Vitamins and minerals are considered to be the health superstars of the body. These microscopic nutrients play significant roles in turning food into fuel as well fortifying bones and eyesight. We must always be aware of the essential vitamins and minerals that keep us living, smiling and kicking.
Let’s get started. Here are some key terms you have to know…..
These refer to organic substances necessary for a normal cell growth, function and development.
These refer to those vitamins that can be absorbed directly by cells. Included on the list are vitamin C, folic acid, biotin, the four B complex vitamins and pantothenic acid. However, when in excess, these can be flushed out of our body in the form of urine.
These refer to those that bind to fat in the stomach and are then stored in the body to be used later on. In some cases, due to extreme overconsumption of these vitamins (A, D, E, and K), toxic levels commonly build up.
These refer to inorganic substances – meaning they contain no carbon. They are needed for the normal body function and development. There are two groups of minerals: trace minerals (needed in a small pinch only) and macro minerals (needed in large doses).
The tolerable upper intake level (UL) refers to the maximum amount of daily vitamin and mineral dosage that an average person needs to be likely safe and keep toxicities at bay.
Recommended Dietary Allowances or RDAs, refers to the average daily dietary consumption of each vitamin and mineral a certain person needs to steer clear of deficiencies as well as to stay healthy.
Due to lack of scientific data, RDA has not yet been set in some vitamins and what’s being used in replace of it is an AI or adequate intake level.
Larger doses of vitamins and minerals are expressed in units of milligrams (mg). On the other hand, trace minerals and vitamins are expressed in micrograms (mcg). There is 1,000 mcg in one milligram.
THE KEY PLAYERS
Biotin (a.k.a. Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H):
Biotin plays a significant role in food metabolism and cell growth. Deficiency of this vitamin is very rare. However, consumption of too much raw egg whites can prevent the body from absorbing biotin.
How to get it – Cooked salmon (4-5 mcg per ounces), eggs (13-25 mcg per large egg), whole grains (0.02-6 mcg per slice of bread) or avocados (2-6 mcg per avocado)
What you need – 30 mcg
What’s too much – Not determined
A daily dose of this micromineral is vital for the healthy development of teeth and bones. It helps ward off osteoporosis. Furthermore, it offers a helping hand in blood clotting, home secretion, blood pressure, nerve signaling and muscle function. On the other hand, too much consumption of this may carry a risk for heart disease or kidney stone formation.
How to get it – Yogurt (300 mg per cup), tofu (258 mg per ½ cup), bok choy (79 mg per ½ cup), Quench calcium thirst with milk (300 mg per cup—ice cream counts too!), rhubarb (174 mg per ½ cup) and spinach (115 mg per ½ cup)
What you need – 1,000 mg
What’s too much – 2,500 mg
This is needed for the brain and nerve activities as well as in turning the food we eat and our stored energy into fuel. Some individuals (like vegetarians, pregnant women, and endurance athletes) are at greater risk of choline deficiency, which is being linked to atherosclerosis, neurological disorders, fatty liver disease and impaired fetal development. If you consume more than 10 grams of choline per day, you may experience increased sweating, vomiting, fishy body odor and salivation.
How to get it – cooked broccoli and Brussels sprouts (both 62 mg per cup), beef (67 mg per 3 ounces), milk chocolate (20 mg per 1.5 ounces bar), eggs (126 mg per egg), milk (38 mg per cup)
What you need – Men = 550 mg; Women = 425mg
What’s too much – 3,500 mg
Chromium is not considered “essential” and is only needed in small amounts. But, this trace mineral is thought to improve the breakdown of sugars we eat and the insulin activity of the body. Overconsumption of this supplement can lead to kidney damage.
How to get it – broccoli (22 mcg per cup), grape juice (7.5 mcg per cup), whole-wheat English muffins (3.6 mcg per muffin), and whole-wheat products like whole-wheat frozen waffles (6.7 mcg per waffle)
What you need – Men = 35 mcg; Women = 25 mcg
What’s too much – Not determined
Aside from being an essential trace element and antioxidant, copper is the frontline in the creation of red blood cells. Moreover, it is also necessary for proper nervous system function, proper energy metabolism and immunity. Copper deficiencies may manifest as anemia, a low white blood cell count, and bone deterioration.
