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8 KEY NUTRIENTS FIT CHICKS NEED

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Think your daily multivitamin is giving you all the nutrition coverage you need? Don’t be so sure. Counting on a multi may give you some insurance if you follow a less-than-perfect diet, but it’s not a replacement for all the important nutrients you need to fuel your workouts, boost your recovery, and keep you healthy. “Some women rely on the idea that ‘I took my multi today, so I don’t need to worry about what I’m eating,’” says Lisa Bruno, M.S., R.D.N., of Work It Out Nutrition in Hoboken, NJ. “But you should always try to get your nutrients from your diet before you grab a supplement.” Not only does your body metabolize food better in its natural form, but when you aim to add certain nutrients to your diet, you’ll be more conscious overall about what you’re eating.

And while you probably already think about how much calcium, folic acid, and iron you’re getting, those aren’t the only essential nutrients. Try boosting your intake of these key vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients to keep your energy high, your mood happy, and your performance at its peak.

1. Vitamin C

Why you need it:

Iron is one of those key nutrients you likely know you need, especially if you have heavy periods. And low iron levels can lead to anemia, which can make you feel majorly fatigued. But if you want to keep up your iron levels, make sure you’re also getting enough vitamin C, which helps with iron absorption. “There are two different types of iron, the kind you get from eating meat and the kind that comes from plant sources like spinach, pumpkin seeds, and fortified cereals. The iron from nonmeat sources needs a little extra kick from vitamin C for your body to absorb it,” says Bruno.

On its own, vitamin C is also important for healthy skin and plays a role in collagen formation, says Lauren Slayton, M.S., R.D., founder of Foodtrainers in New York.

  • How much: 90 to 120mg of vitamin C a day. Also aim to get 18mg of iron per day.
  • Best sources: Kiwi, broccoli, green peas, red and green bell peppers.
2. Vitamin D

Why you need it:

As you may already know, not getting enough calcium in your diet can contribute to the development of osteoporosis, a disease women are already at a greater risk of developing than men. But to improve calcium absorption, you should also pay attention to your intake of vitamin D. “Vitamin D goes hand in hand with calcium. If you’re really focused on your calcium intake but you’re not getting enough vitamin D, you won’t be able to absorb and metabolize that calcium as well,” explains Bruno.

  • How much: 600 IU per day.
  • Best sources: Fortified dairy products like milk and yogurt aren’t the only way to get your D. You can also find it in salmon, tuna, sardines, and eggs.
3. Vitamin B6

Why you need it:

“B vitamins are important for maintaining energy, decreasing PMS, and improving mood,” says Slayton. Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) in particular is essential because it helps improve the production of red blood cells and your circulation. Chronic dry mouth or muscle cramps may also be caused by a lack of vitamin B6.

  • How much: A little goes a long way when it comes to vitamin B6—just 1.3mg per day.
  • Best sources: Chickpeas, bananas, fortified breakfast cereals.
4. Probiotics

Why you need them: “Your gut is like the control tower for your body. Most serotonin is produced in the gut, and so probiotic supplements and foods improve your mood. They also decrease sweet cravings, help with digestion, and boost immunity,” says Slayton.

  • How much: Probiotics are tiny, so they are measured in billions. You should aim to eat 10 to 20 billion per day, says Slayton.
  • Best sources: Greek yogurt, miso, kimchi, kombucha.
5. Magnesium

Why you need it:

“Most women are de cient in magnesium but don’t even know it,” says Slayton. “If your magnesium is low your metabolic rate suffers.” The mineral has several other bene ts, including lowering anxiety, improving regularity, and reducing migraine frequency. Birth control pills, stress, and sweating are known to deplete your body’s magnesium stores.

  • How much: 320mg per day.
  • Best sources: Almonds, spinach, peanut butter.
6. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Why you need them:

Omega-3s play an important role whether you’re trying to lose weight, clear your skin, or manage cholesterol. “If you’re an athlete or an avid exerciser, omega-3s should be a key part of your diet because they help decrease in ammation,” says Slayton.

  • How much: 1,000 to 2,000mg per day.
  • Best sources: Seafood, walnuts, chia seeds.
7. Potassium

Why you need it:

Potassium helps with muscle contraction, improves circulation, and protects against high blood pressure. And foods high in potassium can also make a perfect post-workout snack because they help decrease cramping, Bruno says.

  • How much: 4.7 grams per day.
  • Best sources: Sweet potato, avocado, squash, yogurt, white beans.
8. Iodine

Why you need it:

Adequate iodine levels are crucial for helping your thyroid run at its best, which will affect your metabolism and balance out your hormones. And if you’re thinking about getting pregnant, iodine is important for fetal brain development, says Bruno.

  • How much: 150 micrograms per day.
  • Best sources: Eggs, reduced-fat milk, yogurt.