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Complete Guide to Essential Vitamins and Minerals

You know that it’s vitally important to get vitamins and minerals into your diet from whole foods every day, but do you know why? Your doctor may tell you that you can take extra vitamin C when you’re sick, and spend some time in the sun to help your body make enough vitamin D… But what do these nutrients actually do for you, your body, and your overall wellness? 

In this article, we’ll go over the 14 vitamins and 13 minerals you should aim to get into your diet every single day, starting today! And we’ll fill you in on how they fulfill their unique part in keeping the amazing creation that is YOU and your body alive and flourishing! We’ll touch on how they’re each needed to fulfill their distinct roles in keeping you feeling your best, and living your healthiest life.

First off, vitamins and minerals are both considered “micronutrients” – a term you may have heard before that basically means you only need small amounts of them (versus macronutrients like protein, fat, and carbohydrates, in which you need large amounts).

However, even though you only need small amounts of micronutrients, those amounts are more than just a little important… they’re crucial for survival. So, what’s the difference between the vitamins and minerals, which are both micronutrients?

Vitamins are considered “organic” and can be broken down by heat, air or acid. Minerals are “inorganic” and maintain their chemical structure.

What this means is that minerals, (found in the soil and water) can enter your body, in-tact, through the foods and liquids you consume. Vitamins, however, are a bit tougher to ensure you get enough of, because cooking, storing and simply exposing them to air can breakdown these more fragile compounds!

So, what’s the best way to get your vitamins and minerals?

The Best Sources of Vitamins and Minerals

Our top recommendation for getting your micronutrients is to eat a variety of fresh, clean, whole foods as the first key to wellness. What does this look like? We recommend you use the USDA Dietary Guidelines known as “MyPlate” as a point of reference.

Within “MyPlate”, foods are broken up into 5 major categories, (fruits, vegetables, grains, protein foods, and dairy). And daily recommended portion sizes and amounts for each group vary based on age, sex, and activity level, along with any specific dietary requirements.

Here are the foods that we recommend you eat, and where they fall within each MyPlate category… along with rough guidelines on the amount to eat per day. We recommend you talk with a health professional, such as one of our 310 Nutritionists in the 310 Nutrition Community, to dig even deeper and develop a specific diet plan and calorie goals for you!

Lots of fresh, preferably organic fruits and veggies



  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.)
  • Oranges and other citrus fruits
  • Pineapple and other tropical fruits

Amount: 1-2 cups per day



  • Leafy greens (spinach, kale, etc.)
  • Cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, etc.)
  • Red and orange veggies (tomato, carrot, pumpkin, etc.)

 Amount: 2-3 cups per day

High-quality proteins (grass-fed, organic meats and wild seafood when possible)

Grass-fed, organic meats:


  • Lean beef, pork, duck, lamb, bison
  • Chicken, turkey



  • Tuna, salmon, halibut, trout
  • Shrimp, lobster, mussels, clams


Nuts & Seeds:


  • Almonds, pistachios, walnuts, cashews, macadamia nuts
  • Chia, flax, sesame, sunflower seeds
  • Nut or seed butters

Beans, Peas, Lentils:


  • Black, red, kidney, navy, white beans
  • Green peas, chickpeas
  • Lentils
  • Soybeans, tofu
  • Hummus

Amount: 5-6 ounces per day

Non-sweetened dairy products 


  • Milk
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • Dairy-based desserts

Amount: 3 cups per day

Healthy oils


  • Olive
  • Coconut
  • Flax
  • Avocado
  • MCT

Amount: Use when cooking or in dressings/sauces instead of less healthy oils like canola, vegetable, and soybean

Whole grains


  • Whole wheat
  • Oats
  • Quinoa
  • Amaranth, rye, spelt, bulgur, millet
  • Brown rice
  • Popcorn
  • Whole wheat pasta, bread, crackers, etc.

Amount: 5-8 ounces

The more varied and fresh your diet is, the more vitamins and minerals you can receive naturally from your meals. Keep in mind that when you heat up or cook foods, it may reduce the levels of the nutrient content slightly, so it’s always a great idea to eat some foods (like fruits and veggies), raw when possible. Drinking a daily superfood smoothie is an excellent way to do this. Also enjoying a superfood juice!

Plus, just as important as what you eat, is what you don’t eat in order to maintain optimal nutrient levels. Certain ingredients, including sugar, can actually negatively affect your vitamin and mineral levels. When you fill up on foods that are lacking in nutrients, like processed and sugary ones, you can become full without getting the real nourishment your body needs.

Not to mention that ingredients like sugar may “compete” with important nutrients like vitamin C to get into your cells – which may mean you reap less of the benefits of vital nutrients, even though you’re getting them in your diet.

Support for Your Healthy Diet: Supplements

Along with eating a healthy, whole foods diet, you can also help yourself get daily nutrients by taking them in supplement form, but only after consulting with your doctor. They can do testing to see if you’re deficient or lacking in any nutrients, which can greatly help you decide which supplements to take.

In general, people who aren’t able to get all the recommended fruits, vegetables, and other healthy ingredients each day, can benefit from taking a daily multivitamin. In addition, if you’re required to follow a special dietary plan, where you don’t eat certain healthy foods, it’s important to get any nutrients you may be missing by taking high-quality supplements, again under supervision by your doctor.

When considering a supplement, keep in mind that there’s a difference in how certain vitamins are absorbed into your body, and that matters when choosing a supplement. Whereas some vitamins are “water-soluble” others are “fat-soluble”.

Water-Soluble vs. Fat-Soluble Vitamins

After you consume a certain vitamin, the way your body handles it is very different. Let’s take a look at the difference between the two types of vitamins.

Water-Soluble Vitamins

These vitamins are found in the watery portions of certain foods, and get absorbed directly into the bloodstream during normal digestive processes or the breakdown of a supplement. These vitamins circulate easily in your body – since most of your body is water – however, whatever isn’t needed gets flushed out in the urine.

For this reason, it’s more rare to overdose or have too much of any water soluble vitamins, because your body disposes of the excess. However, it can still happen if you take mega doses, (far above the recommended dose), of supplements. In general, a good rule of thumb is to replenish water soluble vitamins every few days (by diet or supplement).

List of water-soluble vitamins:

- Vitamin C

- B Vitamins:

  • B1: Thiamin
  • B2: Riboflavin
  • B3: Niacin
  • B5: Pantothenic acid
  • B6: Pyridoxine
  • B7: Biotin
  • B9: Folic Acid
  • B12: Cobalamin

Fat-Soluble Vitamins:

Instead of easily entering into the bloodstream like water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins  dissolve into fat. Because of this, they are better absorbed when consumed with dietary fat. However, instead of being disposed of like water-soluble vitamins, any excesses of fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fat tissues.

This process is both good and bad. It’s good because you don’t have to worry about replenishing these types of vitamins as often. When your body needs them, it can basically just tap into the reserves, and release them into the bloodstream for where they are needed.

The downside is that it is possible to overdose on these vitamins more easily, since your body does not release them.

