Vitamins: What You Need to Know About Them

Vitamins are micronutrients that help in many body processes. For example, a deficient amount of the B vitamin Niacin can contribute to pellagra, a disease that can have dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia. Left untreated, it can result in death. Having enough vitamins in day to day life is easier thanks to the National Academy of Sciences. They have provided the recommended daily allowance (the USRDA) for all vitamins and minerals. This indicates the amount necessary to meet the nutrient need of nearly 98% of healthy adults and children. This number may change as a person ages, becomes pregnant, or develops other conditions. The list below is from the USDA, National Institutes of Health and is for males 19years old or older and females 19years old or older who are not pregnant or lactating. “MG” is used for milligrams and “MCG” is used for micrograms.

Vitamin A
RDA Male: 900mcg (3000 IU)
RDA Female: 700mcg (2330 IU)
Major Function: Promotes healthy eyes, helps form skin, bones, and mucous membranes.
Food Source: Fish oil, dairy products, fruits and vegetables high in beta-carotene (like carrots, mangos, and tomatoes)

Vitamin B1 (Thiamine)
RDA Male: 1.2mg
RDA Female: 1.1mg
Major Function: Helps promote healthy nerve and brain cells, and helps cells convert carbs into energy
Food Source: Brewer’s yeast, meat, fish, nuts, soybeans, wheat germ, whole grains

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
RDA Male: 1.3mg
RDA Female: 1.1mg
Major Function: Promotes healthy skin and eyes, aids in converting carbs to energy, and is necessary for growth and production of red blood cells.
Food Source: Organ meats, meats, fish, milk, bread, fortified cereals, almonds, egg yolks

Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
RDA Male: 16mg
RDA Female: 14mg
Major Function: Promotes healthy skin, nerves and digestive system, plus converts food into energy
Food Source: Lean meats, fish, peanuts, wheat germ, poultry, dairy, brewer’s yeast

Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic Acid)
RDA Male and Female: No amount, however 5mg is the upper limit
Major Function: an essential vitamin for food metabolism and production of hormones
Food Source: Organ meats, beans, brewer’s yeast, egg yolk, whole grains

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
RDA Male (19-50yrs old): 1.3mg
RDA Male (51+years): 1.7mg
RDA Female (19-50yrs old): 1.3mg
RDA Female (51+years): 1.5mg
Major Function: involved in synthesis of hemoglobin and neurotransmitters, aids functioning of nervous and immune systems, essential for protein metabolism
Food Source: fortified cereal, beans, meats, fish, poultry, bananas, green leafy vegetables, nuts

Vitamin B12
RDA Male and Female: 2.4mcg
Major Function: maintains normal function of nervous system, essential for red blood cell production
Food Source: liver, meats, eggs, dairy, fortified cereal, poultry, fortified soy products

Biotin (a B vitamin)
RDA Male and Female: No amount, experts suggest 30-100mcg
Major Function: aids in food metabolism and in production of fatty acids and proteins
Food Source: liver, egg yolks, cheese, brewer’s yeast, peanuts, bananas, cauliflower, tomatoes, whole grains

Choline (a B vitamin)
RDA Male and Female: 425mg
Major Function: promotes fetal brain development, learning, and memory
Food Source: liver, egg yolks, wheat germ

Folate (a B vitamin; Folic Acid is the synthetic form)
RDA Male and Female: 400mcg
Major Function: aids in new cell formation, protein metabolism, and synthesis of DNA and neurotransmitters
Food Source: liver, leafy green vegetables, asparagus, citric fruits, citric juices, fortified cereals, beans, peas, peanuts, and whole grains

Inositol (a B vitamin)
RDA Male and Female: None available
Major Function: aids in transmission of chemical signals, fat, and cholesterol use, cell membrane formation
Food Source: whole grains, nuts, liver, vegetables

Vitamin C
RDA Male: 90mg
RDA Female: 75mg
Major Function: promotes healthy gums and teeth; aids in the production of collagen, helps in wound healing, absorption of iron, as an antioxidant, combats adverse effects of free radicals.
Food Source: fresh fruit, green vegetables, tomatoes, potatoes, cauliflower, brussel sprouts

Vitamin D
RDA Male and Female (19-50yrs old): 5mcg / 200IU
RDA Male and Female (51-69yrs old): 10mcg / 400IU
RDA Male and Female (70+years): 15mcg / 600IU
Major Functions: maintaining normal blood levels of calcium and phosphorous, promotes strong bones and teeth
Food Source: cod liver oil, fish, fortified dairy products, mainly via the Sun exposure you get

Vitamin E
RDA Male and Female: 15mg
Major Functions: aids in production of red blood cells, antioxidant, combats adverse effects of free radicals
Food Source: vegetable oils, wheat germ, whole grains, nuts, leafy green vegetables

Vitamin K
RDA Male: 80mcg
RDA Female: 65mcg
Major Functions: essential for blood clotting, building and maintaining bones
Food Source: dark green vegetables, soybean oil, eggs

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