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Bridging the Gap

03/30/2015 04:57AM ● By Family Features
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(Family Features) Today, our busy lifestyles make it challenging to ensure we’re getting all of the nutrients our body needs. We split time between 40+ hour work weeks, after school activities, band practice, time at the gym and errands – all leaving precious little time to ensure we eat a balanced diet. It’s easy to understand why many Americans have a nutrient gap.

According to a study published in The Journal of Nutrition, 90 percent of Americans fall short in getting key nutrients from food alone. To make up for this shortfall, supplementing with essential nutrients like omega-3s, lutein, zeaxanthin, and vitamins D and E can help ensure your body is getting the vital nutrition it needs for optimal health.

Don’t know how best to fill your shortfalls? Consider sitting down with a registered dietitian to discuss your unique needs, especially if you’re taking medication or have a health condition. Beforehand, take stock of your diet and arm yourself with information about how you can improve your overall nutrition to fight heart disease, and support eye health, brain health and prenatal health.

Check your diet
According to the American Heart Association, the average adult’s daily diet should include:

  • Eight or more servings of colorful, vitamin E- and lutein-rich fruits and green vegetables
  • Three or more servings of 100 percent whole grains
  • Three servings of a calcium/vitamin D-rich food, such as nonfat milk
  • Two servings of protein/iron/zinc-rich foods, such as legumes, chicken breast or extra-lean meat
  • At least twice a week, a serving of fatty fish with omega-3s, such as salmon

Fill nutrient gaps
If you aren’t eating enough nutrient-rich food, supplementing with the right nutrients can help fill the gap. Shortfalls should be addressed, as deficiencies may lead to health issues.

Eye health: Proper eye care is often neglected until it is too late to make a difference. According to the American Optometric Association, lutein and zeaxanthin may reduce the risk of chronic eye diseases, including cataracts.

Heart health: Heart disease and stroke are top killers, according to the American Heart Association. Omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial to your heart, whether healthy or at high risk for cardiovascular disease. However, people closely monitoring fat intake, such as those with coronary artery disease, may not get enough omega-3s by diet alone.

Brain health: Brain volume and general cognitive function decline with age. Focusing on nutrition, physical health, mental health and social well-being can help support brain health. In addition, studies from the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging show that vitamin E helps slow the progression of Alzheimer’s because of its antioxidant properties.

Prenatal health: A mother’s nutrition at conception, during pregnancy and through lactation plays a key role in determining both her and her child’s health. Numerous studies have found a range of benefits associated with DHA omega-3 supplementation, including support of infant brain, eye and nervous system development.

To learn more about the essential nutrients your body needs, visit

Photo courtesy of Getty Images

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