List of fat-soluble vitamins…

- Vitamin A

- Vitamin D

- Vitamin E

- Vitamin K

Essential vs. Non-Essential Vitamins

Finally, the last aspect we want to touch on before we go into the unique benefits of each vitamin and mineral is the difference between essential and non-essential vitamins.

Though all nutrients are “essential” in the way that your body needs them to properly function, some can be produced by the body, while most cannot, and need to be acquired by food or supplement.

Those that your body can make are called “non-essential”, while the others are called “essential” – even though they are all crucially important.

The essential vitamins include:

- Vitamin A

- B Vitamins

- Vitamin C

- Vitamin D

- Vitamin E

- Vitamin K

The “non-essential” vitamins include…

Vitamin D – This is only a non-essential vitamin because your body can produce it in response to sunlight hitting your skin. However, this is conditional based on the amount and quality of sunlight you get, which determines how much your body actually produces.

Biotin – This B vitamin is actually made in your intestines by gastrointestinal bacteria. Therefore, unless you have a digestive disease that inhibits this process, your body produces this vitamin.

Vitamin K – While vitamin K can be made by the body, there are still additional recommendations for intake, which is why it makes both lists, (essential and non-essential).

The Unique Benefits of Essential Vitamins and Minerals

Now that you know all of the important background information for vitamins and minerals, lets dive in and talk about each nutrient individually – so you can fully grasp how each micronutrient is completely essential for the optimal working of your body, how you benefit from each, and how you can get enough of them, daily!

List of Essential Vitamins

Vitamin A:


Vitamin A, which is an antioxidant vitamin, is known to be essential to great eye health, especially as you age, among a variety of other important tasks. It’s an essential vitamin that your body cannot produce on its own, and it’s also fat-soluble.

There are actually two different forms of vitamin A: preformed vitamin A and provitamin A – which has to be converted to preformed A before it can be used by your body. Preformed vitamin A is called retinol, (or retinyl esters), and provitamin A is also known as provitamin A carotenoids (with beta-carotene being the most well-known).


Due to its antioxidant properties, Vitamin A is known to help fight infection and disease in the body and maintain healthy vision. It also may play an important role in heart, lung, and kidney health, and help keep skin healthy by fighting free radicals.

Vitamin A has also been studied for specific eye-related benefits and protecting vision with age. Studies have shown that daily intakes of high-dose vitamins, (including vitamins C and E, and carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin), slowed the progression of intermediate and late-stage age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA), or suggested daily intake of vitamin A is 700mcg for women and 900mcg for men.


Since vitamin A can be found in many different foods in the American diet, deficiency in the US is rare. However, those most at risk include children, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. Some signs and symptoms to look out for include dry skin, acne, poor wound healing, and more. People with low levels of vitamin A may  benefit the most from supplementation.


Since vitamin A (in both forms) is fat-soluble, you have to be careful with your intake, as you can absolutely have too much – especially if you take it in supplement form.

Taking more than 10,000mcg per day of vitamin A supplements for the long-term may cause:

  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Bone thinning
  • Liver damage
  • Joint or bone pain
  • Birth defects
  • Skin irritation

Taking a single large dose over 200,000mcg may cause…

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Blurry vision or vertigo

Foods containing vitamin A

Preformed vitamin A or retinol comes from animal and dairy products, fortified foods, and vitamin supplements. Provitamin A or carotenoids are naturally found in plant foods, such as green leafy vegetables, carrots, and cantaloupe.

If you’d like some help getting this important nutrient into your diet, the 310 Multivitamin contains 984mcg of vitamin A (as retinyl palmitate and 26% beta-carotene) or 109% of the daily value. Or, the 310 Beauty Melt contains 650mcg of retinyl palmitate.

Vitamin C


Vitamin C is arguably the most popular vitamin out there, and is well-known for supporting immune health. The water-soluble essential vitamin is also known as ascorbic acid, and can be found in many fruits and veggies.


This high-antioxidant vitamin is essential to your body’s healing processes and defensive functions – as it helps protect your cells against the effect of free radicals, helping you stay well. Your body also needs vitamin C to form blood vessels, cartilage, muscle, and collagen in bones.

As for additional researched benefits of this vitamin, some evidence suggests that people who regularly take vitamin C supplements may have less severe symptoms and shorter illness when they have a cold.

Vitamin C has also proven to be beneficial for eye health, as studies show that taking oral vitamin C supplements in combo with other vitamins and minerals may help prevent age-related macular degeneration (AMD) from getting worse.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of vitamin C is 75mg for women and 90mg for men.


Though vitamin C deficiency is rare in developed countries, there are situations that can put people at risk for it. People who do not eat a lot of fruits and vegetables; smoke or are exposed to second hand smoke long-term; or engage in drug or alcohol abuse are at risk of deficiency.

A diet that provides less than 10mg of vitamin C daily for one month or longer may result in deficiency symptoms. The most well-known disease from deficiency is called scurvy, which occurs from a loss of vital collagen protein – which vitamin C is needed to produce in the body. Symptoms include bleeding skin spots, hair loss, and wounds that won’t heal.

Fatigue is another symptom of a vitamin C deficiency, along with iron-deficiency anemia due to decreased absorption of “non-heme iron” – which is found in plant foods and leafy greens.


When taken at correct doses, vitamin C supplements are considered safe, since vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin. However, mega-doses of vitamin C beyond the recommended dosage requirements could cause unpleasant symptoms and side effects. This includes the long-term use of oral C supplements over 2,000mg per day.

Potential side effects may include…

  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Cramping
  • Heartburn
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue

Foods containing Vitamin C

You can find vitamin C in many fruits and veggies including citrus fruits, berries, spinach, broccoli, peppers, Brussel sprouts, and potatoes. You can also find vitamin C in capsules, chewable tablets, or powder form (which can be mixed into your favorite drinks or smoothies).

310 Vitamin C Powder contains 1,000mg of vitamin C per serving! In addition, t

Vitamin D


Vitamin D, also known as the “sunshine vitamin” is an important nutrient that we get from certain foods, and also a hormone our bodies make in response to the sun. It’s critical for bone health and supporting a strong immune system.

Vitamin D, which is a fat-soluble vitamin, is considered both essential and non-essential, since your body can produce it, but only in response to sunlight – and deficiency is actually very common. This nutrient comes in two forms… vitamin D2 (also known as ergocalciferol or pre-vitamin D), and vitamin D3 (also known as cholecalciferol).


Vitamin D has many purposes in the body, and is one of the most vital nutrients to help maintain overall wellness. It helps the body absorb and retain the minerals calcium and phosphorus, both essential for building bone. Studies show that vitamin D may also help control infections, reduce inflammation, and support immune health.

According to multiple studies, vitamin D may also help increase muscle strength, and help prevent falls. To do this however, the studies showed that supplementation of vitamin D had to be around 700 to 1000 IU per day. Another meta-analysis of individual participant data showed that daily or weekly vitamin D supplementation may lower the risk of acute respiratory infection – especially for every deficient people.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA for vitamin D is 400 international units (IU) for children (0-12 months of age), 600 IU (age 1 - 70 years), and 800 IU (age 70+).