How to get it – cooked liver (4,049 mcg per ounce), crabmeat (634 per 3 ounces), nuts (cashews, for example, offer 629 mcg per ounce), oysters (670 mcg per medium oyster), semisweet chocolate (198 mcg per ounce), raw mushrooms (344 mcg per cup)
What you need – 900 mcg
What’s too much –10,000 mcg
Fluoride helps keep our teeth cavity-free and bones less breakable.
How to get it – canned sardines (0.2-0.4 mg per 3.5 ounces), chicken (0.06-0.10 mg per 3.5 ounces), grape juice (0.05-0.64 mg per cup)
What you need – Men = 4 mg; Women = 3 mg
What’s too much –10 mg
Folic Acid (a.k.a. folate or folacin):
This is vital for pregnant women in order to ensure the baby’s proper development and prevent birth defects in spine and brain. Additionally, it also helps in the creation of almost all cells in the body and may give a helping hand in reducing the risk of colon cancer and heart disease.
How to get it – fortified grains and cereals (200-400 mcg per cup), spinach (132 mcg per half cup), orange juice (83 mcg per cup), lentils (179 per half cup), asparagus (134 mcg per 6 spears)
What you need – 400 mcg
What’s too much – 1,000 mcg
Aside from being a crucial component of thyroid hormones, iodine also helps nerve and muscle function, regulate body temperature and plays an important role in the body’s development and growth. Excess of iodine leads to hyperthyroidism, goiters, severe cases of GI discomfort and burning of throat, stomach, and mouth. While too little of this causes even goiters, developmental abnormalities, and thyroid dysfunction.
How to get it – iodine with cod (99 mcg per 3 ounces), milk (56 mcg per cup), shrimp (35 mcg per 3 ounces), canned tuna (17 mcg per half can), (small amounts of) seaweed (more than than 4,500 mcg per ¼ ounce!), baked potatoes (60 mcg per medium potato)
What you need – 150 mcg
What’s too much – 1,000 mcg
Iron helps hemoglobin brings oxygen to all the cells that need it. It is vital in the production of collagen, amino acids, hormone, and neurotransmitters. Excess of this can cause nausea, diarrhea, GI irritation, vomiting, and constipation.
How to get it – beef (2.32 mg per 3 cooked ounces), prune juice (2.28 mg per 6 fluid ounces), potatoes (1.87 mg per medium potato), oysters (5.04 mg per 6 medium oysters), raisins (0.81 mg per small box), cashews (1.89 per ounce), cooked lentils (3.30 mg per half cup), tofu (2.15 mg per ¼ block),
What you need – Men = 8 mg; Women = 18 mg
What’s too much –45 mg
Combined with calcium, this macro-mineral can assist in the proper muscle contraction, cell signaling, blood pressure regulation, blood clotting, energy metabolism as well as building teeth and bones. If popping magnesium supplement is your thing, then watch out for lethargy, diarrhea, muscle weakness and heart rate disturbances.
How to get it – Magnify magnesium intake with oat bran (96 mg per half cup), bananas (32 mg per banana), molasses (48 mg per tablespoon)almonds (78 mg per ounce), brown rice (86 mg per cup), cooked spinach (78 mg per half cup)
What you need – Men = 400 mg; Women = 310 mg
What’s too much – There is no upper limit for dietary magnesium, but supplemental magnesium should not exceed 350 mg/day.
This is important for bone development, energy, and wound healing. Even though manganese is an essential trace mineral and antioxidant, excess of it can be potentially toxic – resulting in a dip in intellectual function.
How to get it – oatmeal (0.99 mg per instant oatmeal packet), brown rice (1.07 mg per half cup), limited portion of this potion with pineapples (0.77 mg per half cup), green tea (0.41-1.58 mg per cup), pecans (1.28 mg per ounce)
What you need – Men = 2.3 mg; Women = 1.8 mg
What’s too much –11 mg
As an important factor of many enzymes, this trace mineral speeds up body’s biochemical reactions that break down dietary and stored nutrients into energy. Deficiency and toxicity from this have never been documented in healthy people.
