How Many Micronutrients Should I Eat A Day? Micronutrients are vitamins and minerals required by the body. Although they are essential to the normal development of body, deficiency of even one can lead to health defects. It is therefore important to eat a healthy diet that includes all the major micronutrients.
If you are obsessed with increasing your intake of micronutrients, this article is for you. I’ll first look at the definition of a micronutrient and then present one method that could be used to determine how many micronutrients are needed to reach the RDA of these macrominerals and macronutrients.
How Many Micronutrients Should I Eat A Day
The term micronutrients is used to describe vitamins and minerals in general.
Macronutrients, on the other hand, include proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Your body needs smaller amounts of micronutrients relative to macronutrients. That’s why they’re labeled “micro.”
As the human body, for the most part, is unable to synthesize vitamins and minerals, humans must get micronutrients from food. They are also referred to as vital nutrients for this reason.
Vitamins are organic substances produced by both plants and animals that can be destroyed by air, acid, or heat. On the other hand, minerals cannot be broken down because they are inorganic, found in soil or water.
As you eat, you take in the minerals and vitamins that plants and animals absorbed or produced.
It’s best to consume a range of foods to acquire enough vitamins and minerals because each item has a different amount of micronutrients.
Although each vitamin and mineral has a specific purpose in your body, an appropriate intake of all micronutrients is essential for achieving maximum health.
For growth, immune system health, brain development, and many other critical processes, vitamins and minerals are essential.
Types and Functions of Micronutrients
Water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins, macrominerals, and trace minerals are the four divisions of vitamins and minerals.
In your body, vitamins and minerals of all kinds are absorbed in comparable ways and participate in a variety of functions.
The majority of vitamins are water-soluble because they can dissolve in liquid. When ingested in excess, they are not easily kept in the body and are eliminated through urination.
Even though each water-soluble vitamin has a distinct purpose, they all work together.
For instance, the majority of B vitamins function as coenzymes that aid in starting crucial chemical reactions. Several of these reactions are required for the creation of energy.
The following are some of the roles of the water-soluble vitamins:
- Vitamin B1 (thiamine): Helps convert nutrients into energy
- Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): Necessary for energy production, cell function and fat metabolism
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): Drives the production of energy from food
- Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): Necessary for fatty acid synthesis
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): Helps your body release sugar from stored carbohydrates for energy and create red blood cells
- Vitamin B7 (biotin): Plays a role in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose
- Vitamin B9 (folate): Important for proper cell division
- Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): Necessary for red blood cell formation and proper nervous system and brain function
- Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): Required for the creation of neurotransmitters and collagen, the main protein in your skin
As you can see, water-soluble vitamins serve a variety of purposes in addition to helping the body produce energy.
Since your body cannot store these vitamins, it’s crucial to consume enough of them through meals.
Sources and adequate intakes (AIs) or recommended dietary allowances (RDAs) for water-soluble vitamins are
|Nutrient||Sources||RDA or AI (adults > 19 years)|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamine)||Whole grains, meat, fish||1.1–1.2 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||Organ meats, eggs, milk||1.1–1.3 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||Meat, salmon, leafy greens, beans||14–16 mg|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)||Organ meats, mushrooms, tuna, avocado||5 mg|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)||Fish, milk, carrots, potatoes||1.3 mg|
|Vitamin B7 (biotin)||Eggs, almonds, spinach, sweet potatoes||30 mcg|
|Vitamin B9 (folate)||Beef, liver, black-eyed peas, spinach, asparagus||400 mcg|
|Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)||Clams, fish, meat||2.4 mcg|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||Citrus fruits, bell peppers, Brussels sprouts||75–90 mg|
Fat-soluble vitamins do not dissolve in water.
They’re best absorbed when consumed alongside a source of fat. After consumption, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in your liver and fatty tissues for future use.