Since you cannot find vitamin D in a large variety of foods, and many areas around the globe do not get enough strong sunlight year-round, having low levels of vitamin D is quite common. People who are at the highest risk for deficiency include those who do not eat milk, eggs, or fish; follow a vegan diet; suffer poor absorption of the nutrient; or aren’t exposed to strong sunlight.

Another thing to note is that things like car or office windows, clothes and sun tan lotion block the UVB rays that your body needs to make vitamin D. So, if you’re very sensitive to the sun, or you have dietary or other issues that prevent you from getting enough D, you should ask your doctor about taking a high-quality supplement.

Signs of serious vitamin D deficiency includes rickets, a condition seen in infants and children that’s marked by skeletal deformities due to soft, underdeveloped bones. Other deficiency symptoms may include bone pain, muscle weakness or cramps, and mood changes.


Since vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin, it is possible to take too much, specifically when it comes to supplementation. Adults who take more than 4,000 IU of vitamin D per day (and aren’t deficient or lacking in the nutrient) may have these symptoms…

  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Confusion/Disorientation
  • Weakness
  • Constipation
  • Poor appetite
  • Kidney damage

Foods containing Vitamin D

Some of the foods highest in “D” include fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines; fortified milk, and fortified cereal.

The 310 Multivitamin contains 10mcg of vitamin D or 50% of the daily value. In addition, the 310 Beauty Melt contains 10mcg of D, or 50% DV.

Vitamin E


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble, essential vitamin that’s important for healthy skin, vision, brain health, and more. Though this vitamin comes in many forms, alpha-tocopherol is the one used by the human body. You can find this vitamin in many foods, but you have to be careful with supplements to make sure you don’t take too much.


The main purpose of vitamin E is acting as an antioxidant and fighting free radicals in the body that can damage cells. This supports a strong immune system, and also protects other areas of the body from potential free radical damage, including the heart, brain, eyes, and skin.

For skin health, vitamin E may be applied topically in cream or oil form and may help ease skin troubles. One animal study showed that topical use of vitamin E helped reduce skin damage caused by UV irradiation.

Vitamin E has also been studied in relation to diseases of the brain. Some research has shown that high-dose vitamin E taken in supplement form may help delay the advancement of a memory disease.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of Vitamin E for adults is 15mg per day.


Vitamin E deficiency in the US is rare, since it’s found in a variety of foods and also in supplement form. However, people who have digestive disorders or certain diseases that prohibit their ability to absorb fat properly may develop a deficiency.

The most common signs of deficiency include a weakened immune system; retinopathy (which is retina eye damage and can affect vision); and peripheral neuropathy (which is damage to peripheral nerves causing weakness or pain in hands or feet).


When it comes to vitamin E supplementation, you have to be careful if you’re taking a blood thinning medication. It’s been found that in these cases, with doses greater than 1,000 mg daily, there is a risk of excess bleeding. There is therefore an upper limit of vitamin E use for adults at 1,100mg daily.

Foods containing Vitamin E

You can find vitamin E naturally in nuts, seeds, plant-based oils, fruits and veggies. These include peanuts and peanut butter, sunflower seeds and oil, pumpkin, bell pepper, asparagus, spinach, and avocado.

Vitamin K


Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that’s considered both essential and non-essential. Though it’s important for many different functions in your body, one type of vitamin K (called menaquinones or K2) can be produced by bacteria in your body, and can also be found in animal and fermented foods. The other type (phylloquinone or K1) is found in plant foods like green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and parsley.


Some of the main functions of vitamin K include helping to make proteins needed for blood clotting and building bones. The vitamin also plays an essential role in heart health. In fact, a higher intake of vitamin K2, in particular, has been linked with a potentially reduced risk of heart disease.  

Some studies have also shown that higher intakes of vitamin K may be linked with a lower occurrence of hip fractures and low bone density. One report from the Nurse’s Health Study showed that women who got at least 110 mcg of vitamin K per day were 30% less likely to break a hip than those who didn’t.

Recommended Daily Intake

There’s not enough evidence for a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) to be established for vitamin K. So instead, there’s an adequate intake (AI) amount given, to help you stay well. For adults, the AI is 120 mcg daily for men and 90 mcg daily for women, (including those who are pregnant or lactating).


Though vitamin K deficiency is rare, it can happen in people taking certain medications that may block vitamin K metabolism, or in people who have a hard time absorbing certain nutrients. Deficiency can also happen in newborns since vitamin K doesn’t cross the placenta and breast milk doesn’t contain a lot. For this reason, newborn infants are given vitamin K injections to prevent excessive bleeding or hemorrhaging.

Signs of vitamin K deficiency include bleeding or hemorrhaging, prolonged blood clotting, and osteoporosis, when bones become weak or brittle.


Vitamin K toxicity is very rare in vitamins K1 and K2, however, toxicity can be caused by menadione, also called vitamin K3, which is a synthetic, water-soluble vitamin K precursor used in supplements. For this reason, it shouldn’t be used to treat vitamin K deficiency.

If vitamin K toxicity does happen, it comes with symptoms of jaundice and hemolytic anemia in infants.

Foods containing Vitamin K

You can find vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), in green leafy veggies like collard, turnip greens, kale, spinach, and broccoli; canola oil; and salad dressings with soybean oil. In addition, you can find the other form (K2 or menaquinones) in fermented soybeans (natto) and smaller amounts in meat, cheese, and eggs.

Vitamin B6


Vitamin B6, also known as pyridoxine, is an essential water-soluble vitamin that’s important for brain health and development, a healthy nervous system, and a strong immune system. It also helps with the normal breakdown of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats during normal digestive processes.


Vitamin B6 works together with other B vitamins, including folate (vitamin B9), and vitamin B12, to control high levels of a protein called homocysteine in the blood. Elevated levels of homocysteine could potentially increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, so these B vitamins are important to maintain good heart health. Since studies show that high levels of homocysteine have been linked with memory diseases, vitamin B6 may also assist with proper brain function.

In addition, vitamin B6 has been shown to potentially help reduce uncomfortable symptoms of morning sickness during pregnancy when taken in supplement form. It’s also been studied for helping with premenstrual syndrome (PMS), though there is less evidence on this.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of Vitamin B6 for adults is 1.3mg daily.


Certain people are at a higher risk for vitamin B6 deficiency than others, since the following conditions can interfere with the absorption of the nutrient: autoimmune disorders (like celiac disease and ulcerative colitis), kidney disease, and alcoholism.

In addition, a deficiency most often happens when other B vitamins in the body are also low, namely the two that work most closely with B6, B12 and folate. A severe vitamin B6 deficiency may cause:

  • Depression
  • Confusion
  • Weakened immunity
  • Skin rashes
  • Low energy


When it comes to potentially toxic levels of B6, this is hard to do since the vitamin is water soluble, and your body flushes out the excess. However, a toxic level can happen from very high dose supplementation of greater than 1,000mg daily for an extended period of time.

