By Andrew Head, Georgia Southern Dietetic Intern
Vitamins and minerals By Andrew Head, Georgia Southern Dietetic Intern
What Are Vitamins? Vitamins are substances that are found naturally in our bodies or in the food we eat. They are necessary, and thus very important, for proper functioning and development of our bodies in every stage of life.
Categories of Vitamins
Water soluble- Vitamins C and all B vitamins These vitamins tend not to be as toxic as fat soluble ones because they are excreted through our urine and are not stored in the body. The exception is B-12 because it is stored in the liver. Fat soluble- Vitamins A, D, E, K These vitamins are more toxic because they are stored in the body throughout the body fat and liver and thus excreted at a much slower rate.
Vitamin A RDA (recommended daily allowance)- 900 ug/day
UL (upper limit) ug/day Function- Required for normal vision, immune function, tissue repair and healthy skin, and development of cells Found in liver, dairy products, fish, darkly colored fruits, leafy vegetables, and orange colored fruits and vegetables.
Vitamin D RDA- 600-800 ug/day UL- 4000 ug/day
Function- Helps maintain minerals such as calcium and phosphorus and thus maintains good bone health Found in Fish liver oils, fatty fish, egg yolk, fortified dairy products, fortified juices, and fortified cereals. Also, our body makes it when sunlight is directly on our skin. But, it is not always a reliable source, and it is recommended to get it from your diet as well.
Vitamin E RDA- 15 mg/day UL- 1000 mg/day
Function- Acts as an antioxidant by protecting cells from damage Found in Vegetable oils, unprocessed cereal grains, nuts, fruits, vegetables, meats.
Vitamin K RDA- 120 ug/day for men, 90 ug/day for women
UL- Not determinable; source of intake should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake. Function- Necessary for normal blood clotting and protein synthesis Found in green vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, and plant oils and margarine
Vitamin C or Ascorbic Acid
RDA- 90 mg/day for men, 75 mg/day for women UL mg/day Function- It is necessary for normal tissue health, healthy bones, teeth, gums, and blood vessels. It also helps us absorb iron. Found in citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwi, guava, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, spinach, and many other fruits and vegetables
Vitamin B-9 or Folate or Folic Acid
RDA- 400 mg/day UL mg/day Function- prevents megaloblastic anemia and certain neural tube defects, works to make red blood cells and other important cells in our body Found in liver, dried beans, green leafy vegetables, asparagus, orange juice, and fortified bread, rice, and cereals
Vitamin B-3 or Niacin RDA- 400 mg/day UL- 1000 mg/day
Function- Necessary for nerve function and helping the body make energy out of our food Found in red meat, poultry, fish, fortified hot and cold cereals, and peanuts
Vitamin B-5 or Pantothenic Acid
RDA- 5 mg/day UL- Non determinable; source of intake should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake. Function- Necessary to convert our food to energy as well as making red blood cells Found in Chicken, beef, potatoes, oats, cereals, tomato products, liver, kidney, yeast, egg yolk, broccoli, whole grains.
Vitamin B-2 or Riboflavin
RDA- 1.3 mg/day for men, 1.1 mg/day for women UL- Non determinable; source of intake should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake. Function- Necessary for the production of red blood cells and also converting our food to energy Found in meat, eggs, legumes (like peas and lentils), nuts, dairy products, green leafy vegetables, broccoli, asparagus, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B-1or Thiamin RDA- 1.2 mg/day for men, 1.1 mg/day for women
UL- Non determinable; source of intake should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake. Function- Necessary to convert our food to energy and for proper functioning of the muscles, heart, and nerves Found in fortified breads, cereals, and pasta, also in lean meats, dried beans, soy foods, and whole grains
Vitamin B-6 or Pyridoxine
RDA- 1.7 mg/day for men, 1.5 mg/day for women UL-100 mg/day Function- Important for normal brain and nerve function as well as making red blood cells and converting food to energy for our cells Found in potatoes, bananas, beans, seeds, nuts, red meat, poultry, fish, eggs, spinach, and fortified cereals.
Vitamin B-12 or Cobalamin
RDA- 2.4 mg/day UL- Non determinable; source of intake should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake. Function- Prevents megaloblastic anemia, helps make red blood cells, and is important for nerve cell function Found in fish, red meat, poultry, milk, cheese, eggs, and added to some breakfast cereals
What are Minerals? Minerals are substances that are not found naturally in our bodies. So, we must get them from the food we eat. Even though we need small amounts of each mineral, they are necessary for our bodies to work properly and optimally.
Calcium RDA- 1200 mg/day UL-2000 mg/day
Function- Necessary for strong teeth and bones, important for proper muscle contraction and nerve function Found in milk, yogurt, cheese, cottage cheese, broccoli and dark green, leafy vegetables
Potassium Function- helps with heart, muscle, and nervous system function and also helps maintain the proper balance of water in our body Found in broccoli, green leafy vegetables, citrus fruits, bananas, dried fruits, and legumes No RDA or UL established
Iron RDA- 8 mg/day UL-45 mg/day
Function- helps red blood cells carry oxygen to all parts of the body, important for healthy blood, prevents certain anemias Found in red meat, pork, fish and shellfish, poultry, lentils, beans and soy foods, green leafy vegetables, and some fortified flours, cereals, and grain products
Phosphorus RDA- 700 mg/day UL- 4000 mg/day
Function- forms healthy bones and teeth, important for our body’s energy consumption Found mainly in dairy products, meat, and fish
Copper RDA- 900 ug/day UL-10,000 mg/day
Function- Necessary for to work with iron for nerve function and creating red blood cells among other supporting roles in our body Found in seafood, nuts, seeds, wheat bran cereals, whole grains, cocoa, dark leafy greens, asparagus, and legumes
Fluoride RDA- 4 mg/day for men, 3 mg/day for women UL-10 mg/day
Function- important for healthy teeth and preventing dental cavities Found in fluorinated water, teas, and dental products
Magnesium RDA- 420 mg/day for men, 320 mg/day for women
UL- Non determinable; source of intake should be from food only to prevent high levels of intake. Function- important for muscle and nerve function Found in whole grains, nuts and seeds, green leafy vegetables, potatoes, beans, avocados, bananas, milk, and chocolate
Zinc RDA- 11 mg/day for men, 8mg/day for women UL- 40 mg/day
Function- important for normal growth, strong immunity, and wound healing Found in red meat, poultry, oysters and other seafood, nuts, beans, dairy products, whole grains, and fortified breakfast cereals
References guidance/dietary-reference-intakes/dri-tables- and-application-reports tamins_minerals.html
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