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Vitamins

Vitamin A

 

Functions

Protects from infections by keeping the skin and tissues in the mouth, stomach, intestines, respiratory, genital, and urinary tracts healthy. Promotes the growth of skin, bones, and male and female reproductive organs. Essential for night vision and helps the eyes adjust to lower levels of light. Beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A in the body.

Deficiencies
Vitamin deficiency may cause:

• Dry eyes and eye infections
• Dry scaly skin
• Reproductive problems, slow growth, and night blindness.

Excesses
Because Vitamin A is stored in the body, large quantities can be very harmful. Symptoms of overdosing include:

• Headaches
• Dry scaly skin
• Liver damage
• Bone and joint pain
• Vomiting
• Appetite loss, nerve damage, and birth defects.

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for vitamin A is 3,000 micrograms for adult males and females.

Interactions with Vitamin A

Vitamin A supplements can interact or interfere with medicines you take. Here are several examples:

• Orlistat - Alli®, Xenical® - a weight-loss drug, can decrease the absorption of vitamin A, causing low blood levels in some people.
• Several synthetic forms of vitamin A are used in prescription medicines. Examples are the psoriasis treatment acitretin (Soriatane®) and bexarotene (Targretin®), used to treat the skin effects of T-cell lymphoma. Taking these medicines in combination with a vitamin A supplement can cause dangerously high levels of vitamin A in the blood.

Amount Needed The recommended intake for adult females is 700 micrograms and 900 micrograms for adult males. Food Sources The body can take up vitamin A in two forms: retinols and beta-carotene. Retinols are found in foods that come from animals such as meat, milk fortified with Vitamin A, fish oil and eggs. Beta-carotene is found in red, yellow, and orange vegetables and fruits, and many dark-green leafy vegetables.

 

Vitamin D

 

Functions

• Vitamin D is one member of a large team of nutrients and hormones that promotes the absorption of calcium and phosphorus.
• Vitamin D helps deposit Calcium and Phosphorus in the bones and teeth, thus making them stronger and healthier.

Deficiencies
• Lack of vitamin D in childhood may lead to a condition called rickets, in which bones and teeth are weak.
• In older adults a lack of vitamin D can cause a condition called osteomalacia, a softening of the bones.
• It can also cause bone loss called osteoporosis.

Excesses
Because vitamin D is stored in the body, large quantities can be toxic.
• Kidney stones and kidney damage
• Weak bones
• Excessive bleeding
• Muscle weakness and muscle damage can occur.
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin D is 50 micrograms for adults.

Amount Needed

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
0–12 months* 400 IU(10 mcg) 400 IU(10 mcg)    
1–13 years 600 IU(15 mcg) 600 IU(15 mcg)    
14–18 years 600 IU(15 mcg) 600 IU(15 mcg) 600 IU(15 mcg) 600 IU(15 mcg)
19–50 years 600 IU(15 mcg) 600 IU(15 mcg) 600 IU(15 mcg) 600 IU(15 mcg)
51–70 years 600 IU(15 mcg) 600 IU(15 mcg)    
>70 years 800 IU(20 mcg) 800 IU(20 mcg)    

*Chart Source: National Institutes of Health, June 2011

Food Sources
Very few foods in nature contain vitamin D.
• The flesh of fatty fish such as salmon, tuna, and mackerel and fish liver oils are among the best sources.
• Small amounts of vitamin D are found in beef liver, cheese, and egg yolks.

Vitamin D in these foods is primarily in the form of vitamin D3. Some mushrooms provide vitamin D2 in variable amounts. Fortified foods provide most of the vitamin D in the American diet. For example, almost all of the U.S. milk supply is voluntarily fortified with 100 IU/cup. Ready-to-eat breakfast cereals often contain added vitamin D, as do some brands of orange juice, yogurt, margarine and other food products.

Sun exposure
Most people meet at least some of their vitamin D needs through exposure to sunlight. Ultraviolet (UV) B radiation with a wavelength of 290–320 nanometers penetrates uncovered skin and converts cutaneous 7-dehydrocholesterol to pre-vitamin D3, which in turn becomes vitamin D3. Season, time of day, length of day, cloud cover, smog, skin melanin content, and sunscreen are among the factors that affect UV radiation exposure and vitamin D synthesis. Perhaps surprisingly, geographic latitude does not consistently predict average serum 25 (OH) D levels in a population. Ample opportunities exist to form vitamin D and store it in the liver and fat from exposure to sunlight during the spring, summer, and fall months even in the far north latitudes.

 

Vitamin E

 

Functions

Vitamin E can be referred to as the “bodyguard” of the body.
• It works as an antioxidant, preventing a chemical reaction called oxidation, which can sometimes result in harmful effects in the body.
• For example, vitamin E protects polyunsaturated fats, red blood cells, and vitamin A from the destructive forces of oxygen. The cells of the lungs are continually exposed to the destructive properties of oxygen, but vitamin E protects these tissues.
• It is important for proper functioning of nerves, blood and muscle tissue.

