Nutrition 101 – Vitamins and Minerals

Vitamins and minerals are key  nutritional components, yet their function and importance for the body’s metabolic process are generally not well understood. Here we shed some light on  all essential vitamins and minerals, listed in alphabetic and numerical order,  with a brief explanation of their role and recommended daily allowance. It will be worth your time to read the labels of your favorite foods and get a feel for the vitamins and minerals that these foods contain.

Woman with fruits full of vitamins and mineralsFat Soluble Vitamin (that remain in the body)

 

Vitamin A

Also called carotenoids, this vitamin separates into five different types that convert into Vitamin A during the metabolic process. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of all Vitamin A types combined is 700 micrograms for women and 900 micrograms for men. No RDA’s have been determined yet for the following individual types:

  • Astaxanthin: Fights cancer and free radicals. Natural sources:  Salmon, lobster and shrimp. A minimum. No RDA established.
  • Beta carotene: Helps with  in cancer prevention. Derived from green yellow or orange fruits or vegetables (like carrots). No RDA established.
  • Lutein: Protects against eye disorders, especially macular degeneration. Sourced from green fruits/vegetables, especially leafy greens like spinach or lettuce.
  • Lycopene: May reduce risk of cancer, heart disease and more. Natural sources: Tomatoes cooked in oil, watermelon. No RDA established.
  • Zeaxanthin: Antioxidant necessary for eye health. Sourced from yellow corn, mangoes, oranges and egg yolks. No RDA established.

Vitamin D

Is critical for bone and tooth health. It may help prevent autoimmune diseases and some cancers. It is typically derived from cod liver oil, fatty fish, egg yolks and fortified dairy. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is 15 micrograms. For people 71 years of age and older the RDA is 20 micrograms.

Vitamin E

Also called d-alpha tocopherol and vitamin E succinate. It acts as an antioxidant that protects against Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, and heart disease. It is sourced from wheat germ, almonds and other nuts as well as cold-pressed vegetable oils. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin E is 15 milligrams (mg).

Vitamin K

It helps with blood clotting, bone formation and repair. It is derived from leafy and green vegetables, green tea and alfalfa. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin K is 90 micrograms for women and 120 micrograms for men.

Woman with pan flipping vitamins and mineralsWater- Soluble Vitamins (get flushed out)

B1

Otherwise known as thiamine. It enhances brain function and energy. It can be found in brown rice, dairy, egg yolks, legumes and soy. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of B1 is 1.1 mg for women and 1.2 mg for men.

B2

Otherwise known as riboflavin. It is essential for energy and immune support. It is sourced from cheese, eggs, fish, poultry, spinach, yogurt. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of B2 is 1.1 mg for women and 1.3 mg for men.

B3

Otherwise known as niacin. It aids healthy circulation and nerves as well as lowers cholesterol. It can be found in brewer’s yeast, broccoli, carrots, eggs, fish, nuts and wheat germ. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of B3 is 14 mg for women and 16 mg for men.

B5

Otherwise known as pantothenic acid. It aids the body by fighting stress and enhancing stamina. It can be found in whole wheat, eggs, legumes and peas. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of B5 is 5mg.

B6

The body needs B6 for growth and maintenance. It can also be used to reduce high levels of homocysteine. It is sourced from bananas, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, carrots, chicken, eggs, fish, oatmeal and whole-grain cereals.

B9

Otherwise known as Folic Acid or Folate. It is important in genetic, metabolic and nervouse system health. It can also be used to reduce the risk of some birth defects. It can be sourced from leafy greens, liver, asparagus and brewer’s yeast. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of B9 is 400 micrograms. For women during pregnancy, however, the RDA is 600 micrograms.

B12

Is needed for blood formation and nervous system health. It can be derived from kidneys. Liver, clams, crab, fish, eggs and dairy. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of B12 is 2.4 micrograms.

Biotin

Promotes healthy hair, nails and skin. It can be found in brewer’s yeast, dairy, fish, meat and rice bran. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Biotin is 30 micrograms.

Choline

This is not strictly water soluble. It does, however, help with the transmission of nerve impulses. Additionally, it supports brain function and fat metabolism. It derives from egg yolks, legumes, meat and whole grains. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Choline is 425mg for women and 550 for men.

Vitamin C

Other wise known as ascorbic acid. It acts as an antioxidant for immune, eye and skin health. It is derived from berries, citrus fruits and leafy greens. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Vitamin C is 75mg for women and 90mg for men.

Spoon with mineral supplementsImportant Minerals (may or may not remain in the body)

Boron

It is necessary for bone building, cellular energy and enzyme function. It stems from apples, carrots, leafy greens, raw nuts and whole grains. There is no established RDA for Boron.

Calcium

This is essential for strong bones, teeth and healthy gums. It also helps to balance the amount of magnesium in your body. It can be found in dairy foods (and fortified substitutes), leafy greens and sardines. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Calcium is 1,000mg. For women over the age of 51, the RDA is 1,200mg and for men older than 71 the RDA is 1,200mg.

Chromium

This helps glucose metabolize, in turn enhancing the amount of energy in your body. It can be found in brewer’s yeast, brown rice, meat and whole grains. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Chromium is 25 micrograms for women and 35 micrograms for men.

Copper

It helps to build blood cells, bone, and collagen. It is sourced from meat, nuts, seafood, soybeans and whole grains. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of copper is 900 micrograms.

Iron

Is essential to blood cell production, growth, immune health and energy. It can be found in eggs, fish, liver, meat, leaf greens and whole grains. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Iron is 18mg for women. For women over the age of 50, however the RDA is 8mg. For men, the RDA is always 8mg.

Manganese

Balances calcium and is needed for bone and cardiovascular health. It is derived from dairy, fish, leafy greens, meat, molasses, seafood, seeds, and soybeans. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Manganese is 1.8 mg for women and 2.3 mg for men.

Molybdenum

It activates enzymes and promotes cell function. It can be sourced from legumes, beef liver, cereal grains, dark leafy greens and peas. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Molybdenum is 45 micrograms.

Potassium

This protects against high blood pressure. It can be found in fruits, dairy, fish and whole grains. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Potassium is 4.7 grams.

Selenium

This is an anticancer antioxidant. It works best alongside vitamin E. It can be sourced from brazil nuts, brewer’s yeast, brown rice, meat, seafood and whole grains. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Selenium is 55 micrograms.

Silicon

This is needed for the formation of collagen to be used for growing bones and connective tissue. It can be found in alfalfa, bell pepper, brown rice, root vegetables and soy. There has been no RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) recorded.

Vanadium

This is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. It can also be used to improve insulin usage in the body. It can be sourced from dill, fish, meat, olives, some vegetable oils and whole grains. There has been no RDA (Recommended Daily Amount) determined.

Zinc

This plays an important role in immune and reproductive health. It can be sourced from eggs, legumes, seafood and whole grains. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of Zinc is 8mg for women and 11mg for men.