Nutrients All Reference Guide

Functions of Vitamins and Minerals

VITAMIN A: Promotes skeletal growth, normal tooth structure, healthy mucous membranes, healthy skin, eyes and hair; essential for night vision. NATURAL SOURCES: Fish liver oils, liver, carrots, green and yellow vegetables, dairy products.

VITAMIN D: Promotes bone and tooth development and normal growth; aids utilization of phosphorus and calcium; maintains nervous system and    heart action; prevents rickets.

VITAMIN E: Protects body’s store of Vitamin A, tissues and fat from destructive oxidation, and breakdown of red corpuscles; strengthens capillary walls; regulates menstrual rhythm; prevents loss of other vitamins; aids blood flow to heart; lowers blood cholesterol and fatty acids; vital to cell health; regulates protein and calcium metabolism. NATURAL SOURCES: Soybeans, vegetable oils, broccoli, brussels sprouts, leafy greens, enriched flour, whole wheat, wheat germ, whole grain cereals, eggs.

VITAMIN C: Essential for the formation of collagen; needed for absorption of iron, some proteins and folic acid; prevents oxidation of other vitamins; aids in metabolism of amino acids and calcium; stops internal bleeding; strengthens blood vessels maintains hard bones and teeth; promotes stamina; holds body cells together prevents infections, colds, fatigue and stress; reduces allergies; heals wounds and burns. NATURAL SOURCES: Citrus fruits, berries, green and leafy vegetables, tomatoes, cauliflower, potatoes, sweet potatoes.

NIACIN: (as Niacinamide): Aids normal functioning of tissues, particularly skin, gastrointestinal tract and nervous system; used with other vitamins in converting carbohydrates to energy.NATURAL SOURCES: Liver, lean meat, whole wheat, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, fish, eggs, roasted peanuts, poultry, sesame seeds, nuts.

VITAMIN B-6: (Pyridoxine HCl) Aids metabolism of protein carbohydrates and fats; controls cholesterol level; aids chemical balance between blood and tissue; prevents water retention; builds hemoglobin. NATURAL SOURCES: Brewer’s yeast, wheat bran, wheat germ, organ meats, beef, avocados, bananas, milk, eggs.

VITAMIN B-1: (Thiamine): Helps convert sugar and starches into energy; promotes digestion, strong heart muscle, child growth; prevents fatigue, fat deposits in arteries. NATURAL SOURCES: Whole wheat, dried yeast, oatmeal, peanuts, pork, bran, enriched rice, sunflower seeds, soybean sprouts.

VITAMIN B-2: (Riboflavin): Aids in releasing energy to body cells; enables utilization of fats, proteins and sugars. NATURAL SOURCES: Dairy products, liver, kidney, yeast, leafy greens, fish, eggs.

VITAMIN B-12: Promotes utilization of protein, fats and carbohydrates; essential for formation of red blood cells; builds nucleic acid; prevents pernicious anemia; helps nervous system.NATURAL SOURCES: Liver, beef, pork, eggs, dairy products, shellfish.

FOLIC ACID: Essential for function of Vitamins A, D, E, and K, forms red blood cells and nucleic acid; improves circulation; aids digestion of proteins. May help prevent neuro tube defects (pina bifida), and some cancers. Reduces the risk of coronary heart disease. NATURAL SOURCES: Dark-green leafy vegetables, carrots, liver, eggs, soybeans, avocados, oranges, beans whole wheat.

CALCIUM: Builds bones and teeth; aids in proper function of muscles, heart, nerves, and iron utilization; helps blood coagulation; regulates the passage of nutrients in and out of cells; relieves pain and cramps; eases insomnia. NATURAL SOURCES: Dairy products, soybeans, sunflower seeds, legumes, sardines.

MAGNESIUM: Reduces blood cholesterol; forms hard tooth enamel and fights tooth decay; aids in converting blood sugar into energy; helps regulate body temperature; aids nerve function and bone growth; helps utilize Vitamins B, C, E; promotes absorption and metabolism of other minerals; activates enzymes for metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids; prevents calcium deposits in the bladder, heart attacks, depression, polio. NATURAL RESOURCES: Nuts, figs, seeds, dark-green vegetables, wheat bran, avocados, bananas.