Deficiencies
Because it is abundant in many foods, a deficiency of vitamin E is rare. However, there are two exceptions.
• Since the transfer of vitamin E from mother to infant occurs during the very last weeks of pregnancy, premature infants may be deficient. Without vitamin E, the red blood cells rupture and the infant would become anemic.
• There are also some people who are unable to absorb fat normally and therefore develop a vitamin E deficiency. In this case the nervous system can be affected.

Excesses
People who take large doses by mouth do not seem to have major symptoms.
• Blurred vision
• Diarrhea
• Dizziness and headache
• Nausea, stomach cramps, unusual tiredness, and weakness have been reported.
The Tolerable Upper Intake Limit for vitamin E is 1,000 milligrams daily.

Amount Needed
Vitamin E is a group of substances call tocopherols with different potencies. The amount is given in alpha-tocopherol equivalents as a standard measure. The recommended daily intake for adults is 15 alpha-tocopherol equivalents.

Food Sources
Vitamin E is found in a variety of foods. The best sources include:
• Wheat germ and wheat germ oil
• Soybean, corn, safflower and cottonseed oil.
Good sources include:
• Margarine, mayonnaise and other salad dressings
• Nuts, seeds, peanuts, and peanut butter.
Fair sources include:
• Whole grains
• Corn,
• Beef liver,
• Leafy-green vegetables, fish and eggs.

 

Vitamin K

 

Functions

Vitamin K refers to a group of chemically similar fat-soluble compounds.
• Vitamin K is necessary to make proteins that cause your blood to coagulate and clot. This stops bleeding.
• Vitamin K also helps your body make other body proteins for your blood, bones, and kidneys.

Deficiencies
Vitamin K deficiency is rare. However, a deficiency can lead to:
• Defective blood coagulation
• Increased bleeding and bruising
Certain health problems can cause deficiencies such as:
• Malnutrition due to alcohol dependency celiac disease
• Ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, and short bowel syndrome.
Some drugs may reduce vitamin K levels by altering liver function or destroying the intestinal bacteria that makes vitamin K.

Excesses
No symptoms have been observed with excess intake. Moderation is still the best approach. People taking blood-thinning drugs and anticoagulants such as Warfarin or Coumadin need to eat foods with vitamin K in moderation. Too much can make blood clot faster. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin K has not been determined.

Amount Needed
The recommended daily intake for adult females is 90 micrograms and 120 micrograms for adult males.

Food Sources
Vitamin K can be made in your digestive tract by the billions of bacteria that are in your intestines. Some of these bacteria synthesize vitamin K that your body can then absorb. Good food sources include:
• green-leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli
• pork
• Liver, whole wheat, oats, and bran.
Fair sources include:
• Fruits and vegetables
• Seeds, tubers, milk, and eggs.

 

Vitamin B-1 also known as Thiamin

 

Functions

In all the cells of the body, thiamin is needed for the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates

Deficiencies
In the United States, a deficiency of thiamin is rare because refined grains are enriched with this nutrient. Before refined grain products were enriched, a thiamin deficiency could result in a disease called beriberi. Signs of beriberi include:
• Loss of appetite,
• Constipation
• Muscle weakness
• Pain or tingling in the arms and legs and swelling of the feet
• Mental depression and memory problems
• Shortness of breath, and fast heartbeat.
Thiamin deficiency occurs in alcoholics because of impaired absorption.

Excesses
In some people an excessive intake can cause an allergic reaction. For most people, the body excretes the excess consumed. Extra thiamin does not boost the energy level. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level has not been determined due to a lack of data concerning adverse effects.

Amount Needed
Adult females need 1.1 milligrams of thiamin each day and adult males need 1.2 milligrams daily.

Food Sources
The best food sources of thiamin include:
• Pork,
• Liver
• Wheat germ, and peas.
Good sources include:
• Whole-grain and enriched grain products, such as bread, rice and pasta,
• Tortillas, and fortified cereals.
Fair sources include:
• Pineapple
• Citrus fruits
• Milk
• Spinach, tomatoes, bananas, beans
• Nuts, seeds, and peanuts.

 

Vitamin B-2 also known as Riboflavin

 

Functions

• Riboflavin is involved in several vital metabolic processes in the body.
• It is necessary for normal cell and tissue function.
• Riboflavin is needed for normal protein and energy metabolism.

Deficiencies
A deficiency of riboflavin rarely occurs except in the severely malnourished. Symptoms can include:
• Eye disorders
• Dry and flaky skin and sores at the corners of the mouth,
• A sore, red swollen tongue, throat swelling, and anemia.

Excesses
There are currently no reports that indicate problems associated with an excessive intake of riboflavin.

Amount Needed
Healthy, adult males need 1.3 milligrams of riboflavin daily and females need 1.1 milligrams daily.

