“Eat your broccoli and drink your milk” are two things most of us heard at the dinner table when we were kids. If we wanted to grow big and strong, that’s just what we needed to do. But our parents failed to mention the endless other nutrients we’d need to consume for the rest of our lives to stay healthy. And that’s probably because they didn’t know about them.
So as we got older, and more and more information about nutrients became available, we started taking supplements to ensure we were getting our daily dose of everything — from protein powders to green pills to vitamin C packets. But health experts are now saying to skip the supplements and focus on a diet filled with whole foods. And it completely makes sense.
Eating actual food ensures that you’re getting all the under-appreciated nutrients that are left out of supplements and that you may be inadvertently ignoring. Drew Ramsey, MD, a New York-based psychiatrist, farmer and author of Eat Complete broke it down to Equinox’s online magazine Furthermore.
7 nutrients you should probably work into your diet, asap
This mineral is essential for brain development in early life and for metabolic activity. It has been proven to improve IQ. It can be found in seaweed, scallops, cod, yogurt and milk. Sushi, anyone?
2. B1 (Thiamine)
B12 and B9 and the common B vitamins, but B1 — which is essential for energy production within cells — is also super important. “The brain mainly runs on glucose (blood sugar), and turning glucose into energy requires thiamine,” Ramsey said. So if you aren’t getting enough B1, you may have low energy and brain fog. Alcohol, exercise and pregnancy can cause you need to need even more. Try foods with high levels of Thiamine: Trout, lean pork, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts, wheat bread, green peas and cooked asparagus.
It’s the amino acid that causes all humans to be excruciatingly tired after eating Thanksgiving turkey. But don’t skip it, because it’s actually an essential building block of the neurotransmitter serotonin. If you don’t get enough, your brain will make less serotonin, which can affect your mood, memory, and increase aggression, Ramsey says. It can be found in turkey, cod, beef, soybeans and asparagus (asparagus for the win again!).
4. Vitamin K and Magnesium
Vitamin K plays a big role in blood coagulation and clotting and is linked to a decreased risk of heart disease, and it also plays a role in the absorption of calcium. Magnesium is a mineral that’s also involved in calcium absorption, as well as nerve and brain function. Leafy greens like kale, collards and spinach contain vitamin K, and pumpkin seeds, almonds and beans contain magnesium.
Cooked tomatoes and watermelon juice contain lycopene, which may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and prostate cancer. So basically pizza is healthy.
Choline is a building block for cells and a nutrient we need for pretty much everything — memory; the methylation cycle, which regulates our mood and energy levels; and the regulation of inflammation, which is important for people who work out a lot. It can be found in eggs, beef, seafood, broccoli and peanuts.