What’s the first thing someone asks you when you haven’t been feeling well? Odds are, it’s going to be about your vitamins and minerals.
Are you getting enough vitamins and minerals? Sure, we all know how important these two things are, but why?
Surprisingly, not many people can answer this question because most people will rush off to GNC to buy the best kinds of pills and powders to build muscle. But not everyone will spend their money on healthier choices or even just a plain old multivitamin.
Here are the basic facts: your body needs a large amount of both vitamins and minerals in order to help you stay healthy but also keep you alive.
In fact, it’s as basic as needing things like carbs, fats, protein and even water. So if you aren’t giving your body what it needs, you are going to find that your health and your overall performance will go down.
So we want to talk about what exactly vitamins and minerals are, which kinds your body needs the most and how to make sure you’re giving your body what it needs.
First, let’s define the two…
What Is The Difference Between Vitamins And Minerals?
Vitamins are basically the pills that living things need in order for their cells to grow, function and develop in a healthy way. Because organisms can’t make their own vitamins, they have to get them from other things, like diets or other sources including the sun or bacteria that can be found in the gut.
There are certain types of vitamins that are water-soluble, meaning that they will separate when put into water and also leave your body when you go to the bathroom. There are 9 water-soluble vitamins total. These include 1 vitamin C and 8 vitamin B’s.
As for the other kinds of vitamins, they are fat-soluble. This just means that they need certain dietary fats in order to be absorbed. These vitamins, aren’t exactly the easiest to get rid of. If you eat more than your body needs, you could suffer from vitamin poisoning, also known as hypervitaminosis. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, there are only 4 of these fat-soluble. These are vitamins A, D E and K.
As for minerals, these are the substances that don’t have any carbon (while vitamins do). Generally, minerals can be found naturally in Earth. They are just as important as vitamins are, since they are needed for so many different functions, like making hormones, building bones and keeping your heartbeat in check.
Some minerals you might get every day, like sulfur, calcium, sodium, magnesium, potassium, chloride, and phosphorus. These are called macrominerals and your body needs a good amount of these in order to keep functioning normally.
There are also trace minerals, which you only need less of. These minerals are fluoride, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt and manganese.
Essential Vitamins And Minerals My Body Needs
So now we want to look at the best vitamins and minerals your body needs. We will give you a quick rundown of the acronyms:
- RDA = The Recommended Dietary Allowances. This is the total daily intake you need for good health.
- AI = Adequate Intake Level. This is a more general suggestion in terms of intake. It’s generally taking the place of RDA.
- UL = Tolerable Upper Intake Level. The higher limit of intake which is safe for the everyday person. You want to keep this level or a little bit below dosages so that you don’t overdose.
How Vitamins And Minerals Are Measured…
Before we jump in, we also want to talk about how both vitamins and minerals are measured. Large doses are generally measured in milligrams. Tiny baby doses are 1/1000th of 1 gram and small doses are measured in micrograms.
Some vitamins (including D and A) are usually measured with IU’s (International Units), the measurement depends on the change the mineral has on our body.
So now we’re going to see what kinds of vitamins and minerals your body needs (not in any order). Now, the dosages are based off of RDA and AL numbers that were supplied by the Institute of Medicine and apply to adults 18+ years.
First up is Zinc, which falls into the trace element section. It’s used in the making of things like cells, proteins, and enzymes, as well as the release of vitamin A from the liver. Plus, it can help boost your immune system.
For men, you want to aim for 11 mg a day and 8 mg a day for women. You can get it from foods like oysters, beef, milk and even cashews. But don’t go over 40 mg…that’s the maximum dose.
Biotin is second, also called Vitamin B7 or H. It plays a surprisingly big role in helping cells grow as well as the metabolism of the food you eat. Your body should have about 30 mcg on a daily basis. You can get this vitamin from whole grains, eggs, salmon, and avocados. but, there isn’t a maximum amount known, so you will have to take it easy and just listen to your body.
Next up is a pretty popular one, calcium. This macromineral helps develop teeth and bones and plays a hand in hormones, muscle function, blood pressure and even nerves. You want about 1,000 mg a day and of course, you can get it from things like diary, (both milk, yogurt and cheese), bok choy, tofu, and spinach. As for a maximum, it’s about 2,500 mg a day.
Vitamin E is next since it’s an antioxidant that helps stop anything bad happen to our cells and keeps any free radicals under wraps. This should be about 15 mg a day and comes from foods like avocados, almonds, canola oil, and hazelnuts. Go for 1,000 mg a day for this one.
