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Everyone knows the benefits of a high fibre diet these days, as well as a diet that’s full of fresh fruits and vegetables, and low in refined sugars. If you’re working hard at the gym, you’ll also doubtless know all about the benefits of upping your protein to help mend and build those muscles. And you might even have been tempted to add a multivitamin to your daily routine to make sure you’re fully topped up with all the good stuff you need every day.

But many multivitamins and supplements don’t contain everything you need on a daily basis, and even the healthiest diets can sometimes fall short in the odd vitamin or mineral here and there—especially these five often overlooked nutrients listed here…



Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, is one of the single most important vitamins in your diet: it’s involved the metabolism of every single cell in the human body. Yep, everything from your DNA to your brain cells to your amino acids needs B12 to function correctly, so a deficiency in B12 can leave you feeling sluggish and muddle-headed, and just generally not operating at your best.

B12 is only found in natural sources like meat, fish, seafood and dairy produce. So vegans and vegetarians often fall foul of B12 deficiency—but so do meat-eaters whose diet relies on processed foods and take outs! In fact one study in the US found that as many as 15% of adults are B12 deficient.

To keep yourself topped up of this vitamin powerhouse, you can rely on eggs, chicken, lean beef, liver, seafood, and richly-flavoured fish like salmon and trout. If you’re not a meat lover, milk and natural yoghurt are good sources—but if you’re avoiding all animal produce, you might be better off with a B12 supplements or non-dairy alternatives that have been fortified with B12.



Considering that your body can manufacture its own supply of vitamin D when your skin is exposed to sunlight, it might seem strange to think that you can become deficient in it. But worldwide, vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common dietary complaints: as many as 1 billion people are said to be D deficient, while one survey found the condition affects as many as 2 out of every 5 adults.

So what to do if you can’t rely on the sun for your vitamin D boost? Well, dietary sources include eggs, milk, oily fish, and liver—so a nice healthy omelette or some mackerel should top you up effectively!



The third most abundant mineral in the body, potassium helps keep you hydrated and helps keeps your heart healthy, while symptoms of potassium deficiency—known as kypokalaemia—include everything from headaches to swollen glands.

The good news about potassium is that it’s easy to track down. The bad news is that if your diet is a bit light on fresh fruit and veg, it’s very easy to become deficient. So keep yourself topped up with a daily dose of banana, avocado, spinach, sweet potato, or beans.



Your body only needs a tiny amount of this fairly obscure element to function properly, but even this trace amount is important: selenium helps boost your immune system and supports the function of your thyroid, which helps regulate your metabolism.

Very few foods contain any useful amount of selenium, however—but you can get your daily dietary allowance with just a couple of crunchy brazil nuts.



It’s not just as a medical disinfectant that we need iodine—your body uses it to manufacture metabolism-boosting thyroid hormones, while in women a dietary deficiency in iodine has been linked to worsening symptoms of premenstrual tension and cramping.

So how can you keep yourself topped up? There’s iodine in red meats, eggs and other dairy produce, but for the best sources of iodine think seafood and salts: iodine is found in seawater, so seafood is a great natural source, as are products containing seaweed (like sushi, or laver bread), and certain brands of table salt.

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