Symptoms may include:

  • Nausea
  • Ataxia (loss of control over bodily functions)
  • Neuropathy in hands and feet (numbness or weakness)

Foods containing Vitamin B6

Natural food sources of B6 include tuna, salmon, poultry, beef liver, chickpeas, fortified cereals, and some fruits and veggies –including dark leafy greens, oranges, and bananas

310 Vitamin C Powder contains 10.38mg of vitamin B6 (or 611% daily value).

Vitamin B12


Vitamin B12, also known as cobalamin, is an essential water-soluble vitamin that’s vital to the function and development of brain and nerve cells. It’s also needed for red blood cell formation and the production of DNA. Vitamin B12 also plays an important role in energy production in the body – and one of the most common signs of B12 deficiency is fatigue or lack of energy.


Similar to vitamin B6, vitamin B12 also supports heart and brain health, by working in conjunction with folate and B6 to control high levels of homocysteine in the blood – reducing the risk of heart and blood vessel disease.

In addition, for those that are deficient in vitamin B12 and may be suffering with memory loss, studies show that supplementing with B12 may help. It’s also been suggested that supplementing with B12 may support good memory, even if someone isn’t deficient.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of Vitamin B12 for adults is 2.4mcg daily.


It’s estimated that up to 15% of the population suffers from a deficiency in vitamin B12. This is likely due to specific factors that increase vulnerability to this deficiency. Two of these factors include those who do not eat animal foods, since the nutrient is only naturally found in animal-based products.

In addition, some digestive disorders may make it harder to absorb this nutrient. Another risk factor, especially for the older population, is reduced stomach acid - since stomach acid is needed to move vitamin B12 from the food it contains to the place it’s needed in your body. This does not include fortified foods or supplements, since those forms are typically absorbed well, and don’t need stomach acid.

Vitamin B12 deficiency may cause tiredness, weakness, constipation, loss of appetite, and megaloblastic anemia. In addition, lacking in this nutrient may cause depression, confusion, poor memory, and balance problems.


Just like with vitamin B6, since B12 is water-soluble, toxicity is typically not a problem. And generally, large supplemental doses of up to 1,000mcg per day are considered safe to treat a deficiency. Currently the Institute of Medicine states there are no adverse effects associated with excess B12 intake from food or supplements in healthy people.

Foods containing Vitamin B12

Food sources containing B12 include poultry, red meat, liver, fish, shellfish, dairy products (milk, yogurt, cheese), fortified breakfast cereals, nutritional yeast, enriched soy or rice milk.

The 310 B12 Melt contains 1,000mcg of B12 per day, (as methylcobalamin).



Folate, also known as vitamin B9, is an essential, water-soluble nutrient found in many foods. There’s also a synthetic form of the nutrient, called folic acid, which you will find added into some foods and also in supplement form. Folic acid is known to be better absorbed than folate from food sources (roughly 85% vs. 50%), so is especially important for those at risk of deficiency.


Folate is well-known as an incredibly essential nutrient in early pregnancy, to help reduce the risk of birth defects in the brain and spine. In particular, research has shown that supplementing with folic acid in a prenatal vitamin (starting 3 months before conception), may help prevent birth defects of the neural tube.

Folate is also important for red blood cell formation and healthy cell growth/function. And, in conjunction with vitamin B6 and vitamin B12, the nutrient helps control high levels of homocysteine in the blood, supporting heart and blood vessel health.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of Folate for adults is 400mcg daily. However, adult women trying to conceive or currently pregnancy are advised to get at least 400 to 800mcg daily. Many prenatal vitamins contain even more folic acid than the recommended amount.


Though folate is found in a wide variety of foods, some people are at a higher risk of deficiency. These risk factors include:

Alcoholism – This particular disease interferes with correct absorption of the nutrient, and it’s excreted from the body quicker.

Pregnancy – women need more folate during pregnancy since it’s needed to help with the development of cells in the fetus.

Digestive disorders – Certain digestive disorders, or low stomach acid may prevent good absorption of the nutrient, leading to deficiency.

Genetic differences – People with a certain gene aren’t able to convert folate to its active form in order to be utilized by the body.

Symptoms of deficiency may include:

  • Megaloblastic anemia (condition resulting in malformed red blood cells)
  • Weakness/fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth sores


It’s rare to reach toxic levels of folate from solely food sources. However, an upper limit of folic acid is recommended at 1,000mcg daily because studies suggest that higher amounts may mask a deficiency in vitamin B12. Prenatal vitamins that contain high levels of folic acid will also list this warning.

Those at risk for a vitamin B12 deficiency (older adults or those who don’t eat animal-based foods), should be especially careful with folic acid supplements. If a high dose of folic acid hides a B12 deficiency for a long time, slow but irreversible damage to the brain and nervous system is possible.

Foods containing vitamin or mineral

Foods that naturally contain folate include dark green leafy veggies (spinach, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, asparagus), oranges, lemons, bananas, strawberries, beans, peanuts, sunflower seeds, whole grains, seafood, liver, eggs, and fortified foods like cereals and pastas.



Biotin, also known as vitamin B7 and vitamin H, is an essential water-soluble vitamin found in many foods, and also popular in supplement form. This nutrient helps keep your skin, hair, eyes, liver, and nervous system healthy. It also helps enzymes in your body break down the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins you eat during the digestive process.


It’s popular to take biotin in supplement form because it’s been marketed as a way to promote healthy skin, hair, and nails. It’s well-known and research shows that a deficiency in the nutrient could potentially lead to hair loss and skin or nail problems.

Recommended Daily Intake

There is no RDA for biotin since there isn’t enough evidence to pinpoint a daily amount needed by most healthy people. So, instead there’s a suggested Adequate Intake (AI). For adults, the AI is 30 mcg daily. However, lactating women need 35 mcg daily. 


Though a biotin deficiency is rare, certain factors increase vulnerability to it…

Alcoholism – This disease can increase the risk of deficiency since alcohol can block absorption.

Pregnant women – About a third of women show a mild biotin deficiency despite eating well. For this reason, many prenatal vitamins include biotin.

Signs of a biotin deficiency include:

  • Thinning hair
  • Hair loss
  • Dry skin
  • Scaly rashes around eyes, mouth
  • Brittle nails


Because biotin is water-soluble, any excess that isn’t needed by the body is flushed out through the urine. Therefore, even when taken at very high intakes, there’s no evidence of toxicity of biotin in humans. Therefore, there’s no established upper limit or toxic level.

Foods containing vitamin or mineral

Some of the best biotin-containing foods include eggs (especially the yolk), salmon, organ meats (liver, kidney), whole grains and cereals, nuts, cauliflower, bananas, mushrooms, avocados, and sweet potato.

The 310 Beauty Melt contains 5,000mcg biotin per serving.



Niacin, also known as vitamin B3, is another water-soluble, essential B vitamin that’s important to the health of your nervous system, heart, digestive system, and skin. It’s also important for heart health because it may help lower cholesterol levels. Your body uses niacin to turn food into energy, and it’s often included in daily multivitamins – though it can also be found in a variety of foods. 