IRON: Present in all cells; one of the constituents of hemoglobin which carries oxygen to the tissues by blood circulation. NATURAL RESOURCES: Liver, meat, raw clams, oysters, oatmeal, nuts, beans, wheat germ.

IODINE: Aids thyroid gland and prevents goiter; helps burn fat; converts carotene into Vitamin A; aids absorption of carbohydrates from small intestine; promotes growth; regulates energy production; maintains hair, nails skin and teeth. NATURAL SOURCES: Kelp, seafood, vegetables.

COPPER: Facilitates iron absorption; synthesizes enzymes and skin pigments; promotes protein metabolism; aids Vitamin C oxidation; produces RNA; forms hemoglobin, red blood cells, and hair color. NATURAL SOURCES: Shrimp, beef liver, whole wheat, prunes, nuts, raw oysters.

ZINC: Eliminates cholesterol deposits; aids in absorption of B-Vitamins, manufacture of enzymes and insulin, and metabolism of carbohydrates; essential for growth; aids healing essential for proper function of prostate gland; prevents prostate cancer and sterility; keeps hair glossy and smooth. NATURAL RESOURCES: Eggs, cheese, beef, pork, wheat germ, brewer’s yeast, pumpkin seeds, popcorn.

SODIUM FLUORIDE: Acts systemically to strengthen developing teeth. For the prevention of dental caries by increasing tooth resistance to acid dissolution. Promotes remineralization and inhibits the cariogenic microbial process.

Statements on this page have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Listing of vitamins

Updated: August 14, 2017

Published: June, 2009

The list of vitamins and minerals below can give you an understanding of how particular vitamins and minerals work in your body, how much of each nutrient you need every day, and what types of food to eat to ensure that you are getting an adequate supply. The recommendations in this vitamins chart are based largely on guidelines from the Institute of Medicine. Recommended amounts may be expressed in milligrams (mg), micrograms (mcg), or international units (IU), depending on the nutrient. Unless specified, values represent those for adults ages 19 and older.