How to get it – legumes like black beans (130 mcg per cup) and split peas (148 mcg per cup), nuts like almonds, peanuts and chestnuts (all about 42 mcg per cup)
What you need –45 mcg
What’s too much –2,000 mcg
Niacin (a.k.a. Vitamin B3 or Nicotinic Acid):
Essential for converting food into energy, niacin is also vital for the health of the skin, eyes, hair, nervous system and liver. Moreover, it is also believed that it can lower the risk of heart disease and high cholesterol. Niacin deficiencies may lead to pellagra (associated with dermatitis, diarrhea, dementia, and death!). Rosy-tingling or “niacin flush” can be a result of high doses of niacin and this can be toxic.
How to get it – peanuts (3.8 mg per ounce), fortified cereals (20-27 mg per cup), chicken (7.3 mg per 3 ounces), coffee (0.5 mg per cup), salmon (8.5 mg per 3 ounces)
What you need –16 mg; Women = 14 mg
What’s too much –35 mg
Pantothenic Acid (a.k.a. Vitamin B5):
As it assists in synthesizing neurotransmitters, red blood cells, steroids and more, this vitamin is important in food metabolism. Neurologic symptoms such as burning feet may crop up as a result of being deficient in vitamin B5.
How to get it – Steer clear of tingling toes with foods like chicken (0.98 mg per 3 ounces), eggs (0.61 mg per large egg), yogurt (1.35 mg per cup), mushrooms (0.52 mg per half cup), sweet potato (0.88 mg per medium potato), whole grains (0.19 mg per slice of whole wheat bread), avocados (1.99 mg per whole avocado)
What you need – 5 mg (AI)
What’s too much –Not determined
You will be able to keep your teeth and bones prosperous with the help of phosphorus. A component of both DNA and RNA, this micromineral also aids in converting food into energy as well as helping in shuttling nutrients to the organs that need them. Cases of phosphorus deficiency often lead to anemia, loss appetite, numbness and tingling in legs, muscle weakness, and rickets in children.
How to get it – all-things dairy, like milk (257 mg per cup), cheese (131 mg per ounce) and yogurt (385 mg per cup); salmon (252 mg per 3 ounces), chicken (155 mg per 3 ounces), eggs (104 mg per large egg), beer (173 mg per 3 ounces), carbonated cola drinks (40 mg per 12 ounces)
What you need – 700 mg
What’s too much – 4,000 mg
Potassium is the essential factor for a steady heartbeat, muscle function and transmission of nervous system signals. Alongside with sodium, this electrolyte helps the kidney save fluids when we are dehydrated or excrete fluids when in excesses. Aside from this, it is also thought that potassium can lower blood pressure and benefit bones as well. Muscle weakness and cramps, abdominal pain, bloating, constipation and fatigue are some of the short-term potassium deficiencies. Furthermore, consumption of this in high doses leads to tingling hands and feet, muscle weakness, abnormal heart rhythms and GI symptoms.
How to get it – plums (637 mg per ½ cup), raisins (598 mg per ½ cup), baked potatoes (926 mg per medium potato), artichokes (343 mg per medium artichoke), and bananas (422 per medium banana)
What you need – 4,700 mg
What’s too much – Not determined
Riboflavin (Vitamin B2):
This water-soluble vitamin encourages iron absorption in the intestines and converts food to fuel. It can also enhance the health of the skin, hair, eyes, brain, and muscles as well as an effective vitamin for battling a migraine. High dosage intake of riboflavin may turn your urine into a bright yellow color. Its uncommon deficiency includes inflamed “magenta” tongue, cracks and sores around the lips, and sore throat.
How to get it – almonds (0.23 mg per ounce), cheddar cheese (0.11 mg per ounce), milk (0.34 mg per cup), eggs (0.27 mg per large egg), enriched grains and cereals (0.59-2.27 mg per cup)
What you need – Men = 1.3mg; Women = 1.1mg
What’s too much – Not determined
Apart from being an antioxidant, selenium is considered to be a smooth-operator of thyroid hormone regulation. Excess of this trace mineral can commonly cause nausea, hair and nail brittleness and GI discomfort.
How to get it – enriched noodles (38 mcg per cup), beef (16 mcg per 3 ounces), brazil nuts (544 mcg per six kernels) are sky-high in selenium, and shrimp (34 mcg per 10-12 shrimp), crabmeat (41 mcg per 3 ounces), salmon (40 mcg per 3 ounces), a decent slice of pork (35 mcg per 3 ounces)
What you need – 55 mcg
What’s too much – 400 mcg
Sodium Chloride (a.k.a. salt):
Sodium chloride, commonly known as table salt, can be found mostly in snacks, meals, and drinks. It is necessary for digestion, blood pressure, fluid balance, nerve signal transmission and muscle contractions. Excess consumption of this can lead to many serious health conditions such as hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, and high blood pressure.