The names and functions of fat-soluble vitamins are:
- Vitamin A: Necessary for proper vision and organ function
- Vitamin D: Promotes proper immune function and assists in calcium absorption and bone growth
- Vitamin E: Assists immune function and acts as an antioxidant that protects cells from damage
- Vitamin K: Required for blood clotting and proper bone development
Sources and recommended intakes of fat-soluble vitamins are:
|Nutrient||Sources||RDA or AI (adults > 19 years)|
|Vitamin A||Retinol (liver, dairy, fish), carotenoids (sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach)||700–900 mcg|
|Vitamin D||Sunlight, fish oil, milk||600–800 IU|
|Vitamin E||Sunflower seeds, wheat germ, almonds||15 mg|
|Vitamin K||Leafy greens, soybeans, pumpkin||90–120 mcg|
Macrominerals are needed in larger amounts than trace minerals in order to perform their specific roles in your body.
The macrominerals and some of their functions are:
- Calcium: Necessary for proper structure and function of bones and teeth. Assists in muscle function and blood vessel contraction
- Phosphorus: Part of bone and cell membrane structure .
- Magnesium: Assists with over 300 enzyme reactions, including regulation of blood pressure.
- Sodium: Electrolyte that aids fluid balance and maintenance of blood pressure .
- Chloride: Often found in combination with sodium. Helps maintain fluid balance and is used to make digestive juices.
- Potassium: Electrolyte that maintains fluid status in cells and helps with nerve transmission and muscle function.
- Sulfur: Part of every living tissue and contained in the amino acids methionine and cysteine.
Sources and recommended intakes of the macrominerals are:
|Nutrient||Sources||RDA or AI (adults > 19 years)|
|Calcium||Milk products, leafy greens, broccoli||2,000–2,500 mg|
|Phosphorus||Salmon, yogurt, turkey||700 mg|
|Magnesium||Almonds, cashews, black beans||310–420 mg|
|Sodium||Salt, processed foods, canned soup||2,300 mg|
|Chloride||Seaweed, salt, celery||1,800–2,300 mg|
|Potassium||Lentils, acorn squash, bananas||4,700 mg|
|Sulfur||Garlic, onions, Brussels sprouts, eggs, mineral water||None established|
Trace minerals are needed in smaller amounts than macrominerals but still enable important functions in your body.
The trace minerals and some of their functions are:
- Iron: Helps provide oxygen to muscles and assists in the creation of certain hormones.
- Manganese: Assists in carbohydrate, amino acid and cholesterol metabolism.
- Copper: Required for connective tissue formation, as well as normal brain and nervous system function.
- Zinc: Necessary for normal growth, immune function and wound healing
- Iodine: Assists in thyroid regulation.
- Fluoride: Necessary for the development of bones and teeth.
- Selenium: Important for thyroid health, reproduction and defense against oxidative damage.
Sources and recommended intakes of trace minerals are:
|Nutrient||Sources||RDA or AI (adults > 19 years)|
|Iron||Oysters, white beans, spinach||8–18 mg|
|Manganese||Pineapple, pecans, peanuts||1.8–2.3 mg|
|Copper||Liver, crabs, cashews||900 mcg|
|Zinc||Oysters, crab, chickpeas||8–11 mg|
|Iodine||Seaweed, cod, yogurt||150 mcg|
|Fluoride||Fruit juice, water, crab||3–4 mg|
|Selenium||Brazil nuts, sardines, ham||55 mcg|
THE SIX CLASSES OF ESSENTIAL NUTRIENTS
There are six classes of essential nutrients for human health, meaning we can’t live without them without negative consequences. Our bodies don’t make them so, we must obtain them from our diet. They include:
We need a lot of protein, carbohydrates, and fats, which is why they are commonly referred to as macronutrients.
All metabolic processes are powered by calories or energy in the form of ATP, which is ignited by enzyme-like proteins. To function, enzymes require cofactors, which are vitamins and minerals (micronutrients). They are what we need in smaller amounts.
CRITICAL FUNCTIONS OF SELECTED MICRONUTRIENTS:
- B vitamins are needed to extract energy from food
- Vitamin C is a very potent antioxidant and plays an essential role in maintaining a strong immune system.