One of the main uses for niacin in supplement form is to help control high cholesterol levels. It’s been shown in studies to lower levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol as well as triglycerides, and raise “good” HDL cholesterol. For this reason, and also because it’s been shown to help reduce inflammation, it may help prevent heart disease.

Niacin may also protect skin cells from sun damage, when used in an oral or topical lotion form, and may therefore help prevent skin diseases.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of niacin for adults is 16 mg daily for males, and 14 mg a day for women who aren’t pregnant.


Though niacin deficiency is rare in developed countries, it can create serious side effects. A deficiency in this nutrient can result in a condition called pellagra, which can cause dermatitis, dementia, and diarrhea, and can lead to death if left untreated. This condition is marked by brown skin discoloration and skin lesions on skin exposed to the sun.

Niacin deficiency has also been linked to birth defects in unborn fetuses.


Niacin has been shown to be safe when taken in appropriate amounts. However, high doses of niacin (via prescription, usually for high cholesterol), may cause side effects. Serious side effects are most likely seen between 2,000 to 6,000 mg per day.

Side effects may include…

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Dizziness
  • Liver damage

Foods containing Niacin

Foods containing niacin include chicken, turkey, pork, ground beef, fish including tuna and salmon, peanuts, avocado, whole wheat, mushrooms, green peas, potatoes, and enriched foods.



Thiamin, also known as vitamin B1 and thiamine, is an essential, water-soluble vitamin found in many foods, and also in supplement form. Only small amounts of thiamin are stored in the body, so daily intake through diet is necessary. Also, heating foods can actually reduce the content of the nutrient in them, so try to consume some thiamin-rich foods in the most raw form possible.


Thiamin is vital for the growth and development of cells, along with basic cell functions. It also helps the body breakdown nutrients and gain energy from them.

Studies suggest that a deficiency in this nutrient is particularly dangerous, since it can lead to problems in the brain and heart. A deficiency in thiamin has been shown to lead to abnormal motor functions in the heart. In addition, to neurological problems including cognitive decline.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of thiamin for adult men is 1.2 mg, and for adult women is 1.1 mg. The RDA for pregnant or nursing women is 1.4 mg.


Though thiamin deficiency is rare in the US since most people get enough from their diet, certain populations are vulnerable to deficiency. If you don’t eat enough foods containing thiamin, or you have decreased absorption abilities, you could be at risk. Also, if you suffer with alcoholism or take certain medications that may flush out the nutrient, like diuretics.

As mentioned above, a thiamin deficiency is potentially harmful to the heart and brain. In addition, a severe deficiency can lead to a condition called beriberi – which can impair reflexes and motor function and lead to dangerous fluid buildup in the heart.

Symptoms of mild to moderate deficiency include: 

  • Weakened immunity
  • Weight loss
  • Muscle weakness
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss


Since thiamin is a water-soluble vitamin, it’s not likely to reach a toxic level from food sources alone. For this reason, there’s no established toxic level of thiamin.

Foods containing Thiamin

Foods that contain thiamin include pork, fish, beans and lentils, green beans, sunflower seeds, yogurt, and enriched foods such as cereals, breads, noodles, and rice. Since thiamin is removed during processing, such as with refined white bread, it is custom to add it back into many foods after processing.



Riboflavin, also known as vitamin B2, is an essential, water-soluble vitamin. It’s important for the growth, development, and function of cells, and is instrumental in helping you turn the food you eat into usable energy.


Research shows that riboflavin is very important to brain and heart health, and a deficiency can cause health problems and potentially even lead to disease. The nutrient assists many different enzymes with important functions throughout the body. It also works with other B vitamins to break down homocysteine in the body – an amino acid which in high levels becomes a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.

Riboflavin has also been studied as a therapy for preventing migraines. It’s been shown to help reduce oxidative stress in the body and the inflammation of nerves – both of which can contribute to migraine headaches.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of riboflavin for adult men is 1.3 mg, and for adult women is 1.1 mg. The RDA for pregnant women is 1.4 mg, and for nursing women is 1.6 mg.


True deficiency in riboflavin is rare in the US, and is most often seen in cases of malnutrition, where many nutrient deficiencies are present. However, there are some groups that are more vulnerable to being deficient in this nutrient…

Vegans/Vegetarians – While many people immediately think of the major nutrients you get from dairy and meat products (like calcium and vitamin B12), riboflavin is another important B vitamin that needs to be considered on non-dairy diets.

Pregnant/Nursing Women – Women who are pregnant have increased nutrient needs, and pregnant women who don’t eat much dairy are particularly vulnerable to a deficiency in riboflavin. In addition, women who are nursing also need more since the baby is taking it through their milk.

Symptoms of riboflavin deficiency may include:

  • Cracked lips
  • Sore throat
  • Hair loss
  • Mouth or throat swelling
  • Anemia
  • Skin rash


Because riboflavin is a water-soluble vitamin and any excess is flushed out through the urine, there is no Tolerable Upper Intake Level for this nutrient. A toxic level has not been seen from food sources or supplements.

Foods containing Riboflavin

Riboflavin is mostly found in meat and fortified foods, though you can also find it in some other foods as well:

  • Lean beef and pork
  • Chicken
  • Organ meats
  • Salmon
  • Eggs
  • Dairy (milk, yogurt, cheese)
  • Nuts
  • Spinach
  • Fortified cereals and breads

Pantothenic Acid


Pantothenic Acid, also known as vitamin B5, is an essential water-soluble vitamin. Though bacteria in the gut can actually produce some of this nutrient on its own, it’s not enough to meet daily recommended dietary needs.

Pantothenic Acid is needed by the body to make coenzyme A, a compound that helps enzymes break down fatty acids and perform additional metabolic functions.


Pantothenic Acid has been studied for helping to reduce overall cholesterol levels in those with too much “bad” or LDL cholesterol in the blood, and low “good” or HDL cholesterol. However, more research is needed, and it’s uncertain if pantothenic acid supplements work well to lower blood fats on its own, or need to be combined with a heart-healthy diet.

Vitamin B5 is also used in hair, skin, and makeup products. It’s said to help add volume and shine to hair and improve the texture after chemical damage. It may also help stop thinning hair.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of pantothenic acid for adults is 5 mg daily. The RDA for pregnant or nursing women is 6-7 mg daily.


Pantothenic acid is found in many different foods, so a deficiency in the nutrient is rare. However, it can happen in those who are malnourished or have an inability to metabolize the vitamin.

Deficiency symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle cramps
  • GI problems
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping


There is no Tolerable Upper Intake Level for pantothenic acid, since a toxic level hasn’t been shown from food sources. Mild symptoms of upset stomach and mild diarrhea have been reported with very large doses of 10 g per day, though it's rare.

Foods containing Pantothenic Acid

Some of the best food sources of pantothenic acid include chicken, beef, organ meats, dairy milk, yogurt, eggs, nuts/seeds, oats, avocado, broccoli, and mushrooms



Choline is an essential nutrient that your body needs for proper functioning. Even though your liver can make it in small amounts, you still need to get most of it from your diet.