How to get it – Sodium chloride can be soaked up from white bread (850 mg per two slices), hot dogs (1,300 mg per one wiener), pickles (800 mg per 1 spear), canned goods such as chicken noodle soup (a striking 3,400 mg of NaCl per cup)
What you need – 500 mg of sodium; 750 mg chloride
What’s too much – 2,300 mg of sodium (the equivalent of 5.8 g of salt per day)
Thiamin (a.k.a. Vitamin B1):
Thiamin boosts the health of hair, muscles, skin, and brain. It also helps with food metabolism. In a variety of ways, symptoms of its deficiency may affect nervous, muscular, gastrointestinal and muscular systems.
How to get it – Dodge beriberi with a fair share of milk (0.10 mg per cup), cantaloupe (0.11 mg per ½ fruit), pecans (0.19 mg per ounce), lentils (0.17 mg per ½ cup), enriched long grain white rice (0.26 mg per cup)
What you need – Men = 1.2 mg; Women = 1.1 mg
What’s too much – Not determined
Vitamin A (a.k.a. retinol, retinal, retinoic acid):
Vitamin A has many other vital tasks aside from being good for vision. Some of these include encouraging red and white blood cell production and activity, helping rebuild bone, keeping the immune system fit and blood vessels healthy, reducing the risks of some cancers and regulating cell growth and division. Vitamin A deficiency symptoms include diarrhea as well as susceptibility to infectious diseases.
How to get it – kale (443 mcg per ½ cup), cantaloupe (467 mcg per ½ a melon), mango (79 mcg per fruit), consider carrots (538 mcg per ½ cup), baked sweet potatoes (961 mcg per ½ cup), eggs (91 mcg per large egg) and cod liver oil (1,350 mcg per teaspoon), canned pumpkin (953 mcg per ½ cup), and butternut squash (572 mcg per ½ cup).
What you need – Men = 900 mcg; Women = 700 mcg
What’s too much – 3,000 mcg
Vitamin B6 (a.k.a. pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine):
This water-soluble vitamin aids in the production of serotonin – a hormone that plays a hand in appetite, sleep and mood. It is also needed in the manufacturing of steroid hormones and red blood cells. Moreover, it is linked to the reduction of heart disease risks and influences cognitive and immune function. Diets with extreme B6 deficiency may cause seizures and other neurological system problems as well.
How to get it – chicken (0.51 mg per 3 ounces), salmon (0.48 mg per 3 ounces), bananas (0.43 mg per medium banana), hazelnuts (0.18 mg per ounce), cooked spinach (0.44 mg per cup), baked russet potatoes with the skin (0.70 mg per medium potato),
What you need – 1.3 mg
What’s too much – 100 mg
Aside from reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s, vitamin B12 also gives a helping hand in the metabolism of amino and fatty acids, protection of nerve cells and cell creation. Deficiencies from this include dementia, memory loss, and anemia.
How to get it – Beef (2.1 mcg per 3 ounces), poached eggs (0.6 mcg per large egg), binge on bivalves like clams (84 mcg per 3 ounces) and mussels (20.4 mcg per 3 ounces); salmon (2.4 mcg per 3 ounces), skim milk (0.9 mcg per cup), and brie cheese (0.5 mcg per ounce)
What you need – 2.4 mcg
What’s too much – Not determined
Vitamin C (a.k.a. ascorbic acid):
As we go on, we remember… that vitamin C is one of the best vitamins ever! Cartons of OJ are emblazoned with this famous vitamin’s name — and for a good reason. Vitamin C is thought to lower the risk of some cancers, including cancers of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and breast. It also helps make collagen, an important tool in wound repair. And let’s not forget its antioxidant properties and immune-boosting effects! But before chugging that daily glass of Emergen-C to ward off a cold, know that evidence linking “mega-doses” of Vitamin C to stave off sickness are conflicting. How so? A review of 30 research trials that included over 11,000 people showed that the incidence of the common cold is not decreased with high Vitamin C intake.
