By Ruth Ann Clayton, RD

In my June articleI challenged you to eat nutritious food at home, eat less processed items, make high nutrient dense food choices, when available, and to limit nutrient poor foods.  These challenges were made as it has been established that the Standard American Diet (SAD) contains too much salt, sugar, saturated fat and refined grains contributing to gaps in our nutrition.  Improving our food choices and filling those gaps can go a long way to improve your health.

Our food environment is epitomized by processed foods, cheap fast foods and chemically laden foods.  Fad diets, alcohol intake, and smoking deplete nutrients in our bodies even before modern agricultural methods triggered mineral loss in your food.  Low body reserves, poor digestion and usage of certain medications are causing nutrient depletion in seniors.  Factor in your overall busy stressful life and you have the makings of nutrient deficiencies which can compromise your health over time.

Eating closer to nature is your first choice to resolve this.  The alternative may create a need for supplementation.  So the question is, which nutrients should you supplement and how much?

According to the USDA Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee, Americans are deficient in the Vitamins:  A, D, E, C, folate and the minerals calcium, magnesium, potassium, chromium, and copper.  Fiber is also below standard.  Clearly the SAD does not provide enough of these nutrients.  A nutrient dense diet and a personal supplement program is needed to fill in the gaps

The Journal of the American Medical Association has recommended all adults take a multivitamin containing the vitamins and minerals proven essential to human health.  Many can benefit from a Vitamin B complex for overall improved energy, mental well-being, nerve health and lower risk of heart disease.  Ask your Doctor to check your B12 and Folic Acid levels.

Get your Vitamin D level checked too because more than 70% of Americans are deficient.   Some minerals such as calcium and magnesium are difficult to obtain totally from your diet.  Both are necessary not only for bone health, but also for other body process including the heart and muscles.  Omega 3 Essential Fatty Acids are rapidly declining in our foods and their loss may lead to heart disease, cancers and mental disorders.

Ask yourself “How am I doing nutritionally?”  Is the SAD causing me to be deficient in nutrients needed to maintain optimal health?  Is my health being compromised by inadequate nutrition?  There is a small window between nutrient deficiencies that cause illness and the amount needed to keep you healthy.  Talk with your doctor or a dietitian to develop a personal supplement program to fill in the gaps in your diet.

Ruth Ann Clayton, Registered Dietitian, is active in both the American Dietetics Association and Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Dietetic Practice Group. Her nationally accredited Dietetic Internship and her years of experience in public health and hospital settings reflect her commitment to your health and well being.

As the co-owner of Nature’s Way, she uses her comprehensive background to research products, read labels, investigate manufacturers and provide information for her customers.