Healthy eating is central to healthy living. To help you start off the year in the healthiest way, here’s a list of 10 nutrients you should be getting and the foods that provide them. If you are not eating a balanced diet and are stressed or ill then your body could be lacking one or more of these and a good herbal organic supplement will help. Please book a Free Lifestyle Analysis with me if you feel you need advice. 1. Calcium 2. Omega 3 Fats 3. Fibre 4. Iron 5. Vitamin A 6. Vitamin C 7. Vitamin D 8. Magnesium 9. Protein 10. Water 1. Calcium Calcium isn’t just important for growing kids – it’s essential for maintaining healthy bones and teeth throughout your life. And that’s not all your body uses it for as calcium also plays a role in healthy muscle function and blood clotting. How much should you get? Research shows that our calcium requirements are actually greater as we age. Adults should aim to get at least three portions (approximately 800 to 1200mg) of dairy per day.* Sources: Milk, cheese, yoghurt, soya beans, salmon, tofu. 2. Omega 3 fats Fat has a bad reputation yet ‘good’ varieties are a necessary part of any balanced diet. Omega 3 fatty acids, for instance, provide a host of benefits, such as helping to lower blood pressure, prevent blood clots, promote brain and heart health and keep joints mobile. How much should you get? As a general guideline amount, adults should aim for around 500mg per day. Note that this amount will change depending on age, health requirements or if pregnant. Sources: Walnuts, tofu, flaxseeds, avocados, fatty fish (e.g. mackerel, tuna, salmon, sardines, trout). 3. Fibre All the foods we eat need to be digested, which makes a healthy digestive system crucial. Fibre promotes just this, regulating bowel movement and helping to prevent intestinal troubles. In addition, it’s also been shown help lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, weight gain, and some cancers. How much should you get? According to the NHS, most people in the UK should aim for at least 18g of fibre a day yet get just 14g. Sources: Wholemeal bread, beans, kale, chickpeas, spinach, bananas, avocados. 4. Iron Iron is an essential mineral that helps transport oxygen around the body. A lack of iron in the diet may lead to mental and physical fatigue as well as a weakened immune system. How much should you get? Women need more iron in their diets than men and should therefore aim to get around 18mg a day (27mg during pregnancy). For men, the required amount is around 8mg per day. Sources: Beef, chicken, liver, spinach, pumpkin, broccoli, kidney beans, almonds. 5. Vitamin A Vitamin A is essential for healthy vision, tissue growth, and proper immune function. It comes in two forms; namely, retinol (which is ready for the body to use immediately) and carotenoids (which the body must convert before use). How much should you get? Women should aim to get 700mg per day; while men should try get 900mg each day. Sources: Sweet potato, carrots, kale, spinach, red pepper, broccoli. 6. Vitamin C Many of us only try to get some vitamin C when we’re already ill, but prevention is always better than cure – vitamin C is essential for keeping your immune system healthy. It’s also a potent antioxidant that can help protect your cells from the harmful effects of a build-up of free radicals. How much should you get? Adults should aim to get between 75 and 90mg of vitamin C per day. Sources: Red pepper, kiwi, citrus fruits, Brussels sprouts, kale, strawberries, cauliflower, papaya. 7. Vitamin D Vitamin D is produced by the skin when it’s exposed to sunlight; but because many people spend more time indoors during winter this important nutrient often gets left out in the cold. Yet vitamin D is vital for good health as it helps our bodies absorb and distribute calcium. How much should you get? The US Institute of Medicine of The National Academies suggests that adults should aim to get 0.015mg of vitamin D daily. Sources: Fatty fish (tuna, mackerel, salmon), eggs, pork, ricotta cheese, fortified milk and cereal. 8. Magnesium Something of an unsung hero in the world of nutrients, magnesium is necessary to some 300 biochemical reactions in the body. It also keeps bones strong, helps maintain a healthy immune system and regulates blood pressure. And as if all that wasn’t enough, magnesium has likewise been linked to energy metabolism (i.e. generating energy from other nutrients). How much should you get? The NHS suggests 300mg a day for men and 270mg a day for women. Sources: Dark leafy greens (e.g. spinach, Swiss chard, kale), quinoa, beans and lentils, brown rice, whole wheat bread, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit. 9. Protein Though it’s often associated with sporting and bodybuilding activities, we all need protein as it’s essential for the growth and repair of cells, muscle and tissue. It can also help fight off sickness, provide a source of energy, and helps facilitate numerous chemical reactions in the body. However, some sources of protein such as red and processed meats should be eaten in moderation – if not avoided altogether. Aim instead to get your protein from healthier sources such as those listed below. How much should you get? Women should aim to get around 45 grams of protein per day; for men, the amount should be slightly higher at around 55 grams each day. Sources: Beans, nuts, seeds, tofu, fish, chicken, turkey, eggs. 10. Water Given that the human body is made of about 50 to 70% water, it’s baffling to think that so few of us drink enough of it. Water flushes out waste from the body while transporting nutrients around it and regulating body temperature. Indeed, all of your major systems depend on water to function properly. How much should you get? Adults should try to drink at least 8 to 10 glasses of water (with each glass containing around 200ml) each day.