What’s more, the potential for vitamin C overdose is not ruled out, though uncertain. But don’t skimp on C: After all, scurvy — the severe vitamin C deficiency linked to bleeding, bruising, joint pain, and hair and tooth loss — is for pirates, not millennials. Arrrr!
What You Need: Men = 90 mg; Women = 75mg (Smokers should add 35 mg)
How to Get It: Choose citrus, like OJ (100+ mg per cup) and grapefruits (76 mg per medium fruit), or consider strawberries (85 mg per cup), tomatoes (16 mg per medium tomato), red peppers (95 mg per ½ cup), and broccoli (51 mg per ½ cup).
What’s Too Much: 2,000 mg
Who loves the sun? This essential fat-soluble vitamin — which is vital for normal calcium metabolism, immunity, nervous system function, and bone density — sure does. But before vitamin D can live up to its expectations, it must be activated by a burst of UV rays. Before you throw on a bikini and soak up the sun (putting you at risk for skin cancer!) consider supplements or cereals, milk, and juices that are fortified with the active form, which is equally effective. Dips in vitamin D are no joke: chronic deficiency puts you at risk for osteoporosis later in life. Make sure your diet shines with vitamin D (especially in the winter) to keep your bones healthy and reduce risks of cancer.
What You Need – 15 mcg How to Get It: Dive into vitamin D with fortified cereals (1.0-1.3 mcg per cup), fortified milk (2.4 mcg per cup), canned salmon (13.3 mcg per 3 ounces), and egg yolks (0.53 mcg per large egg.
What’s Too Much – 50 mcg.
E is for the Excellent Eight. A family of eight antioxidants, vitamin E protects essential lipids from damage, battles free radicals, and maintains the integrity of cell membranes. Drop some E (the vitamin!) to avoid impaired balance and coordination, muscle weakness, and pain and numbness in the limbs — all signs of extreme deficiency. Think you’re in the clear? Turns out that more than 90 percent of Americans do not meet the recommendations for this vitamin’s daily intake.
What You Need – 15 mg How to Get It: Close the gap with vegetable oils like olive oil (1.9 mg per tablespoon), canola oil (2.4 mg per tablespoon), almonds (7.4 mg per ounce), avocados (2.7 mg per avocado), and hazelnuts (4.3 mg per ounce).
What’s Too Much – 1,000 mg.
Not to be confused with its mineral chum potassium (which is also noted as a “K” on the periodic table), this essential fat-soluble vitamin is a must for normal wound healing and bone development. K is for “koagulation,” the German word for coagulation, or clotting. While blood clots sound menacing, consider the importance of scabs, which are simply patches of clotted blood to protect cuts and scrapes.
Ladies taking birth control pills should be careful with overconsumption of vitamin K, as a combination of the birth control pill and excess Vitamin K could put you at risk for unwanted clots. Deficiencies in vitamin K include easy bruisability, bleeding, nosebleeds, and heavy menstrual periods.
What You Need – Men = 120 mcg; Women = 90 mcg (AI) How to Get It: Attain the RDA with cooked broccoli (220 mcg per cup), kale (547 mcg per cup), parsley (246 mcg per ¼ cup), and Swiss chard (299 mcg per cup).
What’s Too Much – Not determined
Zippity doo dah for zinc, a trace element that is a building block for enzymes, proteins, and cells. It is also responsible for freeing Vitamin A from its holding tank, the liver, through its enzymatic activity. But that’s not all for the last on this list: zinc also plays a role in boosting the immune system, mediating senses such as taste and smell, and wound healing. Zinc toxicity is rare, but zinc deficiency (most commonly occurring in the developing world) may lead to delays in growth and development, rough skin, cognitive impairment, a weakened immune system (leading in increased susceptibility of infectious diseases, particularly in kids), and more.
What You Need – Men = 11 mg; Women = 8 mg How to Get It: Zinc can be zeroed in on in oysters (76.3 mg per 6 oysters), beef (6 mg per 3 ounces), turkey (3.8 mg per 3 ounces), milk (1.8 mg per cup), and cashews (1.6 mg per ounce). Vegetarians and vegans take note: zinc is less easily absorbed from vegetables so consider supplements or munching on more zinc rich foods.
What’s Too Much – 40 mg
Last but not least, don’t forget your daily dose of Vitamin G!