The problem: Although many foods are now fortified with folate, certain medical conditions and medications may increase the need for this B vitamin, the ODS says. (Folate is the form of this vitamin found naturally in food; folic acid is the form found in dietary supplements and fortified foods.) Medical conditions that increase the need for folate include pregnancy and breast-feeding; alcohol abuse; kidney dialysis; liver disease; and anemia. Medications that interfere with folate include drugs to treat epilepsy, diabetes, colitis and rheumatoid arthritis. Barbiturates also may interfere with folate.
The remedy: Dark greens provide the highest amounts of folate. A cup of cooked spinach provides 200 micrograms. Other foods rich in this B vitamin include navy beans, oranges and fortified grains. Ask your doctor about supplements.
Why you need it: To help make connective tissues, strengthen blood vessels and gums, and boost infection-fighting cells.
What you need: 75 mg per day; 85 mg a day for pregnant women; 120 mg day for women who are breastfeeding; and an additional 35 mg for smokers.
The problem: Many busy women find it tough to eat enough fruits and vegetables, as recommended by USDA dietary guidelines.
The remedy: Think fresh and raw, then plan ahead to include citrus fruits and dark veggies for every meal and snack. On the run, grab salads and fruit bowls that feature cantaloupe, papaya, kiwi, green peppers or broccoli.
Why you need it:Magnesium helps produce the energy in your cells, keep your muscles and nerves working, keep heart rhythm steady, keep your immune system healthy and build bone, the ODS says. It regulates blood pressure and blood sugar.
What you need: Women need 310 to 320 mg; 350 to 360 mg if pregnant.
The problem: Americans tend to fall 100 mg short. That may tip the scales against bone strength. Processed food junkies miss out on magnesium.
The remedy: Switch to whole, fresh, nutrient-dense foods. Trade iceberg lettuce for spinach (a half cup provides 65 mg); chips for nuts (an ounce of almonds provides 86 mg), and white bread for bran (134 mg per slice).