5 Nutrients You Might Not Be Getting Enough of (and How to Fix It, According to a Health Coach)
Between our exorbitant caffeine intake and restaurant-heavy diet, we aren’t always the most in tune with our body, which is probably why we’re not exactly operating at superhero levels. So we asked holistic health and nutrition coach Katrine van Wyk to shed some light on a few vitamins, minerals and other compounds that New Yorkers are commonly short on—plus which foods will help get you back into fighting shape.
You know probiotics are great for your gut, but if you’ve been downing yogurt and kimchi on the reg and still feel like your digestion’s not humming along smoothly, van Wyk says, “You might be missing one vital piece—feeding those good bacteria with ‘prebiotics,’ non-digestible fiber that helps the good bacteria in your body thrive.” She recommends loading up on jicama, artichokes, dandelion greens and onions.
Dealing those annoying red bumps on your upper arms? You may need to up your intake of true vitamin A. “Although we think of the beta-carotene in many plants (carrots, peppers, sweet potatoes etc.) as a great source of vitamin A, it is actually just a precursor that the body then has to turn into vitamin A, something it’s not very good at,” van Wyk explains. If you can, eat egg yolks, liver (perhaps in the form of a yummy pâté) and dairy products. Vegans should be sure to eat plenty of the aforementioned veggies, along with some fat to aid absorption.
It seems like this vitamin comes up every winter, but van Wyk says you really can’t overstate its importance. “The list of symptoms of low vitamin D is very long and includes fatigue and low immunity.” You can find out if your levels are truly low by requesting a blood test from your doc, but if you live in NYC in the winter and work inside, there’s a good chance you could use a boost. Aside from responsible sun exposure consider adding a supplement during the winter and piling your plate with D-rich foods.
“I like to call this the chill-out nutrient,” says van Wyk. Who wouldn’t want that, right? Surprisingly, though, most people are low: Achy muscles, anxiety and trouble sleeping are just a few symptoms related to magnesium deficiency. That might also explain that chocolate craving—just one square of dark chocolate contains 41 milligrams of the mineral. (“You heard me—it’s basically medicine!”) Other great sources are dark, leafy greens (a subject van Wyk is an expert on) and oysters.
Yes, you’ve been hearing about these for years, but that’s because their benefits are seemingly never-ending. “Dry, dull skin? Achy joints? Feel inflamed and a bit down? You might need some more good fats in your life,” van Wyk says. You’ll find the coveted fatty acids in wild fish like sardines or salmon (yep, that lox bagel counts as a superfood) and grass-fed meat (though van Wyk cautions that’s not the case with grain-fed). “If you just don’t eat those foods on a regular basis, consider taking a supplement, either a fish oil or a plant-based algae one.”