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Essential Nutrients Most People Don't Get Enough Of

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Even when you are following a healthy diet, you may not be getting all of the essential nutrients that your body needs to function at its best. Here are some of the most common nutrient deficiencies.

1. Calcium

As we learned in elementary school, calcium is necessary to build strong teeth and bones. If the body does not have the calcium it needs, bones cannot be formed correctly. This isn't just a problem for kids. It can affect adults, too. Even after you are fully grown, the body uses calcium to keep bones strong. Weak bone structure leads to osteoporosis, which can cause bones to fracture more easily. There is no known cure for the disease, but it is preventable by consuming adequate amounts of calcium. Calcium is also necessary for cardiovascular health. It helps the heart muscle to contract correctly, and it helps reduce bad cholesterol levels. If you suspect that you are not getting the calcium you need, dairy products are a great source. You can also eat leafy green vegetables and certain kinds of fruit. If your calcium intake is still inadequate, try a calcium supplement.

2. Iron

Iron is necessary for the growth of red blood cells, muscles and bones. It helps transport oxygen throughout the body and is used for metabolic reactions. An iron deficiency, or anemia, often begins with feeling tired and weak. It may also seem difficult to maintain your body temperature, and you may have an unusual number of headaches. The best source of iron is lean red meat or other animal products. Vegetarians do not have to rely on supplements alone. Iron can also be found in whole-grain cereals and breads, leafy green vegetables, beans and nuts.

4. Magnesium

Often overlooked, magnesium is just as important and necessary as the more well-known nutrients. Magnesium plays a big part in the body's processes, especially when it comes to biochemical reactions, such as producing energy. It helps with the functions of nerves and muscles, and it is essential for cardiovascular health. Magnesium is also needed to balance the effect of calcium on the body. If there is a magnesium deficiency, calcium will build up and harden, which can lead to arthritis and hardened arteries. Magnesium can be found in green leafy vegetables, seafood, nuts, legumes, dairy products, whole-grains and some fruits.

5. Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is a water-soluble vitamin that is used throughout the body. It is necessary to create hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to tissues. Vitamin B6 also helps the body fight off infections and maintain blood glucose levels. It can be found in green leafy vegetables, potatoes with skins, bananas, chicken, seafood and whole grains. You can also find cereals that are fortified with vitamin B6.

6. Vitamin A

Vitamin A is used by the body for cell division and bone growth. It helps to keep the immune system fighting, and it has properties to help protect the body from free radicals. Vitamin A is also essential for healthy vision. Good food sources include eggs, milk, yellow and orange fruits and vegetables and liver.

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