Food Sources
The best food sources of riboflavin include:
• Liver,
• Milk, cottage cheese and other dairy products.
Good sources include eggs and meats.
Fair sources are:
• Whole grains and enriched grains
• Green leafy vegetables
• Asparagus, broccoli, beans, and peas.
Ultraviolet light, including sunlight, can quickly destroy riboflavin. That is the reason why milk is stored in opaque plastic or cardboard containers instead of clear glass containers.

 

Niacin

 

Functions

• Niacin helps the body to metabolize and release the energy in carbohydrates and fats.
• It is involved with the making of protein and fat.
• Niacin helps promote healthy cells, gastro-intestinal tract, skin, and nervous system.

Deficiencies
Pellagra is a disease that develops due to a deficiency of niacin. Symptoms include:
• Skin problems
• Diarrhea
• Dementia, and depression.

Excesses
An excessive intake of niacin can cause:
• Tingling and flushing of the skin
• Itching, digestive upsets and low blood pressure
• Abdominal pain, liver problems, and ulcers.
Large doses of niacin have been used along with medication to help lower cholesterol levels. Speak with your physician before ever starting such a treatment plan. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 35 milligrams daily for both adult males and females.

Amount Needed
Niacin recommendations are given in niacin equivalents (NE). This is because niacin comes from two sources:
• Niacin found in food
• The amino acid tryptophan which can be converted to niacin in the body.

1 milligram of niacin equals 60 milligrams of tryptophan. The recommended intake of niacin (as NE) is 14 milligrams daily for adult females and 16 milligrams for adult males.

Food Sources
• The best sources of niacin include meats, poultry, and fish.
• Good sources include mushrooms, peanuts, legumes, and nuts.
• Fair sources include enriched grain products.
Niacin is also produced in the body from the amino acid tryptophan.

 

Vitamin B-6 also known as Pyridoxine

 

Functions

• Pyridoxine is necessary for the normal breakdown of protein, carbohydrates, and fat.
• It helps turn the amino acid tryptophan into niacin and serotonin- a messenger in the brain.
• Niacin also helps produce body chemicals such as insulin, antibodies, and hemoglobin.

Deficiencies
A lack of pyridoxine may lead to:
• Anemia or weak blood
• Depression
• Nerve damage
• Seizures
• Flaky skin problems and sores in the mouth.

Excesses
At extremely high doses, nervous system damage can occur. The tolerable upper intake level is 100 milligrams for adults.

Amount Needed*

Age Male Female Pregnancy Lactation
Birth to 6 months 0.1 mg* 0.1 mg*    
7–12 months 0.3 mg* 0.3 mg*    
1–3 years 0.5 mg 0.5 mg    
4–8 years 0.6 mg 0.6 mg    
9–13 years 1.0 mg 1.0 mg    
14–18 years 1.3 mg 1.2 mg 1.9 mg 2.0 mg
19–50 years 1.3 mg 1.3 mg 1.9 mg 2.0 mg
51+ years 1.7 mg 1.5 mg    

*Chart Source: National Institutes of Health, June 2011

Food Sources
The best food sources of pyridoxine are:
• Blackstrap molasses, wheat bran and germ
• Soybeans, and brown rice.
Good sources include:
• Organ meats
• Veal
• Lamb
• Chicken, fish, and pork.
Fair sources include:
• Bananas
• Lima beans
• Cabbage
• Corn
• Oats
• Carrots, potatoes, and legumes.

 

 

Folic Acid

Also known as Folacin or Folate

 

Functions

• Folic acid is necessary for strong, healthy blood by helping to form hemoglobin.

• It plays a role in making new cells. By synthesizing the essential nucleic acids, DNA and RNA, normal cell division and replication occur.

Deficiencies
• A lack of folic acid produces poorly formed blood cells that cannot carry as much oxygen.
• A deficiency can affect normal cell division and impair growth.
• Pregnant women who do not get enough folic acid prior to conception and during the first trimester have a greater risk of having a baby with neural tube defects such as spinal bifida.

Excesses
• Consuming too much folic acid can mask a vitamin B-12 deficiency.
• An excess can also interfere with some medications.
• Sleep disturbances are possible as well as irritability.
The Tolerable Upper Limit Level is 1,000 micrograms daily for both adult females and males.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake of folic acid for adult females and males is 400 micrograms daily.

Food Sources
The best food sources of folic acid include:
• Liver
• Green leafy vegetables.
Good sources include:
• Lima beans
• Asparagus
• Broccoli, nuts and whole grains,
• Fortified bread, rice, macaroni, noodles, cereals,
• Oranges and orange juice, and lentils.

 

Vitamin B-12 also known as Cobalamin

 

Functions

• Vitamin B-12 works closely with folic acid to make red blood cells.
• Vitamin B-12 is necessary for a healthy nervous system.
• It helps the body to use fat acids and some amino acids.