RECOMMENDED AMOUNT (daily RDA* or daily AI**)
UPPER LIMIT (UL) per day
RETINOIDS AND CAROTENE (vitamin A; includes retinol, retinal, retinyl esters, and retinoic acid and are also referred to as “preformed” vitamin A. Beta carotene can easily be converted to vitamin A as needed.)
Essential for vision Lycopene may lower prostate cancer risk. Keeps tissues and skin healthy. Plays an important role in bone growth and in the immune system. Diets rich in the carotenoids alpha carotene and lycopene seem to lower lung cancer risk. Carotenoids act as antioxidants. Foods rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin may protect against cataracts
M: 900 mcg (3,000 IU)W: 700 mcg (2,333 IU)Some supplements report vitamin A in international units (IU’s).
3,000 mcg (about 10,000 IU)
Sources of retinoids:beef liver, eggs, shrimp, fish, fortified milk, butter, cheddar cheese, Swiss cheese
Sources of beta carotene:sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, squash, spinach, mangoes, turnip greens
Many people get too much preformed vitamin A from food and supplements. Large amounts of supplemental vitamin A (but not beta carotene) can be harmful to bones.
THIAMIN (vitamin B1)
Helps convert food into energy. Needed for healthy skin, hair, muscles, and brain and is critical for nerve function.
M: 1.2 mg, W: 1.1 mg
Not known
Pork chops, brown rice, ham, soymilk, watermelons, acorn squash
Most nutritious foods have some thiamin.
RIBOFLAVIN(vitamin B2)
Helps convert food into energy. Needed for healthy skin, hair, blood, and brain
M: 1.3 mg, W: 1.1 mg
Not known
Milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, meats, green leafy vegetables, whole and enriched grains and cereals.
Most Americans get enough of this nutrient.
NIACIN (vitamin B3, nicotinic acid)
Helps convert food into energy. Essential for healthy skin, blood cells, brain, and nervous system
M: 16 mg, W: 14 mg
35 mg
Meat, poultry, fish, fortified and whole grains, mushrooms, potatoes, peanut butter
Niacin occurs naturally in food and can also be made by your body from the amino acid tryptophan, with the help of B6.
Helps convert food into energy. Helps make lipids (fats), neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin
M: 5 mg, W: 5 mg
Not known
Wide variety of nutritious foods, including chicken, egg yolk, whole grains, broccoli, mushrooms, avocados, tomato products
Deficiency causes burning feet and other neurologic symptoms.
PYRIDOXINE (vitamin B6, pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine)
Aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may reduce the risk of heart diseaseHelps convert tryptophan to niacin and serotonin, a neurotransmitter that plays key roles in sleep, appetite, and moods. Helps make red blood cells Influences cognitive abilities and immune function
31–50 years old: M: 1.3 mg, W: 1.3 mg; 51+ years old: M: 1.7 mg, W: 1.5 mg
100 mg
Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, tofu and other soy products, potatoes, noncitrus fruits such as bananas and watermelons
Many people don’t get enough of this nutrient.
COBALAMIN (vitamin B12)
Aids in lowering homocysteine levels and may lower the risk of heart disease. Assists in making new cells and breaking down some fatty acids and amino acids. Protects nerve cells and encourages their normal growth Helps make red blood cells and DNA
M: 2.4 mcg, W: 2.4 mcg
Not known
Meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified soymilk
Some people, particularly older adults, are deficient in vitamin B12 because they have trouble absorbing this vitamin from food. Those on a vegan or vegetarian diet often don’t get enough B12as it’s mostly found in animal products. They may need to take supplements. A lack of vitamin B12 can cause memory loss, dementia, and numbness in the arms and legs.
Helps convert food into energy and synthesize glucose. Helps make and break down some fatty acids. Needed for healthy bones and hair
M: 30 mcg, W: 30 mcg
Not known
Many foods, including whole grains, organ meats, egg yolks, soybeans, and fish
Some is made by bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract. However, it’s not clear how much of this the body absorbs.
Foods rich in vitamin C may lower the risk for some cancers, including those of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and breast. Long-term use of supplemental vitamin C may protect against cataracts. Helps make collagen, a connective tissue that knits together wounds and supports blood vessel walls. Helps make the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Bolsters the immune system
M: 90 mg, W: 75 mg Smokers: Add 35 mg
2,000 mg
Fruits and fruit juices (especially citrus), potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, Brussels sprouts
Evidence that vitamin C helps reduce colds has not been convincing.
Helps make and release the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, which aids in many nerve and brain activities. Plays a role in metabolizing and transporting fats
M: 550 mg, W: 425 mg
3,500 mg
Many foods, especially milk, eggs, liver, salmon, and peanuts
No rmally the body makes small amounts of choline. But experts don’t know whether this amount is enough at certain ages.
CALCIFEROL (vitamin D)
Helps maintain normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen bones. Helps form teeth and bones. Supplements can reduce the number of non-spinal fractures
31–70: 15 mcg (600 IU) 71+: 20 mcg (800 IU)
50 mcg (2,000 IU)
Fortified milk or margarine, fortified cereals, fatty fish
Many people don’t get enough of this nutrient. While the body uses sunlight to make vitamin D, it cannot make enough if you live in northern climates or don’t spend much time in the sun.
Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Protects vitamin A and certain lipids from damage. Diets rich in vitamin E may help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
M: 15 mg, W: 15 mg (15 mg equals about 22 IU from natural sources of vitamin E and 33 IU from synthetic vitamin E)
1,000 mg (nearly 1,500 IU natural vitamin E; 2,200 IU synthetic)
Wide variety of foods, including vegetable oils, salad dressings and margarines made with vegetable oils, wheat germ, leafy green vegetables, whole grains, nuts
Vitamin E does not prevent wrinkles or slow other aging processes.
FOLIC ACID(vitamin B9, folate, folacin)
Vital for new cell creationHelps prevent brain and spine birth defects when taken early in pregnancy; should be taken regularly by all women of child-bearing age since women may not know they are pregnant in the first weeks of pregnancy. Can lower levels of homocysteine and may reduce heart disease risk May reduce risk for colon cancer. Offsets breast cancer risk among women who consume alcohol
M: 400 mcg, W: 400 mcg
1,000 mcg
Fortified grains and cereals, asparagus, okra, spinach, turnip greens, broccoli, legumes like black-eyed peas and chickpeas, orange juice, tomato juice
Many people don’t get enough of this nutrient.Occasionally, folic acid masks a B12 deficiency, which can lead to severe neurological complications. That’s not a reason to avoid folic acid; just be sure to get enough B12.
