Vitamins and Minerals: Sources and What They Do



Water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins are nutrients your body needs in your diet for you to stay healthy.  For optimal health, it is important to get the vitamins and minerals your body needs—either through a healthy diet, health supplements, or both. Your body requires two kinds of vitamins: fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K) and water soluble vitamins (B-complex and C).

Water soluble vitamins, which are highly soluble, require daily replenishment in your body. Fat soluble vitamins, which are also essential for your health and stored in your liver, do not need to be replaced every day.

There is a misconception out there that people should avoid fat all together, this is false.  We NEED fat in our diet for a variety reasons, as our digestion needs it to work properly.  Also, certain vitamins (A, D, E, and K) require fat for our system.  Without fat, these vitamins would be useless.  The key is to choose the healthier fats, such as butter or light butter, safflower, sunflower, or coconut oils, and extra virgin olive oil.


Examples of Good Food Sources

What It

Recommended Daily Amount
(RDA) or Adequate


(Vitamin B complex)

Milk, liver, eggs, peanuts

Plays a key role in the production of cells and neurotransmitters

Men: 550 mg/dayWomen: 425 mg/day

Pregnant women: 450 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 550 mg/day


Bran cereal, peas, lentils, black beans, fruits, vegetables

Helps with digestion and the maintenance of blood sugar levels; reduces the risk of heart disease

Men 19-50: 38 gm/dayMen 51+: 30 gm/day

Women 19-50: 25 gm/day

Women 51+: 21 gm/day

Pregnant women: 28 gm/day

Breastfeeding women: 29 gm/day

Folic Acid     (Folate)

Dark, leafy vegetables; enriched and whole grain breads; fortified cereals; tomato juice; green beans, broccoli; spinach; asparagus; okra; black-eyed peas; lentils; navy; pinto and garbanzo beans

Key for the development of cells, protein metabolism and heart health; in pregnant women, helps prevent birth defects

Adults: 400 mcg/dayPregnant women: 600 mcg/day

Breastfeeding women: 500 mcg/day

Vitamin A    (Retinol)

Sweet potato with peel, carrots, spinach, fortified cereals, mango, broccoli, butternut squash, tomato juice, pumpkin, liver

Necessary for normal vision, immune function, reproduction, skin bone and tooth growth

Men: 900 mcg/dayWomen: 700 mcg/day

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Whole grain, enriched, fortified products; bread; cereals; spinach; green peas, tomato juice, watermelon, sunflower seeds, lean ham, lean pork chops

Allows the body to process carbohydrates and some protein.  Supports energy metabolism and nerve function

Men: 1.2 mg/dayWomen: 1.1 mg/day

Pregnant/breastfeeding: 1.4 mg/day

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Milk, bread products, fortified cereals, spinach, broccoli, mushrooms, eggs, liver, oysters, clams

Key in metabolism and the conversion of food into energy; helps produce red blood cells; helps with normal vision and skin health

Men: 1.3 mg/dayWomen: 1.1 mg/day

Pregnant Women: 1.4 mg/day

Breastfeeding Women: 1.6 mg/day

Vitamin B3      (Niacin)

Meat, fish, poultry, enriched and whole grain breads, fortified cereals, spinach, potatoes, tomato juice, liver, shrimp

Assists in digestion and the conversion of food into energy; important in the production of cholesterol; nervous system

Men: 16 mg/dayWomen: 14 mg/day

Pregnant Women: 18 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 17 mg/day

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)

Chicken, beef, potatoes, oats, cereals, tomatoes

Important in fatty acid metabolism

Adults: 5 mg/dayPregnant women: 6 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 7 mg/day


Examples of Good Food Sources

What It

Recommended Daily Amount
(RDA) or Adequate

Vitamin B6

Fortified cereals, fortified, organ meats, bananas, watermelon, tomato juice, broccoli, spinach, acorn squash, potatoes, white rice, chicken breast

Important for the nervous system; helps the body metabolize proteins and suga; amino acid and fatty acid metabolism; red blood cell production

Men age 19-50: 1.3 mg/dayMen age 51+:1.7 mg/day

Women 19-50: 1.3 mg/day

Women 51+: 1.5 mg/day

Pregnant women: 1.9 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 2 mg/day

Vitamin B7      (Biotin)

Liver, fruits, meats

Helps with the synthesis of fats, glycogen and amino acids

Adults: 30 mcg/dayBreastfeeding women: 35 mcg/day

Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Fish, poultry, meat, fortified cereals, shellfish, eggs

Important in the production of red blood cells, helps break down fatty acids and amino acids, supports nerve cell maintenance

Adults: 2.4 mcg/dayPregnant women: 2.6 mcg/day

Breastfeeding women: 2.8 mcg/day

Vitamin C

Red and green peppers, kiwis, oranges, strawberries, broccoli, spinach, snow peas, tomato juice, mango, grapefruit juice

Antioxidant that protects against cell damage, boosts the immune system, forms collagen in the body, helps iron absorption

Men: 90 mg/dayWomen: 75 mg/day

Pregnant women: 85 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 120 mg/day

Vitamin D (Calciferol)

Fish liver oils, fatty fish, fortified milk products, fortified cereals; sunlight exposure, egg yolk, liver