Choline is considered a water-soluble “compound”, since it’s neither a vitamin or a mineral – yet it’s often included with the other B vitamins due to similarities.


Choline is involved with a number of important functions within the body, namely brain development, brain function including memory and thinking, muscle movement, liver function, a healthy nervous system, and proper metabolism.

Research shows a link between choline deficiency and liver disease – since a deficiency in this nutrient may cause the liver to store too much fat. However, it’s not yet clear if dietary choline or choline supplementation can treat nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), even though a deficiency may increase the risk for the disease.

Choline is also another nutrient that – along with another B vitamin, folate – may help lower blood levels of homocysteine – which in high levels becomes a risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Therefore this nutrient may help reduce blood pressure and stroke.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA of choline for adult men is 550 mg per day, and for adult women is 425 mg per day. For pregnant women, the RDA is 930 mg per day.


Since your body can make some choline on its own, a deficiency is quite rare. However, it can still happen, and some groups are at a higher risk for deficiency than others, while others may need less of the nutrient.

Pregnant women – This nutrient is especially important during pregnancy, as having low levels could increase the risk of neural tube defects in (unborn babies). It could also increase the risk of other complications during pregnancy including premature birth and low birth weight. Many prenatal vitamins don’t include choline, so always check the label to make sure.

Genetic variations – Some people may have a genetic variation that interferes with the normal metabolism processes of choline, which could inevitably lead to a deficiency.

Premenopausal/Postmenopausal women – Women who are premenopausal may have a reduced need for dietary choline since higher estrogen levels can spur the making of choline in the body. However, since estrogen levels drop in postmenopausal women, they may need more.

A choline deficiency may lead to:

  • Muscle or liver damage
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)


Just like you could be deficient in choline, you could also consume too much, and suffer uncomfortable side effects. The daily upper limit of choline for adults is 3,500 mg per day – which would be very hard to reach from diet alone. However, you need to use caution when taking choline supplements.

Effects of toxicity may include drops in blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and sweating.

Foods containing Choline

Foods that contain choline include eggs, beef/chicken liver, salmon, cauliflower, broccoli, and soybean oil.




The mineral, calcium, is critical for good bone health throughout your life. The nutrient is also essential for your heart, muscles, and nerve health.

Your body doesn’t produce calcium, so you have to get it from your diet. You also need adequate vitamin D to properly absorb calcium. That means if you’re low in vitamin D, you won’t fully be reaping the benefits of calcium from your diet or supplements.


Calcium plays a major role in many bodily functions, and it also makes up a majority of your teeth and bones. In fact, your bones actually store calcium. Therefore, if you don’t get enough of the nutrient in your diet, your body will take it from your bones. Calcium is also needed to help circulate blood, move muscles, and release hormones.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA for calcium for adults (men and women) up to 50 years old, along with pregnant and lactating women is 1,000 mg per day. For those age 51+ it’s 1,200 mg daily. 


It’s very important to get enough calcium from your diet, or supplement if needed, since a deficiency can have serious consequences for your health. And interestingly, various age groups are at risk for deficiency, since many Americans don’t get enough calcium in their diets.

If children don’t get enough calcium, it could stunt their growth. And adults could develop low bone mass, which increases the risk for osteoporosis. This is because when the body doesn’t have enough calcium, it takes it from the bones, as mentioned earlier, weakening them.

Groups of people that are even more vulnerable to calcium deficiency include those who follow a vegan diet or are lactose intolerant, have osteoporosis or a disease that makes it difficult to absorb the nutrient. In these cases, a calcium supplement may be suggested by your doctor.


Even though your body needs calcium, it’s also important not to get too much – such as can happen if you’re getting enough in your diet, but also taking a high dose supplement. The daily upper limit for calcium (19-50 years) is 2,500 mg, and 2,000 mg for those 51 and older.

It’s rare, but a major excess in calcium could cause a condition called hypercalcemia, which is too much calcium in the blood. And this can cause nausea, vomiting, and confusion.

Foods containing Calcium

Some of the best calcium-rich foods include cheeses, milk, yogurt, seeds including chia and poppy, beans and lentils, almonds, salmon, shrimp, leafy greens like broccoli, rabe and kale, oranges, figs, and fortified foods like bread, cereal, and plant milks.



Though sodium is a mineral that the body only needs in small amounts, most Americans get far, far too much of it in their daily diets through their consumption of salt. Also known as sodium chloride, salt is about 40% sodium and 60% chloride, and is added to many processed foods as a preservative to prevent the growth of bacteria and spoilage.


Your body needs a small amount of sodium to maintain the proper balance of water and minerals. It also needs it for vital functions such as to contract and relax muscles and for nerve impulses.

Recommended Daily Intake

There is no recommended daily intake for sodium, however there is an upper limit suggested to avoid disease, known as the Chronic Disease Risk Reduction (CDRR) Intake. This intake is 2,300 mg per day as a maximum amount to consume, to help reduce the risk of disease in adult men and women, and pregnant women. This is about the amount in one teaspoon of table salt. However, most people consume far more sodium than this.


As mentioned, sodium deficiency is rare in the US, however, some people may struggle with hyponatremia, which is an abnormally low level of sodium in the blood. This can occur in older adults with health conditions that may deplete the body of sodium. This condition may cause vomiting, headaches, nausea, lethargy, and altered mental state.


Opposite of sodium deficiency, having too much sodium in the blood is called hypernatremia. However, this is an acute condition that can happen in older adults who are in some way impaired and don’t eat/drink enough, or who are sick and have severe dehydration. Symptoms may include nausea, vomiting, serious thirst, confusion, and weakness.

Along with this condition, research shows that having too much sodium may contribute to serious health conditions including heart disease. Most of the time, the kidneys aren’t able to keep up with excess sodium in the blood, which eventually puts more pressure on the heart, and can stiffen blood vessels – potentially leading to high blood pressure, heart attack, stroke, and heart failure.

Foods containing Sodium

While some foods naturally contain sodium, most of the sodium you get in your diet comes from salt (different types), and the processed and packaged foods that contain it as a preservative.

Foods that naturally contain sodium:

  • Meat (beef, chicken, lamb, etc.)
  • Shrimp/Shellfish
  • Beets
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Spinach
  • Chard
  • Cantaloupe
  • Seaweed
  • Artichokes

Some of the processed foods with the most sodium:

  • Breads and rolls
  • Pizza (especially pepperoni)
  • Sandwiches
  • Cold cuts and cured meats
  • Canned soup
  • Burritos and tacos
  • Cakes and pies
  • Salad dressings and vegetable oils
  • French fries
  • Ready-to-eat cereals
  • Soy sauce



Potassium – the third most abundant mineral in the human body – is necessary for the normal functioning of your cells. It helps to regulate heartbeat and is needed for the proper function of your muscles and nerves. It’s also essential for the process in which cells make protein, and the normal metabolism of carbohydrates.

Once inside your body, potassium functions as an electrolyte, which has many important roles – including being needed for fluid balance, nerve signals, and muscle contractions.