Deficiencies
A lack of Vitamin B-12 may lead to:
• Anemia
• Fatigue
• Nerve damage, stomach problems, and a smooth tongue,
• Very sensitive skin.


A Vitamin B-12 deficiency can be masked by taking extra folic acid. Some people have a medical problem called pernicious anemia in which Vitamin B-12 is not absorbed from the intestines properly. They are missing a body chemical called intrinsic factor that comes from the stomach lining. Others have a diseased intestine or have had a large part of their stomachs or intestines removed. These conditions require treatment with Vitamin B-12 injections. Strict vegetarians, who eat no animal products, are at risk for developing a Vitamin B-12 deficiency. The elderly are also at risk for Vitamin B-12 deficiency since 10-30% of this group absorbs food-bound Vitamin B-12 poorly. If not managed, this could cause severe anemia and irreversible nerve damage. It is important to include a variety of Vitamin B-12 fortified foods or a dietary supplement to prevent these problems.

Excesses
There are no known symptoms of taking excessive amounts of Vitamin B-12. Extra Vitamin B-12 does not boost energy levels. A Tolerable Upper Intake Level has not yet been determined due to a lack of data of adverse effects.

Amount Needed
Adult females and males need 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 daily.

Food Sources
The best sources of vitamin B-12 include animal products such as:
• Organ meats
• Beef
• Pork
• Fish
• Poultry, eggs, milk, and other dairy foods.
Some foods are fortified with vitamin B-12 and are fair sources.

 

Biotin

 

Functions

• Biotin helps produce energy in your cells.
• It helps metabolize protein, fat and carbohydrates. Biotin is required by the body in order for four specific enzymes to function properly in metabolism.

Deficiencies
A biotin deficiency is extremely rare in people who eat a healthy diet. In rare cases, the folllowing symptoms may appear:
• Heart abnormalities
• Appetite loss
• Fatigue and depression
• Dry skin
• Low blood sugar between meals, acidic blood, and high blood ammonia.
A chemical in raw egg whites prevents the body from absorbing biotin. This problem is prevented by cooking eggs, which destroys avidins ability to bind the biotin.

Excesses
There are currently no reported effects of consuming excess amounts of biotin. Therefore the Tolerable Upper Intake Level has not been determined.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake for both adult females and males is 30 micrograms daily.

Food Sources
Biotin is found in a variety of foods. Good sources include:
• Eggs
• Liver
• Yeast breads
• Cereals, chocolate and peanuts
• Cauliflower, nuts, peas, and mushrooms.
Fair food sources include milk. Biotin is also produced by the bacteria naturally found in the intestines.

 

Pantothenic Acid

Functions

• Helps with the breakdown and utilization of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
• It also helps the body produce energy in the cells.
• Is involved in antibody production, adrenal activity, growth and metabolism.

Deficiencies
A deficiency of pantothenic acid is rarely a problem for those who eat a healthy diet.

Excesses
The only symptoms of excessive intake are occasional diarrhea and water retention. An excess may trigger a thiamine deficiency. No Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been determined for pantothenic acid due to a lack of data on adverse effects.

Amount Needed
The amount needed by both adult females and males is 5 milligrams daily.

Food Sources
Pantothenic acid is found widespread in plant and animal foods. The best sources are:
• Meat, poultry, fish,
• Whole-grain products and legumes
• Eggs.

Good sources include:
• Broccoli and cauliflower
• Mushrooms
• Bran,
• Sweet potatoes, potatoes and lima beans
• Soybeans, peanuts, peas, oatmeal, and cheese.

 

Vitamin C

 

Functions

• Forms collagen, a connective tissue, which gives strength and structure by holding together muscles, bones, and other tissues.
• It helps to build, repair, and maintain red blood cells, bones, and other tissues.
• Gives strength and flexibility to blood vessels and capillary walls. This helps to prevent bruising.
• Helps the body to absorb iron found in plant foods.
• Vitamin C is necessary for cuts and wounds to heal. It keeps the gums healthy and protects the body from infection by keeping the immune system strong and healthy.

Deficiencies
A lack of vitamin C can lead to a disease called scurvy. Scurvy causes:
• Muscle weakness
• Swollen and bleeding gums
• Loss of teeth
• Bleeding under the skin, bruising and poor wound healing
• Tiredness and depression.

Excesses
Vitamin C is water-soluble, so the body excretes any excess consumed. However, very large doses may cause kidney stones and diarrhea. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 2,000 milligrams for both adult females and males.

Amount Needed
Adult females need 75 milligrams of vitamin C daily and adult males need 90 milligrams daily. People who smoke need about twice as much vitamin C daily.

