Restoring Missing Nutrients With Power Foods

When you consider what we Americans typically put into our bodies each day — all the junk food, refined and enriched grains, and other sources of empty calories — it's not surprising that more than 80 percent of us don't meet the daily recommendations for key nutrients. Many vitamins and other micronutrients are necessary for hormone production, which means that to maintain a healthy metabolism, we need to pay attention to our nutrient intake.

Here are just a few key nutrients you probably need to restore to your diet. The daily nutrient intakes listed are recommendations of the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, a world-renowned research center on the science of micronutrients.

Pantothenic acid (5 milligrams a day): All steroid hormones, including estrogen and progesterone, can be produced only when you have enough pantothenic acid, or vitamin B5.

Food sources: 8 ounces yogurt (1.35 mg); ½ cup sweet potato (0.88 mg)

Potassium (4.7 grams a day): Potassium is both a mineral and an electrolyte that regulates as much as 40 percent of our resting metabolic rate.

Food sources: 1 medium baked potato (926 mg); 6 ounces tomato juice (417 mg)

Vitamin B6 (2 milligrams a day): This vitamin helps the body release glucose from stored glycogen. It also binds to the receptors for steroid hormones, preventing the uptake of excessive hormones and thus possibly helping to reduce the risk of breast and prostate cancer.

Food sources: 3 ounces chicken (0.51 mg); 1 medium banana (0.43 mg)

Zinc (15 milligrams a day): Zinc levels are linked to levels of leptin, the hormone that helps us feel satisfied after eating.

Food sources: 6 medium oysters (76 mg); 3 ounces dark-meat turkey (3.8 mg); 1/2 cup baked beans (1.8 mg)

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