A diet that is rich in potassium is thought to offer many important health benefits, including supporting heart health by helping to reduce blood pressure and protect against stroke, and promoting strong and healthy bones.

Potassium is known to help reduce blood pressure by assisting the body with the removal of excess sodium, a mineral that many Americans get too much of daily. The average American diet actually contains about TWICE as much sodium as potassium – an imbalance which is thought to be a major contributor to high blood pressure, affecting one in three American adults. Since high blood pressure is a major risk factor for strokes, higher potassium is also linked with a lower stroke incidence.

Studies have also shown that a diet high in potassium may promote strong bones and potentially help prevent bone disease by helping the body hold onto calcium – an important mineral for bone health. It’s been shown that people with more potassium in their diet have a higher total bone mass.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake of potassium for adult males is 3,400 mg daily, and for adult women is 2,600 mg daily. The recommended intake for pregnant women is 2,900 mg daily, and for nursing women is 2,800 mg.


Though a true potassium deficiency is rare, it can result in serious consequences. Severe potassium deficiency can lead to a condition called hypokalemia, which can cause constipation, fatigue, and muscle weakness – and can be life-threatening due to its effect on muscle contraction and cardiac function.

Some groups of people may be at risk for low levels of potassium, though not severe enough to cause hypokalemia.

These include…

  • Inflammatory bowel diseases – In certain bowel diseases, potassium secretion increases, which can lead to low potassium levels.
  • Diuretics/laxatives – Certain diuretics that are used to treat high blood pressure may increase urinary excretion of potassium and cause hypokalemia.

Low levels of potassium, in general, are dangerous, because it can increase the risk for high blood pressure, kidney stones, and bone weakness.


In most normal healthy people, high dietary potassium intakes don’t pose a health risk because the kidneys eliminate any excess in the urine. However, those who are taking a potassium supplement, and those with chronic kidney disease that have impaired urinary potassium excretion need to be careful.

In those with chronic kidney disease or some other diseases, a condition called hyperkalemia can occur with even moderate levels of potassium – which in severe cases could cause muscle weakness, paralysis, and cardiac arrhythmias that could be life threatening.

Very high amounts of potassium supplements could also exceed the kidney’s capacity to excrete potassium, causing hyperkalemia even in otherwise healthy adults.

Foods containing Potassium

Lots of healthy whole foods naturally contain potassium, including many fruits and veggies, dairy products, and some meat and fish. Some foods that are the highest in potassium include avocados, sweet potatoes, spinach, watermelon, banana, butternut squash, potatoes, dried apricots, beets, pomegranate, dairy milk, yogurt, white and black beans, lentils, and soybeans. 



Phosphorus is an essential mineral that the body needs for many important functions – however it’s more common to get too much of this mineral in your body than it is to have too little. An overabundance of phosphorus can lead to health problems, so it’s important to stay within the recommended guidelines for daily intake.

Phosphorus is needed for many different tasks, including keeping bones and teeth strong and healthy; filtering out waste in your kidneys; and growing, maintaining, and repairing tissues and cells. 


Other jobs that phosphorus performs in the body include helping to make energy, move muscles, and maintain a regular heartbeat – so you can see how this mineral is essential! In addition, having adequate phosphorus is needed to balance and use other vitamins and minerals, so it’s essential for their functions as well; These include vitamins B and D, and minerals iodine, magnesium, and zinc.

Recommended Daily Intake

For adult males and females over 19 years of age, the recommended daily intake is 700 mg. This is also the intake for women over 19 who are pregnant or lactating.


Phosphorus deficiency is known as hypophosphatemia and is rare in the US. It’s also almost never the result of low dietary intakes, but of a medical condition such as hyperparathyroidism, kidney tube defects, or diabetic ketoacidosis.

Effects of hypophosphatemia may include anemia, muscle weakness, bone pain or rickets, confusion and increased infection risk.


In comparison to the recommended daily intakes, data shows that most Americans consume too much phosphorus. A 2015-2016 National Health and Nutrition Examination Study showed that in adults aged 20 and older, the average daily phosphorus intake from foods is 1,189 mg for women and 1,596 mg for men.

However, these amounts are still lower than the upper tolerable intake levels for Phosphorus, which are 4,000 mg for adults 19-50 years of age and nursing women, and 3,000 mg for adults 71+. The upper level for pregnant women is 3,500 mg.

Too much phosphorus can cause diarrhea, and hardening of the organs and soft tissue. In addition, it can affect your body’s ability to effectively use other minerals, including iron, calcium, magnesium, and zinc.

Finally, some studies have shown a link between high phosphorus intakes (1,000 mg per day or higher), and cardiovascular, kidney, and bone problems; However, other studies have found no link between high intakes and increased disease risk. 

Foods containing Phosphorus

You can find phosphorus in many different foods including milk and yogurt as two of the highest sources, salmon, chicken, beef, eggs, cashews, lentils, peas, kidney beans, oatmeal, whole wheat bread, asparagus, cauliflower, tomatoes, clementines, and green tea.



Magnesium is an essential mineral found in plants, animals, and humans – and every cell in your body needs it to function! It’s involved in more than 600 reactions in your body including helping to convert food into energy, creating new proteins from amino acids, creating and repairing DNA and RNA, contracting and relaxing muscles, and helping to regulate your nervous system.


Your body needs magnesium to run smoothly… In fact, several major areas depend on it including your heart, bones, muscles, nerves, and more. Without enough magnesium, these areas including your heart would not function properly – which is why it’s very important to correct a magnesium deficiency or low magnesium levels.

Magnesium has also been studied for its positive affect on bone health. Magnesium is a component of bone, and 60% of the body’s magnesium is stored in bone. Clinical trials have shown mixed results on magnesium supplements being beneficial for increasing bone mineral density, and more research is needed to see if it can help reduce fracture risk. However, some studies have found a link between greater bone density in men and women with higher magnesium diets.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake of magnesium varies by age and sex. For adults 19 to 30 years of age, the RDA is 400 mg for men, 310 mg for women, 350 mg for pregnant women, and 310mg for nursing women. For adults aged 31+, the RDA is 420 mg for men, 360 mg for women and pregnant women, and 320 mg for nursing women.


Studies and surveys show that about 50% of people in the US and Europe get less than the recommended daily amount of magnesium – even though the mineral is found in a variety of foods and fortified foods.

However, symptoms aren’t likely unless there is a true magnesium deficiency, which comes from a long-term low magnesium diet, malabsorption, or conditions or medications that deplete magnesium from your body.

Signs of magnesium deficiency include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue/weakness
  • Muscle cramps
  • Numbness in skin
  • Poor appetite


It’s rare to get too much magnesium from food sources since the kidneys remove excess magnesium from the urine. However, those with kidney disease may have a higher risk of toxicity because the organ can’t do its job and flush out extra magnesium. In addition, people who take high-dose supplements for an extended period are at risk.