Food Sources
High in Vitamin C:
Fruits and vegetables that contain 12 mg or more vitamin C per reference amount (20% of the Daily Value per reference amount) qualify to carry the label “high in vitamin C.” These include-

  • Apricots
  • Beans, Yellow Snap
  • Bell Pepper
  • Blackberries
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Cabbage, Green
  • Cabbage, Pe-Tsai
  • Cabbage, Red
  • Cantaloupe
  • Carambola
  • Cauliflower
  • Cauliflower, Green
  • Collard Greens
  • Chili Pepper, Hot
  • Gooseberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Guavas
  • Kiwifruit
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Melon, Honeydew
  • Okra
  • Onion
  • Orange
  • Papaya
  • Pepper, Le Rouge Royale
  • Pineapple
  • Potato
  • Prickly Pears
  • Pummelo
  • Radishes
  • Raspberries
  • Rutabagas
  • Spinach
  • Squash, Summer
  • Strawberries
  • Sweet Potato
  • Tangerines
  • Tomato
  • Watermelon

Good Source of Vitamin C:
Fruits and vegetables that contain 6 mg to less than 12 mg vitamin C per reference amount (10-19% of the Daily Value per reference amount) qualify to carry the label “good source of vitamin C.” These include-

  • Artichoke
  • Asparagus
  • Banana
  • Blueberries
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Cherries, Sweet
  • Corn
  • Cucumber
  • Green Beans
  • Mango
  • Nectarines
  • Peaches
  • Pear
  • Plums

 

 

Minerals

 

What are the first few things that come to mind when we think of minerals? Are they rocks, stones, and metal pieces? How can these be of benefit to our bodies? Minerals are another group of nutrients (along with vitamins) needed by our bodies. They have two general body functions:

• To regulate our body processes
• To give our body structure.

Their regulating functions include a wide variety of systems, such as:

• Heartbeat
• Blood clotting
• Maintenance of the internal pressure of body fluids
• Nerve responses the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.
Their building functions affect the skeleton and all soft tissues.

Minerals make up only a small percentage of your body—about 4 % of the body weight. However, they are essential to life. Being very stable, they cannot be destroyed by light, water, heat or food handling processes. In fact, the little bit of ash that remains when a food is completely burned is the mineral content.

Minerals can be divided into two main categories, based on the amount that is needed by the body:

• Macrominerals-

These are present in relatively large amounts in the body and are required in fairly large amounts in the diet — more than 250 milligrams daily. Calcium, phosphorus, and magnesium fall into this category as well as the electrolytes sodium, chloride, sulfur, and potassium. The electrolytes are grouped together because their work is so interrelated. They help regulate cellular fluid and transmit nerve impulses.

• Microminerals-

These are trace minerals or trace elements needed in much smaller quantities—less than 20 milligrams daily. Most trace minerals do not occur in the body in their free form, but are bound to organic compounds on which they depend for transport, storage, and functioning. Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA) have been set for copper, iodine, iron, magnesium, molybdenum, selenium, and zinc. Adequate Intakes (AI) have been set for chromium, fluoride, and manganese. Both RDAs and AI may be used as goals for individual intake needs. Other trace minerals have been identified, including tin, arsenic, silicon, vanadium, nickel, and boron. However, even less is known about their role in health and presently no adequate or safe intake ranges have been set. Therefore, a balanced diet that includes a variety of foods in a moderate amount is the best way to consume a safe and adequate amount.

 

Major Minerals

 

Calcium

 

Functions
Calcium is present in the body in greater amounts that any other mineral.

• Calcium builds strong bones in both length and density and is vital to the formation of teeth.
• There is about 2 - 3 pounds of calcium in the body, mostly concentrated in the bones and teeth. Small amounts of calcium circulate in the blood stream and help with muscle and heart contractions, nerve functions, and blood clotting.

Deficiencies
• For children, a lack of calcium can interfere with growth and keep them from reaching their potential adult height.
• Throughout life, a lack of calcium can weaken bone density and result in osteoporosis or brittle bone disease.

Excesses
Extremely large amounts of calcium over a long period of time can result in calcium deposits in soft organs, kidney stone development, or poor kidney functioning. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 2,500 milligrams daily.

Amount Needed
The recommended amount of calcium for male and female adults, ages 19-50, is 1,000 milligrams daily. The amount increases to 1,200 milligrams daily for those over age 51.

Age Male Female Pregnant Lactating
0–6 months* 200 mg 200 mg    
7–12 months* 260 mg 260 mg    
1–3 years 700 mg 700 mg    
4–8 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg    
9–13 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg    
14–18 years 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg 1,300 mg
19–50 years 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg 1,000 mg
51–70 years 1,000 mg 1,200 mg    
71+ years 1,200 mg 1,200 mg    

*Chart Source: National Institutes of Health, June 2011

Food Sources
The best sources include milk and milk products such as cheese and yogurt. Good sources include:
• Green leafy vegetables
• Canned sardines and salmon with the bones
• Calcium-fortified juices.

Fair sources include:
• Legumes
• Shellfish
• Almonds
• Calcium-fortified soymilk, tofu made with calcium sulfate, and soybeans.

