A Guide to Vitamins and Minerals


Vitamins and minerals help the body turn food into fuel, fortify bones and eyesight, and are thus important in our diet. Vitamins are organic substances required for normal cell function and growth. Fat-soluble vitamins are those that bind to fat in the stomach and then stored in the body for later use. Examples include Vitamins A, E, D, and K. Water-soluble vitamins are absorbed directly by the cells. These are excreted through the urine when there is an excess. Examples include Vitamin C, biotin, niacin, and pantothenic acid. Minerals are an inorganic substance (lack carbon) and are also necessary for normal body growth and function.

Biotin (Vitamin B7, Vitamin H)

Plays a role in cell growth and food metabolism. It converts the food we eat into energy for essential tasks like thinking, running, or even driving a car. You need 30 micrograms (mcg). You can obtain biotin through various food like cooked salmon (4-5 mcg per 3 ounces), whole grains (0.02-6 mcg per slice of bread), eggs (13-25 mcg per large egg), or avocados (2-6 mcg per avocado).


A macromineral crucial to healthy bone growth and healthy teeth. It also helps in mucle function, blood clotting, nerve signaling, hormone secretion, and blood pressure. It also reduces the risk of osteoporosis. You need 1000 mg of calcium a day. You get calcium through such foods like milk (300 mg per cup), yoghurt (300 mg per cup), cheddar cheese (303 mg per 1.5 ounce, tofu (258 per half cup) and spinach (115 mg per half cup).


Another water-soluble vitamin, is a building block of acetylcholine, essential for nerve and brain activites, that control memory and mucle movement. It also helps store the food we eat into energy. Excess of choline can result in vomiting, and increased salivation and sweating. Men require 550 mg and woman require 425 mg per day. Food such as eggs (126 mg per egg), milk (38 mg per cup), cooked broccoli (62 mg per cup), beef (67 mg per 3 ounce) and even milk chocolate (20 mg per 1.5 ounce bar) are rich in choline.


It is a mineral that enhances insulin activity and breakdown of sugars. Over consumption could cause kidney damage. Men need 35 mcg and women need 25 mcg per day. Broccoli (22 mcg per cup), grape juice (7.5 mg per cup), and whole wheat bread are some foods you can eat that contain chromium.

Folic Acid

Vital for pregnant women to ensure the baby’s proper development, helping prevent birth defects in the brain and spine. It also helps to create most of the cells in the body and reducethe risk of heart disease and colon cancer. You need 400 mcg a day.  Grains and cereals (200-400 mcg per cup), asparagus (134 mcg per 6 speares), spinach (132 mcg per half cup), orange juice (83 mcg per cup), and lentils (179 per half cup) are important foods that contain folic acid.


Essential trace mineral that is important for the thyroid gland that secretes certain hormones, which maintain our basal metabolic rate. It also helps in maintaining body temperature, nerve and muscle function, and body’s growth and development. Deficiency in iodine can result in thyroid dysfunction, developmental abnormalities, and swelling of the thyroid gland. Excess can result in hyperthyroidism. You need 150 mcg per day of iodine. Foods like Shrimp (35 mg per 3 ounces), canned tuna (17 mcg per half can), milk (56 mg per cup), and baked potatoes (60 mcg per medium potato) have iodine in them.


Helps hemoglobin, and component of blood, and myoglobin found in muscles to bring oxygen to all the cells of the body. It is also important in the production of amino acids, collagens, neurotransmitters and hormones. Acute overdose of iron can cause GI irritation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Men require 8 mg and woman require 18 mg per day. You can get iron through beef (2.32 mg per 3 cooked ounces), raisins (0.81 mg per small box), prune juice (2.28 mg per 6 ounces), cooked lentils (3.30 mg per half cup), and cashews (1.89 per ounce).


