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3 Nutrients You Should Add To Your Diet

From TIME - October 5, 2017

Even if you watch what you eat (most of the time), generally healthy eaters can still miss out on critical vitamins and minerals that the body needs to stay in fine tune, says Wendy Bazilian, DrPH, author of Eat Clean, Stay Lean. Here, three nutrients that keep everything from your brain to your immune system hummingplus easy ways to make sure you get them, courtesy of Healths contributing nutrition editor, registered dietitian Cynthia Sass.

B vitamins

They boost your brainpower and protect your heart

Of the eight B vitamins, B12 and folate are the most famous. B12 helps your body convert food into energy, and you need it to make the insulation, called myelin, that covers your nerves and helps neurons in the brain communicate with one another. B12 deficiency has been linked to cognitive issues like memory loss, confusion, and depression.

Folate is known to be crucial for pregnant womenbut we all need it. The fact that it plays such an important role in fetal development speaks volumes about its importance, says registered dietitian Dawn Jackson Blatner, author of The Superfood Swap. Folate is vital because it helps lower levels of an amino acid that can contribute to stroke and cardiovascular disease risk. Typically, people think of fiber and healthy fats as good for the heart, says Blatner, but folate and other B vitamins are part of that heart-smart group.

Where to get them

Since B12 is one of the rare nutrients not available in plants, its easy to come up short, especially if youre a vegetarian. Good sources include eggs, cheese, fish, milk, yogurt, and red meat. Unlike B12, folate is found in plenty of good-for-you produce, including greens like spinach, asparagus, and Brussels sprouts, as well as beans and fortified cereals.

Dish em up

For a smoothie: Blend baby spinach, a small banana, almond milk, almond butter, chickpea our, and ground cinnamon.

For a salad: Top chopped romaine with a big spoonful of guac. Garnish with pico de gallo, black beans, and grilled shrimp.

For a soup: Add 2 cups vegetable broth to sauteed chopped onions and garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 10 minutes. Add 1 cup cooked lentils and 1 cup fresh spinach; stir until spinach has wilted. Top with a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Vitamin D

It's good for your bones and your immune system

Scientists dont agree on exactly how much D people truly need. But plenty of science shows its crucial for a healthy body. One of the nutrients most important functions is improving your ability to absorb calcium, which helps build strong bones. Vitamin D is also key when it comes to regulating your immune function. There is some evidence linking low levels of D to the development of autoimmune diseases like Crohns disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and multiple sclerosis.

Where to get it

Vitamin D is tough to find in food. Most of the D in your body is produced in response to sunlight. But if you slather on SPF (as dermatologists recommend!) or live in a northern climate, you can still get a good dose of the vitamin from foods like egg yolks, oily fish such as sardines, and fortified milks, orange juices, and cereals. (Ask your doc if you should also take a supplement.)

Dish it up

Magnesium

It helps you snooze and eases pain

Where to get it

Dish it up

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