The body requires a certain amount of essential vitamins and minerals in order to function properly. Without these established average amounts in your diet it is possible to experience signs of nutritional deficiencies once nutrient stores are depleted. A lack of nutrients can eventually lead to health problems. Understanding the recommended daily allowance of vitamins and minerals, children and adults can make sure they are getting enough of these important nutrients from a healthy, well-balanced diet.
The RDA values, which have been updated by the Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine, National Academies, are now known as Dietary Reference Intakes, or DRIs. They are based on the average needs of the majority of the population. The values listed here are for children, aged four to eight and adult women and men. Values are listed as ug (mcg, micrograms), mg (milligrams) or g (grams).
Dietary Reference Intakes of Vitamins
There are several important vitamins that are considered essential and must be found from food and possibly supplement sources. For example, vitamins A, C and E all act as protective antioxidants. The B complex vitamins are important for energy production, metabolism and nervous system health. Vitamin D and K are important for bone health. All of these nutrients have a number of functions and many are necessary for the proper absorption and use of other nutrients.
- Vitamin A — 400ug for children; 700ug for women; 900ug for men
- Vitamin C — 25mg for children; 75mg for women; 90mg for men
- Vitamin D —15ug for children; 15ug for women; 15ug for men
- Vitamin E — 7mg for children; 15mg for women; 15mg for men
- Vitamin K — 55ug for children; 90ug for women; 120ug for men
- Thiamin — 0.6mg for children; 1.1mg for women; 1.2mg for men
- Riboflavin — 0.6mg for children; 1.1mg for women; 1.3mg for men
- Niacin — 8mg for children; 14mg for women; 16mg for men
- Vitamin B6 — 0.6mg for children; 1.3mg for women; 1.3mg for men
- Folate — 200ug for children; 400ug for women; 400ug for men
- Vitamin B12 — 1.2ug for children; 2.4ug for women; 2.4ug for men
Dietary Reference Intakes of Minerals
Minerals are also necessary for well-being and the proper functioning of the body. Calcium for example is important for bone health as well as mental well-being. Copper and zinc are both important for immune health and the healing process. Iodine is essential for proper thyroid functioning. Magnesium balances with calcium in the body and is important for proper nerve and muscle impulses, enzyme activity and the uptake of calcium and potassium. Phosphorus, which is found in most foods, is important for cell growth, normal heart rhythm, blood clotting and kidney function. Potassium balances with sodium to regulate the body’s water balance. It is also important for heart rhythm and a healthy nervous system.
- Calcium — 1,000mg for children, women and men
- Copper — 440ug for children; 900ug for women; 900ug for men
- Iodine — 90ug for children; 150ug for women; 150ug for men
- Iron — 10mg for children; 18mg for women; 8mg for men
- Magnesium — 130mg for children; 320mg for women; 420mg for men
- Phosphorus — 500mg for children; 700mg for women; 700mg for men
- Zinc — 5mg for children; 8mg for women; 11mg for men
- Potassium — 3.8g for children; 4.7g for women and men
- Sodium — 1.2g for children, 1.5g for women and men
Is it possible to get the recommended daily allowance of both vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet? Most certainly! Enjoying three to five servings of fresh fruits and vegetables each day, as well as whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes, dairy products, seafood and even some meat it is possible to consume what the body requires to thrive. The fresher and more natural the diet, the higher the vitamin and mineral content; the more processed, packaged food, the lower the nutritional content. Taking a multi-vitamin supplement may be right for many people, both children and adults. Talk to your doctor about what supplements are right for you.
Balch, Phyllis A. “Prescription for Nutritional Healing.” Fourth Edition (Penguin Books, 2006).
US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library. DRI Tables. https://fnic.nal.usda.gov/nal_display/index.php?info_center=4&tax_level=3&tax_subject=256&topic_id=1342&level3_id=5140
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