Along with calcium, magnesium helps in proper muscle contraction, blood clotting, cell signaling, energy metabolism, blood pressure regulation, and healthy bones and teeth. Excess of magnesium can lead lethary, diarrhea, and muscle weakness. Men require 400 mg and women require 310 mg per day. Food that contain magnesium are almonds (78 mg per ounce, brown rice (86 mg per cup), cooked spinach (78 per half cup),  and bananas (32 mg per banana).


Necessary mineral that controls many enzymes, which speed up the body’s biochemical reactions that break down dietary and stored nutrients into energy. You require 45 mcg per day. Foods that contain molybdenum are legumes such as black beans (130 mcg per cup), split peas (148 mcg per cup), and nuts such as almonds, and peanuts (both 42 mcg per cup).

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Water soluble vitamin essential for converting foods into stored energy. It also promotes in healthy skin, hair, eyes, liver, and the nervous system. Deficiencies in niacin may lead to skin irritation, diarrhea, dementia, or death. Men require 16 mg and woman require 14 mg per day. Peanuts (3.8 mg per ounce), chicken (7.3 mg per 3 ounces) and coffee (0.5 mg per cup) are foods that contain niacin.

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Helps in food metabolism and synthesizes neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and red blood cells. You need 5 mg per day. You can eat eggs (0.61 mg per large egg), whole grains (0.19 mg per slice of bread), mushrooms (0.52 mg per half cup), sweet potato (0.88 mg per medium potato, and avocados (1.99 mg per whole avocado).


A macromineral that helps and promotes growth of bones and teeth. It is also a component of DNA and RNA, and guides nutrients to the organs that need them. Rare cases of deficiency can lead to anemia, muscle weakness, and loss of appetite. You need 700 mg per day of phosphorus. Foods rich in phosphorus include milk (257 mg per cup), yoghurt (385 mg per cup), cheese (131 mg per ounce), and eggs (104 mg per large egg).


A macromineral and electrolyte that is necessary for a controlled heartbeat, signals of the nervous system, and muscle function. It also balances fluid by helping the kidneys save fluids when we are dehydrated. It also lowers blood pressure and benefit bones. Deficiencies can lead to fatigue, muscle weakness, cramps, bloating, abdominal pain and constipation. Excess can also lead to muscles weakness, tingling in hands and feet, and abnormal hearty rhythms. You need 2000 mg per day. Food that contain potassium include baked potatoes (926 mg per medium potato), artichokes (343 mg per medium artichoke), plums (637 mg per half cup), raisins (598 mg per half cup) and bananas (422 per medium banana).

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Water-soluble B vitamin that helps convert food to fuel, promotes iron absorption in the intestine, and also boosts the health of hair, skin, muscles, eyes and brains. Dificiency of riboflavin may result in sore throat, cracks and sores around the lips, an inflamed magenta tongue, and scaly skin. Overdose can turn your pee to bright yellow, called flavinuria. Men require 1.3 mg and women require 1.1 mg per day. You can enhance your intake of riboflavin through milk (0.34 mg per cup), almonds (0.23 mg per ounce), cheddar cheese (0.11 mg per ounce), and eggs (0.27 mg per large egg).

Sodium Chloride (Table Salt)

Found in high quantities in most meals, snacks, and even drinks. Salt is crucial for fluid balance, nerve signal transmission, muscle contractions, digestion, and blood pressure. Although it is essential, excess of salt can raise blood pressure above normal limits and increase the risk of cardiovascular disease and hypertension. An average person requires 500 mg of sodium and 750 mg of chloride. The limit is 2,300 mg of sodium. Food that contain sodium chloride are white bread (850 mg per two slices of bread), pickles (800 mg per 1 spear), and hot dogs (1,300 mg per one weiner).

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Water-soluble B vitamin, that helps with food metabolism and boosts the health of hair, skin, muscles and brain. Excess amount is rare, but it can result in cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, muscular and nervous system problems. Men require 1.2 mg and women require 1.1 mg per day. Foods that contain thiamin are milk (0.10 mg per cup), lentils (0.17 mg per half cup), cantaloupe(0.11 mg per half fruit), and pecans (0.19 mg per ounce).