More Vitamins And Minerals That Our Body Needs…
This one you might already have in your diet already: potassium. Potassium is a macromineral that helps your muscles and nerves talk, it also helps with moving nutrients and fluids into the cells, while putting waste products out.
You can easily get a good dose of potassium from bananas, baked potatoes, raisins and artichokes. Your body needs about 4,700 mg of potassium a day, but there isn’t a clear answer how much is too much.
This might come as a surprise to some, but your body actually needs sodium. As a part of sodium chloride, you might call this table salt. While it has gotten a bad rap over the years, it’s actually a big part of keeping the cell fluid balance under control, while helping with digestion of foods, keeping an eye on blood pressure, nerve signals and muscles.
People in the United States have too much sodium in their diets. That’s because we’re eating too much of deli meat, canned and various other pre-packed foods (because the companies use salt as a preservative), table salt, spices, condiments, sauces, salad dressings and even cheese. You can easily cut back on your sodium by swapping out some of these foods for others. Your body only needs 2,300 mg of sodium a day, so keep that in mind.
Phosphorus is another macromineral that helps us not only build bones and DNA, but also protect them. It helps by moving nutrients to organs, as well as the metabolism of the food we eat. You want to go for 700 mg of this a day, because that’s what your body needs. You can get this from a few different foods, including dairy, yogurt, cheese, salmon, eggs and chicken. The max dose for this is 4,000 mg daily.
Vitamin K is another big one, not to be confused with potassium, whose chemical signal is K, vitamin K is actually a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a big role in helping develop and heal bones.
In terms of how much your body needs, it varies depending on your sex. Men, it’s about 120 mcg a day, while women it’s only 90. You can get a healthy dose of vitamin K through broccoli, parsley, and Swiss chard.
What Food Can I Get These Vitamins And Minerals From?
Since we’re talking about vitamins, let’s go onto vitamin D next, which is also a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for our immune systems, the way our nervous system works and even the density of our bones.
Now a big thing about vitamin D is that our body isn’t able to produce it without getting exposure to the sun. When you go outside and expose your skin to the sun’s UVB rays, they actually work together with a type of cholesterol that we have in our bodies and just like that, vitamin D is made. So the more often you’re in the sun (and the stronger the rays are), the more vitamin D your body is going to make.
In terms of how much your body needs, that’s kind of up in the air. The Institute of Medicine said that 600 IU on a daily basis is enough for people between the ages of 1 and 70.
But, scientists say that this number is way too low causing vitamin D deficiencies. A group from the U.S. Endocrine Society met recently to decide. Their results? They said 600-1000 IU on a daily basis should be enough for those between the ages of 1-18 with 1,500-2,000 for anyone over the age of 19.
It can be hard to get vitamin D from foods but you can get it from things like egg yolks, canned tuna and salmon. An added bonus! You don’t need to worry about taking too much unless you shoot up to 40,000 IU a day for months at a time. Don’t worry, that’s probably not going to happen.
We’ll touch on vitamin C, which is probably one of the most commonly known vitamins. This also helps with healing wounds, but also gives your immune system a major boost, while keeping tissues, teeth and gums healthy. Guys, go for 90 mg of vitamin C a day, while the ladies should aim for 75 mg. If you’re a smoker, you want to add an extra 35 mg onto your number.
Of course the best place to get vitamin C is from oranges but you can also get it from tomatoes, strawberries, grapefruits, broccoli and red peppers, with your body being able to take up to 2,000 mg of it a day.
Generally, most of these are related to breaking down food and creating hormones and red blood cells. You only need 1.3 mg of this a day, so eat foods like chicken, bananas, salmon, potatoes (with the skin) and cooked spinach. Your body can have up to 100 mg of this a day.
Second to last on our list is Iron, which is actually one of the most rich metals you can find on Earth. As for us humans, it’s a huge part of getting proteins that are able to move oxygen, as well as making our cells grow. Men should have 8 mg of iron a day, while women need 18 mg a day.
To avoid a deficiency, eat foods like oysters, potatoes, raisins, beef, tofu, cashews and cooked lentils. Your body can handle up to 45 mg of iron a day.
Finally, we’re going to leave you with vitamin A. Also a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin A is a big part of having good vision, a healthy immune system and reproductive health and keeping major organs (like the heart, kidneys, lungs and various other organs) working smoothly. Guys should have 900 mcg of this a day, while ladies shoot for 700 mcg. As for foods, eat things like kale, eggs, sweet potatoes, cod liver oil, butternut squash and cantaloupe.
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