of the amino acids, but you can get it in turkey, cod, beef, and some plant sources like soybeans and asparagus.</p>
Photography by Christine Han