nutrient directory

NUTRIENT DIRECTORY:

As you all know, I am all about incorporating as many whole foods into our daily meals as possible. Whole foods are nutrient dense, as opposed to processed foods that are just that – processed. They may contain added vitamins, but they loose their nutrient content through processing, as well as their fiber.

Here is guide of vitamins and minerals, the nourishing role they play in the body, and the amounts needed. Remember, this is purely a guideline.

TERMS TO KNOW:

Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA): This represents the average daily intake of each vitamin and mineral that a person needs to maintain health. It is categorized by age and gender.

Adequate Intake (AI): If there is no scientific evidence on a vitamin or mineral, an AI is set instead of an RDA. It is the average daily amount of a nutrient that appears sufficient to maintain health. It is mainly used as a guide if an RDA cannot be determined.

Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): This is the maximum daily amount of a nutrient that appears safe for most healthy people. Consuming more than UL can lead to a health risk.

VITAMINS (water soluble): Water-soluble vitamins move directly into the blood, and circulate freely in water filled compartments of the body. Water soluble vitamins tend to be excreted easily, as opposed to fat soluble vitamins that remain in fat-storage sites (and can reach toxic levels easier). Because they are excreted easily, they must be eaten more regularly.

  • B1 (Thiamin): Needed for carbohydrate metabolism, as well as membrane and nerve conduction. B1 is important for the flow of electrolytes in and out of the nerve and muscle cells.

Sources: whole grains, quinoa, millet, legumes, nuts, seeds, and pork

RDA: Men – 1.2mg/day

Women – 1.1mg/day

  • B2 (Riboflavin): Needed for carbohydrate metabolism, healthy skin, hair, nails, and muscles. It neutralizes free radicals that can damage cells and DNA.

Sources: milk and milk products, eggs, legumes, dark green leafy vegetables (such as spinach)

RDA: Men – 1.3mg/day

Women – 1.1mg/day

  • B3 (Niacin): Needed for energy metabolism, helps the body utilize fats and proteins, and supports healthy skin, hair, and nails. It also supports the proper functioning of the nervous system.

Sources: protein sources, fish (such as tuna or halibut), beef and pork, veal, nuts, seeds, and to a lesser extent, green vegetables and milk

RDA: Men – 16mg/day

Women – 14mg/day

  • B5 (Pantothenic Acid): Important for energy metabolism and the synthesis of lipids, neurotransmitters, steroid hormones, and hemoglobin.

Sources: found in all plant and animal foods – vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, and beans

RDA: Men – 1.3mg/day

Women – 1.3mg/day

  • B6 (Pyridoxine): Important because the body uses B6 to make nonessential amino acids, thus critical in protein metabolism. Also important in the synthesis of heme, the non-protein portion of hemoglobin. B6 Helps make several neurotransmitters that carry signals from one cell to another. It helps the body make the hormones serotonin and norepinephrine, which influence mood and melatonin, which in turn regulate our internal body clock.

Sources: meat, fish, poultry, potatoes and other starchy vegetables, legumes, and non-citrus fruits

RDA: Men – 1.3mg/day

Women – 1.3mg/day

  • B7 (Biotin): Essential for growth and important in helping the body break down and use food. B7 also plays a key role in the production of hormones and cholesterol.

Sources: chicken, beef, potatoes, oats, tomatoes, liver, egg yolk, broccoli, and whole grains

RDA: Men – 5mg/day

Women – 5mg/day

  • Folate (also known as folacin or folic acid): Important for protein metabolism, blood cell formation, and preventing neural tube defects in newborns. The folate in fortified foods is in the form of monoglutamate, and in naturally occurring foods, it is in the form of polyglutamate.

Sources: leafy green vegetables, fortified grains, legumes, seeds, and liver

RDA: Men – 400ug/day

Women – 400ug/day

  • B12 (cobalamin): Requires folate to be activated in the body. Important for the normal functioning of the brain and nervous system, as well as formation of blood cells.

Sources: meat, fish, poultry, shellfish, milk, cheese, eggs, and fortified cereals

RDA: Men – 2.4ug/day

Women – 2.4ug/day

  • Vitamin C: Important for growth and repair of tissues. It helps make collagen, which is an important protein used to make skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, and blood vessels. It improves the absorption of iron from food. It is an important antioxidant, and helps immune function.

Sources: citrus fruits, cabbage type vegetables (such as Brussels sprouts and cauliflower), dark green vegetables, strawberries, lettuce, tomatoes, potatoes, and papayas

RDA: Men – 90mg/day

Women – 75mg/day

Smokers – +35mg/day

VITAMINS (fat-soluble): Unlike water soluble vitamins, these vitamins enter the lymph system first, and then the blood. They also are stored in fat-storage sites, so they are more likely to reach toxic levels when consumed in excess.

  • Vitamin A: Important to help form and maintain healthy skin and teeth, promotes good vision, and is essential for maintaining healthy immune function.