Activates proteins and calcium essential to blood clotting. May help prevent hip fractures
M: 120 mcg, W: 90 mcg
Not known
Cabbage, liver, eggs, milk, spinach, broccoli, sprouts, kale, collards, and other green vegetables
Intestinal bacteria make a form of vitamin K that accounts for half your requirements. If you take an anticoagulant, keep your vitamin K intake consistent.
RECOMMENDED AMOUNT (daily RDA* or daily AI**)
UPPER LIMIT (UL) per day
Builds and protects bones and teeth. Helps with muscle contractions and relaxation, blood clotting, and nerve impulse transmission. Plays a role in hormone secretion and enzyme activation. Helps maintain healthy blood pressure
31–50: M: 1,000 mg, W: 1,000 mg 51-70: M: 1,000 mg, W: 1,200 mg, 71+: M: 1,200 mg, W: 1,200 mg
2,500 mg
Yogurt, cheese, milk, tofu, sardines, salmon, fortified juices, leafy green vegetables, such as broccoli and kale (but not spinach or Swiss chard, which have binders that lessen absorption)
Adults absorb roughly 30% of calcium ingested, but this can vary depending on the source. Diets very high in calcium may increase the risk of prostate cancer.
Balances fluids in the body. A component of stomach acid, essential to digestion
14-50: M/W: 2.3 g, 51-70 M/W: 2.0 g, 71+: M/W: 1.8 g
Not known
Salt (sodium chloride), soy sauce, processed foods
New recommendations (DRIs) for chloride are under development by the Institute of Medicine.
Enhances the activity of insulin, helps maintain normal blood glucose levels, and is needed to free energy from glucose
14–50: M: 35 mcg, 14-18: W: 24 mcg 19-50: W: 25 mcg 51+: M: 30 mcg, W: 20 mcg
Not known
Meat, poultry, fish, eggs, potatoes, some cereals, nuts, cheese
Unrefined foods such as brewer’s yeast, nuts, and cheeses are the best sources of chromium, but brewer’s yeast can sometimes cause bloating and nausea, so you may choose to get chromium from other food sources.
Plays an important role in iron metabolism and immune system. Helps make red blood cells
M: 900 mcg, W: 900 mcg
10,000 mcg
Liver, shellfish, nuts, seeds, whole-grain products, beans, prunes, cocoa, black pepper
More than half of the copper in foods is absorbed.
Encourages strong bone formation. Keeps dental cavities from starting or worsening
M: 4 mg, W: 3 mg
10 mg
Water that is fluoridated, toothpaste with fluoride, marine fish, teas
Harmful to children in excessive amounts.
Part of thyroid hormone, which helps set body temperature and influences nerve and muscle function, reproduction, and growth. Prevents goiter and a congenital thyroid disorder
M: 150 mcg, W: 150 mcg
1,100 mcg
Iodized salt, processed foods, seafood
To prevent iodine deficiencies, some countries add iodine to salt, bread, or drinking water.
Helps hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle cells ferry oxygen throughout the body. Needed for chemical reactions in the body and for making amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormones
19–50: M: 8 mg, W: 18 mg 51+: M: 8 mg, W: 8 mg
45 mg
Red meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, green vegetables, fortified bread and grain products
Many women of childbearing age don’t get enough iron. Women who do not menstruate probably need the same amount of iron as men. Because iron is harder to absorb from plants, experts suggest vegetarians get twice the recommended amount (assuming the source is food).
Needed for many chemical reactions in the body Works with calcium in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and regulation of blood pressure. Helps build bones and teeth
18+: M: 420 mg, W: 320 mg
350 mg (Note: This upper limit applies to supplements and medicines, such as laxatives, not to dietary magnesium.)
Green vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, legumes, cashews, sunflower seeds and other seeds, halibut, whole-wheat bread, milk
The majority of magnesium in the body is found in bones. If your blood levels are low, your body may tap into these reserves to correct the problem.
Helps form bones. Helps metabolize amino acids, cholesterol, and carbohydrates
M: 2.3 mg, W: 1.8 mg
11 mg
Fish, nuts, legumes, whole grains, tea
If you take supplements or have manganese in your drinking water, be careful not to exceed the upper limit. Those with liver damage or whose diets supply abundant manganese should be especially vigilant.
Part of several enzymes, one of which helps ward off a form of severe neurological damage in infants that can lead to early death
M: 45 mcg, W: 45 mcg
2,000 mcg
Legumes, nuts, grain products, milk
Molybdenum deficiencies are rare.
Helps build and protect bones and teeth. Part of DNA and RNA. Helps convert food into energy. Part of phospholipids, which carry lipids in blood and help shuttle nutrients into and out of cells
M: 700 mg, W: 700 mg
31–70: 4,000 mg 71+: 3,000 mg
Wide variety of foods, including milk and dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, liver, green peas, broccoli, potatoes, almonds
Certain drugs bind with phosphorus, making it unavailable and causing bone loss, weakness, and pain.
Balances fluids in the body. Helps maintain steady heartbeat and send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. A diet rich in potassium seems to lower blood pressure. Getting enough potassium from your diet may benefit bones
M: 4.7 g, W: 4.7 g
Not known
Meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes
Food sources do not cause toxicity, but high-dose supplements might.
Acts as an antioxidant, neutralizing unstable molecules that can damage cells. Helps regulate thyroid hormone activity
M: 55 mcg, W: 55 mcg
400 mcg
Organ meats, seafood, walnuts, sometimes plants (depends on soil content), grain products
Researchers are investigating whether selenium may help reduce the risk of developing cancer, but with mixed results.
Balances fluids in the body. Helps send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. Impacts blood pressure; even modest reductions in salt consumption can lower blood pressure
M: 2,300 mg, W: 2,300 mg
Not determined
Salt, soy sauce, processed foods, vegetables
While experts recommend that people limit sodium intake to 2,300 mg, most Americans consume 4,000–6,000 mg a day.
Helps form bridges that shape and stabilize some protein structures. Needed for healthy hair, skin, and nails
Protein-rich foods, such as meats, fish, poultry, nuts, legumes
Sulfur is a component of thiamin and certain amino acids. There is no recommended amount for sulfur. Deficiencies occur only with a severe lack of protein.
Helps form many enzymes and proteins and create new cells. Frees vitamin A from storage in the liver. Needed for immune system, taste, smell, and wound healing. When taken with certain antioxidants, zinc may delay the progression of age-related macular degeneration
M: 11 mg, W: 8 mg
40 mg
Red meat, poultry, oysters and some other seafood, fortified cereals, beans, nuts
Because vegetarians absorb less zinc, experts suggest that they get twice the recommended requirement of zinc from plant foods.
*Recommended dietary allowance **Adequate intake