Vitamin A (retinoic acid)

Vitamin that is excellent for vision, boosts red and white blood cell production, keeps the immune system fit and blood vessels healthy, helps rebuild bone, and may reduce the risk of some cancers. It is also used to treat skin diseases and acne. Vitamin A dificiency can cause nightblindness, diarrhea and increased disposition to infectious diseases. Men require 900 mcg, and women require 700 mcg. Foods rich in vitamin A include eggs (91 mcg per large egg), carrots (588 mcg per half cup), baked sweet potatoes (961 mcg per half cup), cantaloupe (467 mcg per half a melon), mango (79 mcg per fruit), and squash (572 mcg per half cup).

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal, pyridoxamine)

Water-soluble vitamin that helps out with production of serotinin, a hormone that plays a role in sleep, appetite, and moods. It also aids in red blood cells and steroid hormones, controls cognitive and immune function, and may even reduce the risk of heart disease. Dificiency is rare, but may induce seizures. Average person requires 1.3 mg per day. An excess of up to 100 mg may result in pain and numbness in the limbs. Food rich in vitamin b6 include salmon (0.48 mg per 3 ounces), chicken (0.51 mg per 3 ounces), bananas (0.43 mg per medium banana), hazlenuts (0.18 mg per ounce), and cooked spinach (0.44 mg per cup).

Vitamin B12

Lends a hand in the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids, cell creation and protection of nerve cells, and may also reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s. Dificiency in the elderly may lead to memory loss, dementia, and anemia. Am average person requires 2.4 mcg per day. Beef (2.1 mcg per 3 ounces), salmon (2.4 mcg per 3 ounces), and poached eggs (0.6 mcg per large egg) are foods that contain vitamin B12.

Vitamin C (asorbic acid)

Lowers the risk of cancers, including cancer of mouth, esophagus, stomach, and breast. It also helps make collagen, useful for wound healing, and has anti-oxidant and immune-boosting effects. Dificiency in vitamin c can lead to scurvy, in which bleeding, bruising, joint pain, and hair and tooth loss occurs. Men require 90 mg and women require 75 mg per day. It is researched that those who smoke should add 35 mg per day. Food rich in vitamin C, include orange juice (100 mg per cup), grapefruits (76 mg per fruit), strawberries (85 mg per cup), tomatoes (16 mg per medium tomato), and broccoli (51 mg per half cup).

Vitamin D

This fat-soluble vitamin is extremely important. It is vital for normal calcium metabolism, immunity, nervous system function, and bone density. Dificiency leads to osteoporosis and lethargy. An average person requires 15 mcg per day. You can either utilize the sun for vitamin D, or eat foods such as  fortified cereals (1.0-1.3 mcg per cup), fortified milk (2.4 mcg per cup), canned salmon (13.3 mcg per 3 ounces), and egg yolks (0.53 mcg per large egg).

Vitamin E

Protects essential lipids from damage, combats free radicals, and maintains the integrity of cell membranes. Dificiency leads to impaired balance and coordination, muscle weakness, and pain and numbness in the limbs. An average person requires 15 mg per day. Foods that contain vitamin E include olive oil (1.9 mg per tablespoon), canola oil (2.4 mg per tablespoon), almonds (7.4 mg per ounce), avocados (2.7 mg per avocado), and hazlenuts (4.3 mg per ounce).

Vitamin K

Necessary fat-soluble vitamin for normal wound healing, coagulation and bone development. It helps in blood clots that occurs in scabs, which are patches of clotted blood to protect cuts and scrapes from infection. Ladies taking birth control pills should be careful with overconsumption, as the combination can put you at risk for unwanted clots. Dificiencies in vitamin K leads to bruising, nose bleeds, and heavy menstrual periods. Men require 120 mcg and women require 90 mcg per day. Foods that contain vitamin K include parsley (246 mcg per quarter cup) and cooked broccoli (220 mcg per cup).

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