The 4 Crucial Nutrients Missing in Many American Diets

by Ella

While a significant portion of U.S. adults prioritize healthy eating, studies reveal that the standard American diet lacks several essential nutrients. The Dietary Guidelines for Americans, the federal guide outlining optimal nutrition for health and disease prevention, highlights four nutrients consumed at levels deemed a “public health concern.” Insufficient intake of these nutrients is associated with chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular issues.

Registered Dietitian Lauren Twigge explains that individual nutrient requirements depend on factors such as calorie needs, age, and gender. Below are the guidelines to assess whether your diet meets these crucial standards.


1. Dietary Fiber:

Fiber plays a pivotal role in digestive and metabolic health. It aids in cholesterol reduction and blood sugar stabilization. Women should target 25 grams daily, while men aim for 38 grams. Alternatively, strive for 14 grams of fiber per 1,000 calories consumed. Top sources include beans, berries, pears, chia seeds, quinoa, whole grains, and vegetables.


2. Calcium:

Essential for bone health and electrolyte balance, calcium recommendations are 1,000 milligrams daily for both women and men. Sources include dairy products, canned salmon, sardines, and dark leafy greens like spinach and kale.


3. Potassium:

As an electrolyte regulating hydration and supporting nerve and muscle function, potassium contributes to heart health by managing blood pressure. Women need 2,600 milligrams daily, while men require 3,400 milligrams. Potassium-rich foods include fruits, vegetables, lentils, kidney beans, milk, yogurt, chicken, and salmon.


4. Vitamin D:

Crucial for bone health, immune function, inflammation regulation, and glucose metabolism, vitamin D is recommended at 600 IU daily for both genders. While few foods naturally contain it, sources include egg yolks, mushrooms, and fortified dairy products.

Registered Dietitian Lauren Twigge suggests making gradual dietary changes for lasting impact. Prioritize nutrient-dense foods and beverages that efficiently fulfill these nutritional recommendations. Here are four examples of foods and beverages packing at least three of the four crucial nutrients in a single serving:

Dark Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, or collards offer fiber, potassium, and calcium. Incorporate them into an egg scramble for a nutrient-packed meal.

Dried Fruits: Apricots and prunes provide fiber, calcium, and potassium. Pair them with nuts for a wholesome, on-the-go snack.

Dairy Products: Milk and yogurt offer potassium, calcium, and vitamin D. Adding fiber-rich cereals or granola creates a meal encompassing all four vital nutrients.

Fatty Fish: Canned sardines or salmon provide calcium, vitamin D, and potassium. Pair them with whole-grain crackers for a complete nutrient package.



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