All About Vitamins & Minerals

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by Apameh Bashar RD, CNSD

It’s that time of year where you find yourself exhausted from running around shopping for great deals, over eating from all of your holiday parties and sick due to the cold weather and travelling. You have made a New Year’s Resolution to lose weight and get healthy, but you are busy and you skip breakfast, eat a fast-food fried lunch and by dinner, you are famished. This time of year may not be the healthiest for you, but by eating certain foods you can boost your energy and immune system. The following is a chart that shows the USDA’s recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body in peak condition. If you find yourself lacking in a particular area of health, you can now find what foods to eat to get you back on track. And just in time for the new year!

Vitamins Purpose Daily Amount


Food Sources
Vitamin A Vision & cell growth 900 mcg-men

700 mcg – women

Liver & giblets; 1 sweet potato, 1/2 cup each of carrots, spinach, or turnip greens; cantaloupe
Vitamin B6 Maintains the nervous system & aids in the processing of amino acids 1.3-1.7 mg – men

1.3-1.5 mg -women

Meat, fish, poultry; whole grains & cereals; leafy vegetables, potatoes, soybeans.
Vitamin B12 Maintains the nervous system & aids in the processing of amino acids 2.4 mcg Animal products.
Vitamin C Helps the body manufacture collagen in blood vessels, bones, cartilage & muscle. 90 mcg-men

75 mcg- women

Fruits such as guava, oranges, kiwi, strawberries, cantaloupe, papaya, pineapple & mango. Vegetables such as red & green peppers, broccolli, sweet potatoes and cauliflower.
Vitamin D Aids in calcium absorption needed for maintaining bones & teeth & maintains nerves & muscles. 800 IU Fortified milk & butter; egg yolks; fatty fish; fish oil.
Vitamin E Antioxidant that fights damage to the body’s cells. 15 mg Nuts & seeds; turnip greens; peanut butter; tomatoes.
Vitamin K Assists in blood clotting. 120 mcg- men

90 mcg-women

Spinach, cabbage, leafy greens; pork & liver; green tea.

(Vitamin B3)

Helps in the formation of red blood cells & the processing of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats for energy. 16 mg – men

13 mg – women

Lean meats, poultry, seafood; milk & eggs; legumes; fortified breads & cereals.

(Vitamin B2)

Helps in the processing of carbohydrates, proteins, & fats for energy & is important in the production of certain hormones. 1.3 mg – men

1.1 mg – women

Fortified cereals & grains; lean meats & poultry; milk & other dairy products; raw mushrooms.
Thiamin (Vitamin B1) Helps in the processing of carbohydrates, proteins, & fats for energy. 1.2 mg – men

1.1 mg – women

Meats, fish, dairy, legumes, grains, orange juice, tomato juice.
Minerals Purpose Daily Amount


Food Sources
Calcium Builds & maintains bone mass 1,136 mg 8 oz. of nonfat or low-fat yogurt; 2 oz. of nonfat or low-fat cheese; 1 cup of low-fat or skim milk; 1/2 cup of soybeans or spinach; 1 packet of oatmeal; seafood such as sardines, pink salmon & ocean perch.
Potassium Keeps blood pressure at healthy levels. 4,044 mg Sweet & regular potatoes; 1/2 cup of white beans, soybeans, kidney beans or lima beans; 8 oz. of nonfat or low-fat yogurt; 1 cup of skim or low-fat milk; bananas, cantaloupe, honeydew melons; fish (halibut, rockfish or cod); tomatoes.
Magnesium Needed for energy production & to keep the muscles, heart & arteries working properly 380 mg Vegetables; bran cereal; beans; 1/2 cup of tofu; 1/2 cup of brown rice; 1 oz. of nuts.
Folate/Folic Acid Needed for cell growth & maintenance. 400 mcg Fortified cereals; beef liver; cowpeas; spinach, asparagus, green peas, turnip greens; bananas, papaya, cantaloupe.
Iodine Regulates growth, metabolism, & metabolism through the thyroid 150 mcg Iodized salt; seafood.
Iron Needed to create hemoglobin, the substance that carries oxygen throughout the boy. Regulates energy & skin tone. 8 mg – men

8-18 mg – women

Liver, meats, seafood; eggs; legumes; fortified cereals & whole grains; dried fruits, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds.
Phosphorous Important in the formation of cells, bones and teeth. 700 mg Meat, poultry & fish; egg yolks; legumes; dairy products; soft drinks.
Selenium Works in conjunction with Vitamin E to protect cells from oxidative damage. 55 mcg Whole grains and nuts; Swiss chard, onions, garlic; poultry, seafood & meats.
Zinc Involved in taste perception, wound healing & development of the fetus. 11 mg – men

8 mg – women

Oysters, meat; yogurt, eggs & milk; wheat germ & nuts.