Crucial in metabolizing calcium for healthy bones

Adults 18-50: 5 mcg/dayAdults 51-70: 10 mcg/day

Adults 70+: 15 mcg/day

Pregnant/breastfeeding: 5 mcg/day

Vitamin E       (alpha-tocopherol)

Fortified cereals, sunflower seeds, almonds, peanut butter, vegetable oils, wheat germ, tofu, avocado, sweet potatoes, shrimp, cod

Antioxidant that protects cells against damage; regulation of oxidation reactions; supports cell membrane stabilization

Adults (including pregnant women): 15 mg/dayBreastfeeding women: 19 mg/day

Vitamin K

Green vegetables like spinach, collards, and broccoli; brussel sprouts; cabbage

Important in blood clotting and bone health

Men: 120 mcg/dayWomen (including pregnant and breastfeeding): 90 mcg/day


Examples of Good Food Sources

What It

Recommended Daily Amount
(RDA) or Adequate


Milk, yogurt, hard cheeses, fortified cereals, spinach

Essential for bone growth and strength, blood clotting, muscle contraction, and the transmission of nerve signals

Adults 19-50:1,000 mg/dayAdults 51+: 1,200 mg/day


salt, soy sauce, milk, eggs, meats

maintains fluid and electrolyte balance, aids in digestion

Men:  750 mgWomen:  750 mg

Child 7-10: 600 mg

Infants: 180-300 mg


Meats, poultry, fish, some cereals, vegetable oils, liver, brewer’s yeast, whole grains, cheese, nuts

Helps control blood sugar levels

Men 19-50: 35 mcg/dayMen 51: 30 mcg/day

Women 19-50: 25 mcg/day

Women 51+: 20 mcg/day

Pregnant women: 30 mcg/day

Breastfeeding women: 45 mcg/day


Seafood, nuts, seeds, wheat bran cereals, whole grains, water

Important in absorption and utilization of iron; supports formation of hemoglobin and several enzymes

Adults: 900 mcg/dayPregnant women: 1,000 mcg/day

Breastfeeding women: 1300 mcg/day


Fluoridated water, some sea fish, some toothpaste and mouth rinses, tea

Prevents the formation of tooth cavities and stimulates the growth of bone

Men: 4 mg/dayWomen (including pregnant and breastfeeding):3 mg/day


Iodized salt, seafood, bread, milk, cheese

Component of thyroid hormones that help regulate growth, development and metabolic rate

Adults: 150 mcg/dayPregnant women: 220 mcg/day

Breastfeeding women: 290 mcg/day


Fortified cereals, beans, lentils, beef, eggs

Key component of red blood cells and many enzymes

Men: 8 mg/dayWomen 19-50: 18 mg/day

Women 51+: 8 mg/day

Pregnant women: 27 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 9 mg/day


Green leafy vegetables, Brazil nuts, almonds, soybeans, halibut, quinoa

Helps with heart rhythm, muscle and nerve function, bone strength

Men 19-30: 400 mg/dayMen 31+: 420 mg/day

Women 19-30: 310 mg/day

Women 31+: 320 mg/day

Pregnant women: 350-360 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 310-320 mg/day


Nuts, beans and other legumes, tea, whole grains

Important in forming bones and some enzymes

Men: 2.3 mg/dayWomen: 1.8 mg/day

Pregnant women: 2.0 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 2.6 mg/day


Legumes, grains, nuts

Key in the production of some enzymes

Adults: 45 mcg/dayPregnant/breastfeeding women: 50 mcg/day


Examples of Good Food Sources

What It

Recommended Daily Amount
(RDA) or Adequate


Milk and other dairy products, peas, meat, eggs, some cereals and breads

Allows cells to function normally; helps the body produce energy; key in bone growth; maintains acid-base balance

Adults: 700 mg/day


Sweet potato, bananas, yogurt, yellowfin tuna, soybeans

Important in maintaining normal fluid balance; helps control blood pressure; reduces risk of kidney stones

Adults: 4700 mg per dayBreastfeeding women: 5100 mg/day


Organ meats, seafood, some plants (if grown in soil with selenium) Brazil nuts, grains.

Protects cells from damage; regulates thyroid hormone; antioxidant; works with vitamin E to protect body from oxidation

Adults: 55 mcg/dayPregnant women: 60 mcg/day

Breastfeeding women: 70 mcg/day


Foods to which sodium chloride (salt) has been added, like salted meats, nuts, butter, and a vast number of processed foods

Important for fluid balance

Adults age 19-50: 1500 mg/dayAdults age 51-70: 1300 mg/day

Adults 71+: 1200 mg/day


Red meats, some seafood, fortified cereals, spinach, broccoli, green peas, green beans, tomato juice, lentils, oysters, shrimp, crab, dark turkey meat, lean ham, lean ground beef, lean sirloin steak, plain yogurt, swiss cheese, tofu, ricotta cheese

Supports the body’s immunity and nerve function; important in reproduction; a part of many enzymes, involved in genetic material and proteins, transports vitamin A, taste perception, wound healing, sperm production and normal development of the fetus

Men: 11 mg/dayWomen: 8 mg/day

Pregnant women: 11 mg/day

Breastfeeding women: 12 mg/day

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