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5 Nutrients Vital to Weight Loss

Aug 31, 2009

The nutrients you eat can play a vital role in weight loss. Losing weight isn't just about cutting calories, as a low-calorie diet can do more harm than good if you aren't getting the right nutrients. A balanced diet includes protein, fat, carbohydrates and minerals, and you also need to drink plenty of water. Here are the nutrients that can help you lose weight.

1. Iron

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common mineral deficiency in the world, and the only one prevalent in developed countries. If you are chronically fatigued, chances are you suffer from iron deficiency anemia.

Iron helps your red blood cells carry oxygen. Without enough iron, your body's cells can't get the oxygen they need to function properly. You'll feel tired, run down and exhausted all the time. It will be difficult to summon the energy to exercise, and since exercise is a key component of weight loss, iron is one of the most important minerals you can eat to lose weight.

Make sure you get enough iron by eating foods like:

  • beef
  • turkey
  • spinach
  • lentils
  • mussels
  • clams

Vitamin C helps with iron absorption, so drink plenty of orange juice. Top these off with an iron supplement.

2. Fiber

Fiber helps keep you feeling full longer after a meal, which can reduce your tempation to snack and make dieting easier. Increase your fiber intake by eating plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, legumes and whole grains. Eat an enriched breakfast cereal; not only will this give you plenty of dietary fiber, but it will reduce your likelihood of overeating later in the day.

Gradually increase your fiber intake to the recommended 25g per day. Drink plenty of water to avoid feeling bloated and gassy.

3. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids aren't quite the same as the fats listed on the food pyramid. Bad fats, such as trans fats and saturated fats, can inhibit weight loss. But good fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids found in eggs and fish, can help you lose weight because they increase your energy levels and keep you feeling full longer. They are also essential to heart health and brain function.

Eat salmon or sardines to add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet. Nuts and grains, such as flaxseed, contain plenty of omega-3 fatty acids. You can also take a fish oil supplement.

4. Calcium

Adults require 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day. Calcium helps bones maintain their proper strength and density. It prevents osteoporosis and helps regulate blood pressure. Studies suggest that getting the recommended daily amount of calcium can also help you lose weight. Low fat dairy products can give you calcium to help you lose weight and protein to help increase muscle mass.

5. Vitamin D

Vitamin D is essential to calcium absorption, but many adults don't get enough of it. Your skin can make its own vitamin D by absorbing ultraviolet sunlight, however, if you wear sunblock, there's a good chance your skin isn't getting enough UV rays to produce vitamin D. Cod liver and fish oil are rich in vitamin D, and milk and other dairy products are fortified with the mineral.

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