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Ask the Nutritionist: Common Deficiencies, Quality Snacks and a 7-Day Challenge


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What Are the Most Common Nutrient Deficiencies?

Though more prevalent in developing countries, nutrient deficiencies do exist in America. Limited and/or imbalanced food diversity and restricted food groups are frequent reasons for missing nutrients. Here are the most common deficiencies in the U.S.* 

1. Iron

Menstruating women, vegetarians, vegans and young children are most at risk for deficiency. Symptoms include weakened immunity and chronic fatigue. Good sources include beef, oysters, beans and spinach. 

2. Vitamin D

More than 40 percent of people in the U.S. may be deficient in the nutrient vitamin D. Symptoms include depression, frequent illness, back pain and fatigue. Dose up on D with salmon, tuna, fortified milk and eggs. 

3. Calcium

Studies show that less than 10 percent of U.S. women older than 50 get enough calcium, and symptoms of deficiency include muscle spasms and numbness in the hands and feet; chronic deficiency could lead to osteoporosis. Cull calcium from almonds, beans and dairy. 

4. Vitamin B12

Vegetarians and vegans typically lack this B vitamin, and symptoms of deficiency include weakness, lightheadedness and shortness of breath. Boost your B12 with meat, poultry, fish and nondairy milks. 

5. Magnesium

Nearly half of Americans are deficient in magnesium. Symptoms include headaches, fatigue, restless leg syndrome, cramps and abnormal heart rhythm. Maximize your magnesium nutrient with spinach, avocado, nuts and whole grains.

*Based on total U.S. population of men, women and children. 

5 Nutrient-Packed Foods for Between-Meal Snacks

Snacking properly between meals can help you overcome cravings. Try these five snack-gestions to stay on the fitness straight and narrow.

Photo: Shutterstock

1. Hard-Boiled Eggs 

The protein/fat combo in eggs helps increase feelings of fullness, working to reduce appetite. 

Hummus
Photo: GettyImages

2. Hummus

This bean dip slows gastric emptying and balances blood sugar, thanks to its high-fiber content. 

bell pepper
Photo: Shutterstock

3. Bell Peppers

Veggies with a high water content stretch the stomach, triggering the release of leptin, the “fullness” hormone. 

Ginger
Photo: Shutterstock

4. Ginger Chews

Zingerone and shogaols, two compounds found in ginger, are associated with a reduction in hunger. 

Dark chocolate
Photo: GettyImages

5. Dark Chocolate 

The bitterness of dark chocolate is reputed to diminish your cravings for sweets. 

7-Day Challenge: Hydrate Properly Before Your Workouts 

You probably remember to hydrate during and after a workout, but what about before? Preworkout hydration can give you an athletic edge by helping fast-track the metabolism of energy-providing nutrients. It also helps regulate body temperature, wards off early muscle fatigue and prevents injury by keeping joints lubricated. The American Council on Exercise recommends drinking 17 to 20 ounces (roughly 2 to 21⁄2 cups) of water two to three hours before exercise and another 8 ounces 30 minutes before you start. 

Spotlight on this Nutrient: Allulose

Allulose
Photo: GettyImages

Allulose is a naturally occurring sugar found in foods such as wheat, figs and raisins. Chemically, it has the same structure as fructose. However, unlike fructose, the body does not process allulose for energy, and most of it leaves the body without having a caloric effect or raising blood sugar.

Because of this, allulose has been classified as a zero- calorie natural sweetener, which is generally recognized as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Because it provides sweetness without calories or carbs, manufacturers use allulose as a sugar alternative in products such as carbonated beverages, salad dressings, yogurts, packaged snacks, chewing gum and more. Recent studies have not shown major side effects, though individual sensitivities are always possible. And even though it is found in wheat, allulose is gluten-free.

Photo: Shutterstock

THE PERCENTAGE OF DAILY EATING OCCASIONS (e.g., all meals and snacks) that include a vegetable, according to the NDP Group, a market research firm that tracks food intake. A separate survey from the National Center for Health Statistics revealed that 95 percent of Americans report eating some vegetables every day but that nearly all of those surveyed failed to meet the government nutrient recommendation of 2 to 3 cups per day. 



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