 

Phosphorus

 

Functions

• Phosphorus is a major component of bones and teeth, second only to calcium.
• It helps to regulate energy metabolism and generate energy in every cell through enzyme activity.

Deficiencies
Is widely distributed in foods, so a deficiency is rare

Excesses
Too much phosphorus in relationship to calcium can lower the level of calcium in the blood and result in bone loss. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 4,000 milligrams for adults from ages 19-70, and 3,000 milligrams for age 71 and above.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake of phosphorus is 700 milligrams daily for both adult females and males.
Food Sources
The best sources of phosphorus include:
• Meat
• Fish, poultry, and eggs.

Good sources are:
• Milk
• Cheese, and dairy products.

Whole-grain foods and legumes are fair sources.

 

Magnesium

 

Functions

• Magnesium is an essential part of more than 300 enzymes in the body.
• These enzymes are body chemicals that help to regulate body functions, produce energy, make protein and contract muscles.
• Magnesium is found in all body tissues, but principally in the bones.

Deficiencies
Deficiency is not generally a problem except in alcoholics, some post-surgery patients, and in rare diseases when the body does not absorb magnesium properly. Symptoms can include:
• Weakness
• Nausea
• Irregular heartbeat, and mental confusion.

Excesses
An excess intake can cause diarrhea and nervous system disturbances. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for magnesium represents an intake in a pharmacological or dietary supplement form ONLY. This does not include intake from food and water. This amount has been set at 350 milligrams for both adult females and males.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake for adult females, age 19-30 is 310 milligrams daily and 320 milligrams for age 31 and above. The recommended intake for adult males, age 19-30 is 400 milligrams daily and 420 milligrams for age 31 and above.

Food Sources
The best sources of magnesium include wheat germ and bran. Good sources include:
• Whole grain products
• Nuts, legumes
• Some green leafy vegetables.

Major Minerals – Electrolytes

 

Chloride

 

Functions

• Helps to regulate fluids in and out of the body cells.
• It is part of hydrochloric acid, a stomach acid important for the digestion of food and absorption of nutrients.
• Helps to transmit nerve impulses.

Deficiencies
Chloride and sodium are the two elements, which combine to form sodium chloride (table salt). Since salt is such a common part of the diet, a deficiency of chloride is rare. Having diarrhea or vomiting for an extended time period can bring on a chloride deficiency, resulting in nausea, dizziness, and muscle cramping.

Excesses
For people who have sensitivity to chloride, there may be a link to high blood pressure, kidney disease, and congestive heart failure. Since sodium chloride is found together in most foods, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for sodium chloride is 5.8 grams each day for adult males and females.

Amount Needed
For adult females and males the recommended amount of sodium chloride is 3.8 grams each day (about 1½ teaspoons of salt).

Food Sources
Table salt is made of sodium chloride. Therefore salt and salty foods are the best source of chloride. ¼ teaspoon salt contains 750 milligrams of chloride.

 

Potassium

 

Functions

• Potassium help to regulate body fluids and mineral balance in and out of body cells.
• It is involved in maintaining blood pressure, transmitting nerve impulses, and helping muscles and heart to contract.

Deficiencies
On average, the potassium intake in the United States is well below the recommended intake level. This may be a contributing factor in high blood pressure. Also, with prolonged diarrhea, vomiting, or laxative use, a potassium deficiency may occur. Kidney problems may also cause severe loss. A deficiency will result in the following symptoms:
• Weakness,
• Appetite loss
• Nausea and fatigue.

Excesses
An excess potassium intake is rare. However, if excess potassium cannot be excreted, it can cause heart problems. Certain kidney diseases make it difficult for some to excrete excess potassium. Then a potassium-restricted diet is necessary and the salt substitute potassium chloride should be avoided. No Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been established.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake of potassium for adult females and males is 4.7 grams each day. Most adults receive only 2.1 to 3.2 grams daily.

Food Sources
The best sources of potassium include:
• Dried fruits
• Nuts
• Green leafy vegetables
• Mushrooms, bran
• Wheat germ
• Yams
• Bananas, and oranges.

Good sources include many other fruits and vegetables as well as meats, fish, poultry, and legumes.

 

Sodium

 

Functions

• Sodium is found mainly in blood plasma and in the fluids outside the body cells.
• It helps regulate the movement of body fluids in and out of the body cells.
• Helps the muscles and heart to relax.
• It is involved in the transmission of nerve impulses and helps to regulate blood pressure.

Deficiencies
Sodium and chloride are the two elements that combine to form sodium chloride (table salt). Since salt is such a common part of the diet, a deficiency of sodium is rare. Having diarrhea, vomiting, or heavy sweat loss for an extended time period can bring on a sodium deficiency, resulting in nausea, dizziness, and muscle cramping.