Water-Soluble Vitamins

Most vitamins dissolve in water and are therefore known as water-soluble. They’re not easily stored in your body and get flushed out with urine when consumed in excess.

While each water-soluble vitamin has a unique role, their functions are related.

For example, most B vitamins act as coenzymes that help trigger important chemical reactions. A lot of these reactions are necessary for energy production.

The water-soluble vitamins — with some of their functions — are:

  • Vitamin B1 (thiamine):Helps convert nutrients into energy (7).
  • Vitamin B2 (riboflavin):Necessary for energy production, cell function and fat metabolism (8).
  • Vitamin B3 (niacin):Drives the production of energy from food (910).
  • Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid):Necessary for fatty acid synthesis (11).
  • Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine):Helps your body release sugar from stored carbohydrates for energy and create red blood cells (12).
  • Vitamin B7 (biotin):Plays a role in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose (13).
  • Vitamin B9 (folate):Important for proper cell division (14).
  • Vitamin B12 (cobalamin):Necessary for red blood cell formation and proper nervous system and brain function (15).
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid):Required for the creation of neurotransmitters and collagen, the main protein in your skin (16).

As you can see, water-soluble vitamins play an important role in producing energy but also have several other functions.

Since these vitamins are not stored in your body, it’s important to get enough of them from food.

