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Nutrition

Get excited about nutrition, and learn as you go with these information-packed resources on a wide variety of nutrition-centric topics! Our bistroMD experts review the importance of the macronutrients protein, fat, and carbohydrates, as well as how to make them work most efficiently for you.

Daily Vitamins: Recommended Intake, Sources & More

Vitamins and minerals are essential to health, though needs can vary based on age, gender, and other factors. Use our chart to ensure the right intake on a daily basis.

Daily Vitamins: Recommended Intake, Sources & More


All vitamins and minerals are important for overall health and aid in countless important functions in the body. Not getting enough daily vitamins over time could lead to health problems, so it is important to know which to take. 

Knowing what vitamins are needed daily can be impacted by age, gender, and health. Our comprehensive vitamins and minerals chart helps breakdown the right intake for each nutrient.

What Do Vitamins Do for Health?

Essential vitamins can be broken down into how they are absorbed in the body: Fat or water soluble. 

Fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. They are absorbed and stored in fat cells in the body. Water soluble vitamins include B vitamins and vitamin C. They are typically not stored in the body, as any extra in the body can be eliminated through urine (water). 

Essential vitamins help make many important functions in the body possible: 

• Breaking down nutrients (protein, carbohydrate and fat) for energy
• Regulating fluid balance
• Growing and producing new cells
• Maintaining healthy muscle, nerve, bone, blood and immune systems
• Protecting cells from damage
• Preventing from birth defects during pregnancy

Vitamins are considered essential nutrients, meaning the body needs them to function and does not produce them. Thus, eating a balanced, varied diet is recommended to get all essential vitamins daily.

All vitamins have a unique function in the body and are needed in varying amounts. A single food does not provide all essential vitamins. It is generally recommended to achieve vitamin levels from natural sources eating a varied diet. Before taking a vitamin supplement, consult a healthcare professional or team.

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin A Food Sources

• Helps with vision and immune health
• Helps with making new cells

• Men: 900 microgram (mcgm) Retinol Activity Equivalents (RAE)
• Women: 700 mcgm RAE
• Pregnancy: 770 mcgm RAE
• Breast feeding: 1,300 mcgm RAE

• Vitamin A comes in different forms from foods and supplements. Animal-based foods and most supplements provide vitamin A as retinol, which is the active form the body uses. Plant foods provide vitamin A as beta carotene, which is converted to the active form for use.

 

• Milk, butter, fortified cereal, liver, meat, sweet potato, cantaloupe, carrots, mangoes, leafy greens

 

B Vitamins


The B vitamins are composed of eight different, individual vitamins. Their functions in the body and food sources are fairly similar. 

A wide variety of plant and animal-based foods provide B vitamins. Most B vitamins are needed to break down nutrients for energy and some are needed for making new cells in the body. 

Most nutrient needs increase with pregnancy and breastfeeding. This is especially true for B vitamins, like folate, that are involved with making new cells and cell building blocks like DNA.

Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)

Vitamin B1 Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin B1 Food Sources

• Helps break down carbohydrates and protein for energy

• Men: 1.2 mg
• Women: 1.1 mg
• Pregnancy or breastfeeding: 1.4 mg 

Fortified cereal, enriched bread, whole grains, pork, nuts, seeds, legumes

 

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin B2 Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin B2 Food Sources

• Helps break down carbohydrates, fat, and protein for energy
• Plays an important role in antioxidant protection for body cells

• Men: 1.3 mg
• Women: 1.1 mg
• Pregnancy: 1.4 mg 
• Breastfeeding: 1.6 mg 

Milk, meat, fortified cereal, eggs, almonds, spinach, asparagus

 

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)

Vitamin B3 Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin B3 Food Sources

• Helps break down carbohydrates, fat and protein for energy

• Men: 16 mg
• Women: 14 mg
• Pregnancy: 18 mg 
• Breastfeeding: 17 mg 

Fortified cereal, meat, fish, mushrooms, avocados, peanuts

 

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid) 

Pantothenic Acid Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin B5 Food Sources

• Helps break down carbohydrates, fat, and protein for energy
• Helps make steroid hormones from fat and cholesterol
• Helps make new red blood cells

• Men and Women: 5 mg
• Pregnancy: 6 mg 
• Breastfeeding: 7 mg 

Fortified cereal, meat, fish, mushrooms, avocados, peanuts

 

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin B6 Food Sources

• Involved with many metabolic processes
• Helps make new DNA and red blood cells
• Involved with regulating steroid hormones
• Helps break down proteins to amino acids

• Men and Women: 1.3 mg
• Pregnancy: 1.9 mg 
• Breastfeeding: 2.0 mg 
• Men over 50 years: 1.7
• Women over 50 years: 1.5 mg

Fortified cereal, meat, fish, nuts, bananas, potatoes

 

Vitamin B7 (Biotin)

Vitamin B7 Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Biotin Food Sources

• Helps break down carbohydrates, fat, and protein for energy

• Men and Women: 30 mcgm
• Pregnancy: 30 mcgm 
• Breastfeeding: 35 mcgm 

Beef liver, pork, fish, eggs, avocado, whole wheat bread

 