Sources: fortified milk, cheese, butter in the form of retinol; spinach and dark leafy vegetables, broccoli, orange fruits and vegetables (such as squash, carrots, and sweet potatoes) in the form of beta-carotene

RDA: Men – 900ug/day

Women – 700ug/day

  • Vitamin D: Helps the body absorb calcium for healthy bones and teeth, and helps promote a healthy immune system. Studies indicate it can also be helpful with heart health.

Sources: salmon, sardines, egg yolk, shrimp, fortified milk, yogurt, and the sun

RDA: 19-25 years – 5ug/day

51-70 years – 10ug/day

over 70 years – 15ug/day

  • Vitamin E: An antioxidant important in protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals. It helps keep the immune system strong to fight viruses and infection, is involved in the formation of red blood cells, and helps the body use vitamin k.

Sources: leafy green vegetables, wheat germ, whole grains, liver, egg yolks, nuts, seeds, and fatty meats

 RDA: Men – 1000mg/day

Women – 1000mg/day

  • Vitamin K: Plays an important role in blood clotting  and plays an important role in bone health.

Sources: leafy green vegetables, bacteria in the gut, cabbage type vegetables, and milk

RDA: Men – 120ug/day

Women – 90ug/day

MINERALS:

  • Calcium: Supports skeletal structure and function, and is important in blood clotting, muscle contraction, and nerve function.

Sources: milk, yogurt, tofu, sardines, bok choy, broccoli, almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, tahini, blackstrap molasses, and dried beans

AI: 19-50 years – 1,000mg/day

Men (50-70 years) – 1,000mg/day

Women (50-70 years) – 1,200mg/day

Over 70 years – 1,200mg/day 

  • Chloride: Travels with sodium and water in the body and helps maintain fluid balance inside and outside of the cells. It is important in the production of the stomach acid, hydrochloric acid.

Sources: salt, soy sauce, milk, eggs, and small amounts in meat

AI: 19-50 years – 2300mg/day

51-70 – 2000mg/day

Over 70 years – 1800mg/day

  • Flouride: Protects teeth from demineralization. This occurs when bacteria that exists in the mouth combines with the sugars in our foods, producing acid that erodes the enamel and damages the teeth. It is helpful in preventing cavities and making teeth stronger.

AI: Men – 4.0mg/day

Women – 3.0mg/day

  • Iodine: An important mineral for the hormones made in the thyroid gland. These hormones are involved in energy production and are used by all the cells in your body.

Sources: sea vegetables, scallops, cod, yogurt, shrimp, and sardines

RDA: 14+ years – 220ug/day

  • Iron: An essential mineral for blood production. Most of our body’s iron is found in our red blood cells  (hemoglobin) and in our muscle cells (myoglobin). Hemoglobin transfers oxygen to the tissues in the body while myoglobin stores, transports, and releases oxygen.

Sources: beef, veal, turkey, chicken, fish, mussels, greens, tofu, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, lima beans, and cabbage

RDA: Men – 8mg/day

Women (ages 19-50) – 18mg/day

Ages 51-70 – 8mg/day

  • Magnesium: Helps maintain nerve and muscle function, supports a healthy immune system, helps keep bones strong, and maintains a healthy heart.

Sources: nuts, fruits, peas, beans, and whole grains

RDA: Men – 400-420 mg/day

Women – 310-320 mg/day

  • Molybdenum: Aids in metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, and helps break down certain amino acids in the body.

Sources: milk, cheese, legumes, nuts, leafy vegetables, and organ meats

RDA: 45ug/day

  • Phosphorous: Its main function is helping with the formation of bones and teeth. It helps in the formation of proteins in the body for growth, as well as maintenance and repair of cells. It is also involved in energy production in the form of ATP.

Sources: salmon, yogurt, milk, halibut, chicken, lentils, almonds, and eggs

RDA: Adults – 700mg/day

  • Potassium: An important electrolyte, crucial for heart function and muscle contraction for digestion.

Sources: meat, fish (such as salmon, cod, and flounder), fruits, vegetables, and legumes

AI: adults – 4700mg/day

  • Selenium: This is an antioxidant that helps fight free radicals that can damage cells and DNA in our body. It plays an important role in thyroid function and the immune system.

Sources: wheat germ, liver, butter, tuna, halibut, flounder, herring, oysters, scallops, lobster, garlic, sunflower seeds and Brazil nuts.

RDA: 55ug/day

  • Sodium: Essential in nerve impulses and muscle contraction, and helps regulate the total amount of water in the body.

AI: 19-50 years – 1500mg/day

51-70 years – 1300mg/day

Over 70 years – 1200mg/day

  • Sulfur: Involved in protein synthesis and helps with the production of collagen, which forms connective tissues, cell structure, and artery walls. It is also a component of keratin, which is found in hair, skin and nails.

Sources: dairy, eggs, beef, poultry, seafood, onions, garlic, turnips, seaweed, and raspberries

No RDA

  • Zinc: Essential for the immune system to function at its optimal level, and important for growth, development, and neurological functions.

 Sources: beef, pork, lamb, and dark meat of chicken

RDA: Men – 11mg/day

Women – 8mg/day