Sources and Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs) or Adequate Intakes (AIs) of water-soluble vitamins are (7810111213141516):

Nutrient Sources RDA or AI (adults > 19 years)
Vitamin B1 (thiamine) Whole grains, meat, fish 1.1–1.2 mg
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) Organ meats, eggs, milk 1.1–1.3 mg
Vitamin B3 (niacin) Meat, salmon, leafy greens, beans 14–16 mg
Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid) Organ meats, mushrooms, tuna, avocado 5 mg
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) Fish, milk, carrots, potatoes 1.3 mg
Vitamin B7 (biotin) Eggs, almonds, spinach, sweet potatoes 30 mcg
Vitamin B9 (folate) Beef, liver, black-eyed peas, spinach, asparagus 400 mg
Vitamin B12 (cobalamin) Clams, fish, meat 2.4 mcg
Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) Citrus fruits, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts 75–90 mg

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins do not dissolve in water.

They’re best absorbed when consumed alongside a source of fat. After consumption, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your liver and fatty tissues for future use.

The names and functions of fat-soluble vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A: Necessary for proper vision and organ function (17).
  • Vitamin D:Promotes proper immune function and assists in calcium absorption and bone growth (18).
  • Vitamin E:Assists immune function and acts as an antioxidant that protects cells from damage (19).
  • Vitamin K:Required for blood clotting and proper bone development (20).

Sources and recommended intakes of fat-soluble vitamins are (17181920):

Nutrient Sources RDA or AI (adults > 19 years)
Vitamin A Retinol (liver, dairy, fish), carotenoids (sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach) 700–900 mcg
Vitamin D Sunlight, fish oil, milk 600–800 IU
Vitamin E Sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds 15 mg
Vitamin K Leafy greens, soybeans, pumpkin 90–120 mcg


Macrominerals are needed in larger amounts than trace minerals in order to perform their specific roles in your body.

The macrominerals and some of their functions are:

  • Calcium: Necessary for proper structure and function of bones and teeth. Assists in muscle function and blood vessel contraction (21).
  • Phosphorus:Part of bone and cell membrane structure (22).
  • Magnesium:Assists with over 300 enzyme reactions, including regulation of blood pressure (23).
  • Sodium:Electrolyte that aids fluid balance and maintenance of blood pressure (24).
  • Chloride:Often found in combination with sodium. Helps maintain fluid balance and is used to make digestive juices (25).
  • Potassium:Electrolyte that maintains fluid status in cells and helps with nerve transmission and muscle function (26).
  • Sulfur:Part of every living tissue and contained in the amino acids methionine and cysteine (27).

Sources and recommended intakes of the macrominerals are (21222324252627):

Nutrient Sources RDA or AI (adults > 19 years)
Calcium Milk products, leafy greens, broccoli 2,000–2,500 mg
Phosphorus Salmon, yogurt, turkey 700 mg
Magnesium Almonds, cashews, black beans 310–420 mg
Sodium Salt, processed foods, canned soup 2,300 mg
Chloride Seaweed, salt, celery 1,800–2,300 mg
Potassium Lentils, acorn squash, bananas 4,700 mg
Sulfur Garlic, onions, Brussels sprouts, eggs, mineral water None established

Trace Minerals

Trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than macrominerals but still enable important functions in your body.

The trace minerals and some of their functions are:

  • Iron: Helps provide oxygen to muscles and assists in the creation of certain hormones (28).
  • Manganese:Assists in carbohydrate, amino acid and cholesterol metabolism (29).
  • Copper:Required for connective tissue formation, as well as normal brain and nervous system function (30).
  • Zinc:Necessary for normal growth, immune function and wound healing (31).
  • Iodine:Assists in thyroid regulation (32).
  • Fluoride:Necessary for the development of bones and teeth (33).
  • Selenium:Important for thyroid health, reproduction and defense against oxidative damage (34).

Sources and recommended intakes of trace minerals are (28293031323334):

Nutrient Sources RDA or AI (adults > 19 years)
Iron Oysters, white beans, spinach 8–18 mg
Manganese Pineapple, pecans, peanuts 1.8–2.3 mg
Copper Liver, crabs, cashews 900 mcg
Zinc Oysters, crab, chickpeas 8–11 mg
Iodine Seaweed, cod, yogurt 150 mcg
Fluoride Fruit juice, water, crab 3–4 mg
Selenium Brazil nuts, sardines, ham 55 mcg

 SUMMARY  Micronutrients can be divided into four groups — water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, macrominerals and trace minerals. The functions, food sources and recommended intakes of each vitamin and mineral vary.


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