Cover Your Bases with the Four Most Under-Consumed Nutrients

Most of us know that people require water, protein, carbohydrates, and fats to stay alive. But essential vitamins and minerals are just as important in human functioning even if they are needed in smaller amounts.

In fact, potassium, fiber, calcium, and vitamin D are considered nutrients of public health concern because low intakes are associated with chronic diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, type-2 diabetes, and high blood pressure.

 So, let’s make sure you are covering all the bases when it comes to your nutrition.


Potassium deficiency can cause real concerns if you are active in sports, these include muscle weakness, fatigue, and a risk of high blood pressure.

It is important to your muscle function, nerve function, and balance of fluids like water in your body to intake enough potassium. The 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines (go to pg. 98) recommends that 14 –18-year-old females consume 2,300 milligrams of potassium a day and 14 – 18-year-old males consume 3,000 milligrams.

Pork is an excellent source of potassium. A 3-ounce serving of pork provides 11% of your daily needs. Other foods high in potassium are sweet potatoes, orange juice, leafy greens, yogurt and fresh fruits like bananas, cantaloupe, and grapefruit.

 Flatbreads are a great way to add pork to your diet, especially if you have leftovers from pork tenderloin prepared for another meal.  Check out this Pork Tenderloin and Sausage Flatbread.

Photo courtesy of the National Pork Board, Des Moines, Iowa.


Consuming fiber promotes bowel health and helps regulate blood glucose levels.  It also may help with weight control because you’ll feel full.

Deficiencies can result in constipation, a higher risk for diabetes, and heart disease. High school females should be consuming about 25 grams of fiber a day, while high school aged males should be consuming 31 grams.

The best sources of fiber are found in fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, and whole grains.


Increased amounts of calcium are significant to those who are still growing and developing, and that applies to most teens. High schoolers should be consuming 1,300 milligrams of calcium every day.

Calcium is important to bone health, as well as playing an important role in muscle contraction and transmitting messages through the nerves. This will be the last time in your life that you can build bone health proactively.

If you are not eating enough calcium, your body will take calcium from your bones to ensure proper cell function, and that may lower your bone mass. High sources of calcium are found in dairy products like cheese, yogurt and cottage cheese, as well as dark green vegetables, and calcium-fortified cereals.

Vitamin D

Like calcium, vitamin D is also important to bone health. When vitamin D and calcium work together, they can make bones strong and healthy.

 A deficiency of vitamin D can lead to the development of soft bones when you become an adult. High schoolers should be consuming 600 IU of vitamin D daily.

High sources of vitamin D are found in fatty fish like salmon, tuna and sardines. You can also eat vitamin D-fortified foods such as milk, yogurt, dairy, juice, and cereals.

Another important source of vitamin D is sunlight. A lot of people in the Midwest tend to see more deficiency problems during the winter when we spend more time indoors and because the UV levels aren’t as strong. But now that it is almost summer time, summer sports practices and games, swimming at the pool, or enjoying a nice walk are perfect ways to soak up the sun!