Vitamin B9 (Folate/Folic Acid) 

Vitamin B9 Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Folate Food Sources

• Helps make new DNA
• Helps make new red blood cells
• Prevents neural tube defects in pregnancy

• Men and Women: 400 mcgm*
• Pregnancy: 600 mcgm* 
• Breastfeeding: 500 mcgm* 

 

*mcgm Dietary Folate Equivalent

Legumes, leafy greens, asparagus, peanuts, orange juice, peas, corn

 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin B12 Food Sources

• Helps break down fats and protein for energy
• Helps make new red blood cells
• Needed for nerve function

• Men and Women: 2.4 mcg
• Pregnancy: 2.6 mcg
• Breastfeeding: 2.8 mcg

 

*The Linus Pauling Institute recommends adults over age 50 years may benefit from a B12 supplement between 100-400 mcgm. This is because vitamin B12 absorption can decrease with age. 


 

• Naturally only found in animal food sources. Fortified grains or fortified non-dairy milks can be sources of vitamin B12 only because it is added to these foods.

 

• Seafood, fish, meat, milk, yogurt, cheese, fortified grains

 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin C Food Sources

• Acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage
• Needed for building collagen
• Needed for producing hormones

• Men: 90 mg (125 mg smokers)
• Women: 75 mg (110 mg smokers)
• Pregnancy: 85 mg
• Breastfeeding: 120 mg

 

Smokers have a higher need for vitamin C due to the increased need for protecting cells against damage caused from smoking.


 

Peppers, berries, citrus, leafy greens, potatoes, tomatoes, broccoli

 

Vitamin D

Vitamin D Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin D Food Sources

• Aids in bone health by regulating calcium and phosphorus
• Plays a role in immune health
• Involved with growth and development

• Men and Women: 600 IU
• Pregnancy: 600 IU
• Breastfeeding: 600 IU
• Adults over 70 years: 800 IU



 

• Fatty fish, eggs, fortified milk and non-dairy milk, fortified cereal, fortified orange juice

 

• Vitamin D is also known as "sunshine vitamin" because one can obtain the vitamin from the sun. However, this depends on time of year, location, sun exposure duration, and age.

 

Vitamin E

Vitamin E Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin E Food Sources

• Acts as an antioxidant to protect cells from damage
• Aids in nerve function
• Plays a role in immune health

• Men and Women: 22.5 IU
• Pregnancy: 22.5 IU
• Breastfeeding: 28.5 IU




 

Oils, nuts, avocado, carrots, leafy greens

 

Vitamin K

Vitamin K Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Vitamin K Food Sources

• Plays a role in blood clotting
• Involved with calcium and bone health

• Men: 120 mcg
• Women: 90 mcg
• Pregnancy: 90 mcg
• Breastfeeding: 90 mcg




 

Leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, oils, cashews, peas, fermented foods

 

Calcium

Calcium Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Calcium Food Sources

• Main part of bone and tooth structure 
• Involved with nerve and muscle function
• Plays a role in blood pressure regulation 

• Men and Women: 1,000 mg
• Pregnancy: 1,000 mg
• Breastfeeding: 1,000 mg
• Men and Women over 70 years: 1,200 mg


 

Leafy greens, dairy, tofu (calcium set), almonds, legumes

 

Iron

Iron Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Iron Food Sources

• Part of hundreds of enzymes in the body
• Needed to make red blood cells
• Needed to make DNA, neurotransmitters, collagen
• Plays a role in immune health

• Men: 8 mg
• Women: 18 mg
• Pregnancy: 27 mg
• Breastfeeding: 9 mg
• Men and Women over 50 years: 8 mg

 

Iron deficiency can be common among women of child bearing age and children. 

 

Men and post-menopausal women have a decreased need for iron due to less demand for making new blood cells and should not go over daily intake recommendations.


 

Seafood, beef, legumes, leafy greens, dark meat poultry, molasses, dried fruit, cashews

 

Magnesium 

Magnesium Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Magnesium Food Sources

• Part of bone structure
• Needed for making new DNA
• Involved with nerve and muscle function

• Men: 400 mg
• Men over 30 years: 420 mg
• Women: 310 mg
• Women over 30 years: 320 mg
• Pregnancy: 350-360 mg
• Breastfeeding: 310-320 mg


 

Seeds, nuts, brown rice, legumes, milk, yogurt, bananas, figs, molasses

 

Potassium 

Potassium Functions

Daily Intake Recommendation

Potassium Food Sources

• Involved with fluid and electrolyte balance
• Involved with nerve and muscle function
• Helps to lower blood pressure

• Men and Women: 4,700 mg
• Pregnancy: 4,700 mg
• Breastfeeding: 5,100 mg



 

Legumes, potatoes with skin, squash, bananas, spinach, tomatoes, oranges


Reference:

Micronutrients for Health. Linus Pauling Institute. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/sites/lpi.oregonstate.edu/files/pdf/mic/micronutrients_for_health.pdf.

Sydney Lappe's Photo
Written By Sydney Lappe, MS, RDN. Published on October 06, 2020. Updated on October 26, 2020.

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