Excesses
In healthy people, excess sodium is excreted. Some kidney diseases interfere with sodium excretion, causing fluid retention and swelling. For people who are sodium sensitive, a diet high in sodium can promote high blood pressure. For adult males and females, the Tolerable Upper Intake Level for sodium is 2.3 grams each day or 5.8 grams of sodium chloride.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake of sodium for adult males and females is set at 1.5 grams each day. Because sodium and chloride are found together in most foods, the recommendation is also set for sodium chloride. For adult males and females the recommended amount of sodium chloride is 3.8 grams each day (about 1½ teaspoons of salt).

Food Sources
Table salt is made of sodium chloride. Therefore salt and salty foods are the best source of sodium. ¼ teaspoon salt contains 500 milligrams of sodium. Sodium is also found in products containing baking powder, onion salt, garlic salt, and monosodium glutamate (MSG).

 

Sulfate

 

Functions/Needs

Sulfate is found in all body tissues and is essential to life. It is related to protein nutrition and is a component of several important amino acids. It is also a part of thiamine and biotin, two vitamins. Sulfate is found in protein foods and is obtained by the body from protein turnover of sulfur-containing amino acids. No recommendation for intake or Tolerable Upper Intake.

 

Trace Minerals

 

Arsenic

 

Functions/Needs
No biological function has been determined in humans; however, animal data indicate a requirement. Due to a lack of scientific data, no recommendation for intake or Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been determined.

 

Boron

 

Functions/Needs

No clear biological function in humans has been identified, although data from animal studies indicate a role. Due to a lack of scientific data, no recommendation for intake has been set.

Upper Intake Level
The Tolerable for adult females and males is 20 milligrams each day.

 

Chromium

 

Functions

• Acts with insulin to help your body use glucose or blood sugar.
• It is also involved in cardiovascular health.

Deficiencies
A deficiency can produce a diabetes-like condition.

Excesses
Consuming excessive amounts from dietary sources in very unlikely. Due to a lack of data on adverse effects, a Tolerable Upper Intake Level has not been determined.

Amount Needed
Adult females ages 19-50 need 25 micrograms daily, while females age 51 and older need 20 micrograms each day. Adult males ages 19-50 need 35 micrograms each day. Males 51 years of age and older need 30 micrograms daily.

Food Sources
The best food sources of chromium are:
• Whole grains
• Meats, eggs
• Cheese
• Mushrooms, asparagus, and brewer’s yeast.

 

Copper

 

Functions

• Involved in the making of hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is needed for the transportation of oxygen in the red blood cells.
• It also serves as a part of many enzymes.
• Copper helps to produce energy in the cells.

Deficiencies
A dietary copper deficiency is rare. However a deficiency can occur with some genetic disorders. Because zinc can hinder copper absorption, an overdose with zinc supplements can cause deficiency symptoms.

Excesses
An excess of copper from dietary sources is very rare. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 10,000 micrograms for both adult men and women.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake for copper is 900 micrograms for adult females and males.

 Food Sources
The best sources of copper include:

• Organ meats
• Seafood
• Nuts
• Seeds, dried beans and peas.

Cooking in copper pots also increases the copper content of foods.

 

Fluoride

 

Functions

• Fluoride hardens tooth enamel and results in a decrease of tooth decay.
• It may also help retain calcium in the bones of older adults, therefore strengthening the bones.

Deficiencies
When there is a deficiency of fluoride, tooth enamel may be weakened.

Excesses
When there is an excess of fluoride, the teeth may be marked with brown stains and deformed, or “mottled.” The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 10 milligrams of fluoride daily.

Amount Needed
Adult females and males need 4 milligrams of fluoride daily.

Food Sources
The best sources of fluoride include water that is naturally or chemically fluoridated, foods prepared with fluoridated water, and fluoride supplements. Fluoride is not widely available in food. The content found in food varies significantly and is affected by the environment in which the food originated.

 

Iodine

 

Functions

• Iodine is required in extremely small amounts, but the normal functioning of the thyroid gland depends on an adequate supply.
• Iodine is part of the thyroid hormone called thyroxin. This hormone regulates the rate at which your body uses energy.

Deficiencies
• When there is an iodine deficiency, the body cannot make enough thyroxin. The body will burn calories more slowly and weight gain may become a concern.
• The thyroid gland may enlarge, causing a goiter.
• A deficiency can also cause neurological, gastrointestinal and skin abnormalities. With the use of iodized salt, iodine deficiency is rare.

Excesses
Goiter development can also occur when people consume a high level of iodine. An excess of iodine over time can also depress thyroid activity. The Tolerable Upper Limit Level is 1,100 micrograms for both adult males and females.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake of iodine is 150 micrograms for both female and male adults.

Food Sources
The best sources of iodine include saltwater fish, seaweed, and iodized salt. Foods grown near coastal areas also contain iodine. In other foods, content varies according to soil and water content. One-half teaspoon of iodized salt provides almost enough iodine to reach daily needs.