- Vitamin B12 is required for proper nerve function and to make red blood cells
- Vitamin A is needed for good vision, immunity, and healthy skin
- Vitamin D is required to form bone, healthy immune function, and functions like a hormone throughout the body
- Vitamin E is an antioxidant and helps protect cells from damage
- Vitamin K is needed to form blood clots and to shuttle calcium into bone
- Calcium is needed for muscle contraction and bone formation
- Iron is required to transport oxygen throughout the body
- Magnesium regulates muscle contraction and nerve transmission. It helps form teeth and bones and is needed in over 300 metabolic reactions.
- Potassium is needed for muscle contraction, proper nerve conduction, and maintenance of fluid and electrolyte balance
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?
According to age, gender, and life stage, the Institute of Medicine’s scientists have determined the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for a variety of micronutrients. It is crucial to remember that these suggested values are not necessarily ideal for longevity and are intended to prevent deficiencies and the diseases and ailments they are associated with.
Eating a wide variety of vibrant, minimally processed foods from all major dietary groups is my recommendation as a licensed dietitian. This will increase your nutritional intake while allowing you to consume the number of calories necessary to either reach or maintain a healthy body weight.
Vitamins and Minerals: How Much Should You Take?
You move through the pharmacy’s aisles on what appears to be a straightforward mission: to get some vitamins. On the other hand, a short glance at a bottle’s label can make you go for a dictionary. An alphabet soup of terms, such as “RDA” or “DV,” can be seen on numerous containers. But don’t give up. We’ll assist you understand supplement recommendations.
What the Numbers Mean
Many of the terms you see on labels or supplement web sites can help you understand how much of the vitamin or mineral you should take. For example, here are some guidelines set up by the Institute of Medicine:
The RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) and the AI (Adequate Intake) are the amounts of a vitamin or mineral you need to keep healthy and stay well-nourished. They’re tailored to women, men, and specific age groups.
The UL (Tolerable Upper Intake Level) is the maximum amount of daily vitamins and minerals that you can safely take without risk of an overdose or serious side effects. For certain nutrients, the higher you go above the UL, the greater the chance you’ll have problems.
Separate from the RDA and the UL, the Food and Drug Administration uses a different measure for the nutrients you need:
The DV (Daily Value) is the only measurement you’ll find on food and supplement labels. That’s because space is limited, and there’s a need for one single reference number. That number is the amount of a vitamin or nutrient that you should get for top health from a diet of 2,000 calories a day. The DV is sometimes the same as the RDA.
Although the details may be different, remember that the RDA and DV are both set up to help you get the nutrients you need to prevent disease and avoid problems caused by lack of nutrition.
How Much Is Too Much?
How do you know whether it’s safe to take more than the RDA or DV when some supplements come in large amounts that could have risks?
Searching for a nutrient’s UL (tolerable upper intake level) is one approach. You can safely take a dose of numerous vitamins and minerals that is far higher than the RDA or DV without exceeding the UL.
For instance, the RDA for vitamin B6 can be exceeded by more than 50 times without harming health. However with this greater B6 levels, some persons experience symptoms of nerve discomfort. So, you should constantly use caution. The following points should be remembered:
Some supplements carry greater danger than others.
The upper limit for various vitamins and minerals is quite close to the RDA. Thus it’s simple to acquire too much. For instance, a guy receiving slightly more than three times the RDA of vitamin A would exceed the top limit. Vitamin A in high concentrations, along with other fat-soluble vitamins like E and K, can accumulate in the body and become hazardous. The minerals selenium and iron are among other dangerous supplements.
How to Calculate the Amount of Nutrients You Need Each Day
The best method to receive the vitamins and minerals you need is to eat a diversified diet that is high in fruits and vegetables.
You likely make an effort to eat healthfully. Most of the time, you steer clear of foods with empty calories and keep an eye on your intake. But, it might be challenging to determine whether your daily diet provides you with all you actually need. We outline how to assess your dietary situation in this section.
Nutrients are separated into two categories. The first is macronutrients, which are sources of energy that we need a lot of. The three macronutrients are protein, carbohydrates and fat.
The ideal proportions of macronutrients in the diets of men and women are as follows, according to the 2015-2020 USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans:
- 45-65 percent of daily calories coming from carbohydrates
- 10-35 percent from protein
- 20-35 percent from fat (less than 10 percent of which should come from saturated fat)
So how many grams of carbs, protein and fat do those percentages translate into? It depends on your daily caloric intake. The USDA’s dietary guidelines use 1,800 calories for women and 2,200 for men as the benchmarks, but your personal target calorie intake will depend on your age, how active you are and whether you’re looking to lose, maintain or gain weight.
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For every gram of protein, carbohydrate, and fat, there are four calories. You must first determine how many calories of a particular macronutrient you require in order to determine how many grams of that macronutrient to ingest each day. Simply calculate the suggested proportion by your daily caloric intake to get the answer. Then multiply the outcome by either 4 or 9.
The second group of nutrients is micronutrients. They are also necessary components of our diet, but because they are smaller molecules than macronutrients, we don’t require as much of them.
According to Washington State University, micronutrients include minerals and vitamins, including both water- and fat-soluble varieties. According to Colorado State University Extension, there are nine water-soluble vitamins (the B-complex vitamins and C) and four fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, and K).
There are 16 essential minerals, including fluoride, iron, zinc, copper, manganese, iodine, selenium, molybdenum, sulfur, sodium, chloride, and magnesium. (Nice to know: A 2,000 calorie diet is used to calculate the percent of daily value on food labels.)
Vitamin needs vary depending on age and between men and women. “Due to higher iron losses during menstruation, women ages 19 to 50 need more iron than men do. Adult males between the ages of 19 and 50 need more of the nutrients magnesium, zinc, chromium, and manganese as well as the vitamins C, K, B1, B2, and B3 “explains clinical dietitian Michelle Young, RD, LDN, of Northwestern Medicine Lake Forest Hospital in Lake Forest, Illinois. The need for vitamin D rises with age due to a larger risk of age-related bone loss and fractures, she continues.
Micronutrient consumption may usually be met with a diversified diet that includes fruits, vegetables, seafood, lean meats, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Only when a deficiency is identified, such as in cases of iron deficiency anemia or vitamin B12 or D shortages, which are rather frequent, does supplementation become necessary, according to Young. “In this case, supplementation would be required to make up for the deficit.”
That said, it is definitely possible (and desirable) to get all you need from a healthy, varied diet. Filling your plate with an assortment of colorful foods — say, spinach, tomatoes, butternut squash, blueberries — is a great way to start. And if you’ve ever been tempted to rely on a multivitamin to pick up the slack when you’ve fallen off the healthy-eating wagon, it isn’t that easy. “Multivitamins will not replace a healthy diet, as they lack other beneficial compounds, such as antioxidants, phytonutrients, fiber and essential fatty acids,” says Young.
The Bottom Line on Water
Water is also regarded as an essential nutrient because the body needs more of it than it can make, according to Young.
Everyone has heard the classic advice to “Drink at least eight glasses of plain water per day,” but is that really necessary? It really depends. Young says that a number of variables, including activity level, exercise intensity, temperature, and humidity, affect how much water a person needs to stay hydrated.
You may determine your body’s fluid requirements by dividing your weight in pounds by 2.2 and then 30 times your weight in kilograms. “This provides you with a target amount to aim for in milliliters. Add two to three cups to that amount if it’s hot outside or you’re perspiring more during your workout “Young suggests.
“The color of your urine is one sign that you are well hydrated. It should be clean or light yellow “Youthful adds. And don’t rely solely on thirst, as you are already dehydrated if you feel thirsty.
Since that caffeine is a diuretic, it makes sense that caffeinated beverages aren’t “counted” toward our daily water requirements. “Yet, not all of the fluid in a typical cup of coffee is really filtered out of the body; part of it is actually needed by the body to stay hydrated. The same is true of various teas and sodas that have a typical level of caffeine in them “Young notes.