 

Iron

 

Functions

• Iron is an essential part of hemoglobin, which transports oxygen to the cells and makes use of the oxygen when it arrives.
• Iron is widely distributed in the body. It is found in the blood, liver, spleen and bone marrow.

Deficiencies
An iron deficiency can lead to anemia, along with fatigue, weakness, and increased risk for infections.

Excesses
Iron can build up to dangerously high levels in the body, especially in people with the genetic problem called hemochromatosis. Over supplementation of iron can also occur. This is especially dangerous in children who may take adult vitamin/mineral supplements. Immediate medical attention should be obtained. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 45 milligrams daily for both adult males and females

Amount Needed
Adult females age 19-50 need 18 milligrams, while females’ age 51 and older need only 8 milligrams daily. The recommended intake for adult males is 8 milligrams daily.

Food Sources
Iron is available from foods of both animal (heme iron) and plant (non-heme iron) origin. It is better absorbed from heme iron sources. Absorption of iron is enhanced when vitamin C foods are eaten with iron rich foods. Iron cookware also adds to the iron content of cooked foods. The best sources of iron include:
• Liver and other organ meats
• Oysters, and black strap molasses.

Good food sources include spinach, beans, and peas. Fair sources include:
• Lean meats and other shellfish
• Egg yolks
• Nuts
• Dried fruit and some green leafy vegetables
• Whole grains, poultry, and fish.

 

Manganese

 

Functions

• Manganese serves as part of many enzymes and is involved in fat and carbohydrate synthesis.
• It is needed for normal tendon, bone structure, and pancreas development. Manganese is involved in muscle contraction.

Deficiencies
A manganese deficiency is rare since it is available in so many foods.

Excesses
Consuming harmful levels from foods is very rare. An overdose risk is unknown. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 11 milligrams for both adult males and females.

Amount Needed
For adult females the recommendation is 1.8 milligrams. The recommended intake for adult males is 2.3 milligrams.

Food Sources
The best food sources include:
• Whole grains
• Beans
• Peas
• Nuts
• Some fruits and vegetables, tea, and cloves.

 

Molybdenum

 

Functions

• Molybdenum works along with riboflavin to incorporate the iron stored in the body into hemoglobin for making red blood cells.
• It is also a part of many enzymes.

Deficiencies
A deficiency is rare. However if the body does not get enough molybdenum, certain enzymes needed by the body are affected.

Excesses
An excess of molybdenum may interfere with the body’s ability to use copper. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 2,000 micrograms daily.

Amount Needed
The recommended amount of molybdenum is 45 micrograms daily for both adult females and males

Food Sources
The best food sources include:
• Milk
• Meats
• Legumes
• Bread, and grain products.

 

Nickel

 

Functions / Needs

No clear biological function in humans has been identified. Nickel may serve as a co-factor for metalloenzymes. Due to a lack of scientific data, no recommendation has been set. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for adult females and males is 1.0 milligram each day.

 

Selenium

 

Functions

• Selenium works as an antioxidant with vitamin E to protect cells from damage that may lead to cancer, heart disease, and other health problems.
• Selenium appears to have a sparing action on vitamin E.

Deficiencies
The effects of a deficiency of selenium are not clear, but may involve the heart muscle or thyroid functioning.

Excesses
The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 400 micrograms for both adult males and females.

Amount Needed
The recommended intake level is 55 micrograms for both adult females and males.

Food Sources
The best food sources of selenium are seafood, liver, kidney and meats. Grain products and seed also contain selenium, but the amount depends on the selenium content of the soil in which they are grown.

 

Silicon

 

Functions / Needs

No biological function in humans has been identified. Silicon may be involved in bone formation, based on animal studies. Due to a lack of scientific data, no recommendation or Tolerable Upper Intake Level has been determined.

 

Vanadium

 

Functions / Needs

No biological function in humans has been identified. Due to a lack of data, no recommendation has been set. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for adult females and males is 1.8 milligrams each day.

 

Zinc

 

Functions

• Promotes cell reproduction and tissue growth and repair. It is essential for adequate growth.
• Is involved in appetite regulation and taste and helps in wound healing. It is a part of more than 70 enzymes.
• It assists in the utilization of carbohydrate, protein and fat.

Deficiencies
A lack of zinc during pregnancy can lead to mental retardation and birth defects. Zinc deficiency can lead to poor night vision and poor wound healing. Other symptoms include:
• Appetite loss
• Taste changes
• Decrease in the sense of smell, skin changes, and reduced resistance to infections.

Excesses
An excess intake is rare but can have harmful effects including impaired copper absorption. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level is 40 milligrams for both adult males and females.

Amount Needed
The recommended amount of zinc is 8 milligrams daily for adult females and 11 milligrams daily for adult males.

Food Sources
The best food sources include:
• Meat
• Oysters
• Poultry
• Legumes
• Eggs, fish and seafood.

Good sources include:
• Wheat germ
• Whole grain products
• Black-eyed peas, and fermented soybean paste (miso).