Potential signs of toxicity include…

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle weakness
  • Low blood pressure
  • Low mood

Foods containing Magnesium

Magnesium can be found in a wide variety of foods including meat and fish, dark leafy greens, nuts, seeds and whole grains. Some specific foods that contain it include almonds, peanuts and cashews; pumpkin seeds; black and kidney beans; soybeans; cooked spinach, oatmeal, salmon, beef, dark chocolate, and fortified cereals.



Manganese is what’s known as a “trace mineral”… Although your body still needs them for many important tasks, you only need small amounts of them. Even though your body stores some manganese in your kidneys, pancreas, liver and bones, it’s still an essential nutrient that you need to get from your diet.


Manganese is needed for the regular functioning of your brain, nervous system, and many of the body’s enzyme systems. It’s also essential for bone health, especially in combination with other minerals including calcium, zinc, and copper.

In particular, manganese assists with bone development and maintenance. Some studies show that there may be a benefit to supplementing with manganese in combo with the other nutrients mentioned above – as they’ve been shown to help reduce bone loss and improve bone mass.

Recommended Daily Intake

The suggested RDA for manganese is 2.3 mg for adult men over 19 years of age and 1.8 mg for adult women. The RDA for pregnant women is 2.0 mg and for nursing women is 2.6 mg.


Manganese deficiency is actually quite rare in humans, therefore there are no known groups of people at risk for low intakes. Though symptoms of deficiency have not been firmly established, some limited evidence suggests that a deficiency in this trace mineral could cause bone demineralization and poor growth in children, skin rashes, and abnormal glucose intolerance.


There’s no evidence showing toxicity from high dietary intakes of manganese. However, it can occur in people working in welding or mining who inhale large amounts of manganese dust. In addition, some water may contain high levels of manganese leading to toxicity.

Symptoms of manganese toxicity may include…

  • Muscle spasms
  • Hearing loss
  • Tinnitus
  • Imbalance
  • Insomnia
  • Headaches
  • irritability

Foods containing Manganese

Manganese is present in many different types of food and drinks, with the top sources of manganese in the American diet including grain products, tea and vegetables. Individual foods that contain manganese include mussels, oysters, clams, hazelnuts, brown rice, chickpeas, pineapple, whole wheat bread, black tea, potatoes, kidney beans, squash, blueberries, and kale.



Zinc is an essential nutrient, specifically the second-must-abundant trace mineral - that plays many roles in your body and must be obtained through your diet. It’s essential for proper immune function, and can help keep your body well. It’s also important for wound healing and your sense of taste and smell.


Other roles that zinc plays in your body includes the processes of growth and development, DNA synthesis, protein synthesis, enzymatic reactions, and gene expression.

Because of its role in immune system health, the mineral is also added to come cold medicines and lozenges. Some evidence shows that if zinc lozenges or syrup containing the mineral is taken within 24 hours after cold symptoms start, it may help shorten the length of the cold.

In addition, when it comes to wound healing, research shows that people with low levels of zinc may benefit from oral zinc supplements.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA for zinc for adults 19+ years of age is 11 mg for men and 8 mg for women. For pregnant women the RDA is 11 mg, and for nursing women it’s 12 mg.


Zinc deficiency is uncommon in North America, but when it does happen, it’s usually due to an inadequacy of zinc in the diet, or decreased absorption potential in the body. People at risk for deficiency need to ensure they consume more foods rich in zinc, or take a supplement.

People at risk for deficiency include  Vegans and Vegetarians .

Meat is high in bioavailable zinc, which means it’s easily absorbed into the body. Since vegans/vegetarians do not eat meat, this could put them at risk for deficiency. In addition, since non meat-eaters typically eat high amounts of legumes and whole grains, these contain properties called phytates which can inhibit the absorption of zinc.

Some Digestive Disorders

Some digestive disorders, including ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease, may decrease zinc absorption and therefore lead to lower than ideal levels of the nutrient. In addition, some other diseases may have the same effect.

Pregnant/Nursing Women

Pregnant women have an increased risk of zinc deficiency, especially if they had a low level going into their pregnancy. Lactation can also deplete mineral stores.

Symptoms of zinc deficiency include:

  • Decreased immunity
  • Lessened appetite
  • Dry skin
  • Diarrhea
  • Thinning hair
  • Impaired wound healing


Zinc toxicity can occur in those who take a high dosage of zinc supplements.

Symptoms of toxicity may include:

  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Cramping
  • Headaches
  • Reduced immune function
  • Loss of appetite

Foods containing Zinc

Many foods contain zinc. Oysters are the food that contains the most zinc per serving. However, red meat and poultry provide the majority of zinc in the American diet. Other good food sources include beans, nuts, crab, lobster, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals, and dairy products (yogurt, milk, cheese).

310 Vitamin C Powder contains 30mg of zinc (or 273% daily value) per serving.



Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs for normal growth and development. There are two different types of iron: heme and nonheme iron. While heme iron comes from animal proteins, nonheme comes from plant sources, including legumes, nuts, and leafy greens.

Iron is greatly involved with oxygen transport in the body. Your body uses the mineral to make hemoglobin – a protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body. It also uses iron to make myoglobin, which brings oxygen to your muscles.


It’s important to get the recommended daily amount of iron to prevent problems such as fatigue and anemia. Low iron levels can result in reduced energy levels, which is especially common for women during their reproductive years – when they lose blood every month during a monthly cycle.

Anemia is a true nutritional deficiency that can happen when hemoglobin goes below normal ranges. Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, fast heart rate, and sickness or weakness.   

Iron is also important for immune health, since hemoglobin provides oxygen to damaged cells, tissues and organs and helps the body fight disease. Iron levels that are too low could cause a weakened immune system and healing processes.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA for iron for adult men is 8 mg. The RDA for adult women (19-50 years old) is 18 mg, and for women 51 years and older it’s 8 mg. The RDA for pregnant women is 27 mg, and for breastfeeding women its 9 mg.


Although the body does store iron in the muscles, liver, spleen, and bone marrow, when iron stores are depleted, iron deficiency sets in as anemia. Different groups of people are more vulnerable to iron deficiency…

Pregnant women

The amount of blood in a woman’s body increases during pregnancy, so she needs more iron for herself and her baby. Getting too little iron can increase the risk of complications for her and her baby, and may also negatively affect the baby’s development.

Infants and toddlers

Infants and toddlers age 6 months and older need to eat iron-enriched solid foods or drink iron-fortified formula to avoid being deficient.

Some chronic diseases

Some diseases interfere with the body’s ability to use stored iron, including rheumatoid arthritis and inflammatory bowel disease.


Those who don’t eat any meat or seafood are at a greater risk for low iron levels since many iron-rich foods are animal-based.


High doses of iron supplements can cause uncomfortable symptoms, and extremely high doses well above the recommended daily intake can cause severe bodily damage and could even be fatal, especially for young children. Child-proof packaging and warning labels on iron supplements have greatly reduced the amount of poisonings from accidental digestion.

Symptoms of mildly high doses of iron supplements may cause..

  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Stomach pain

Foods containing Iron

Iron is found naturally in many foods and also added to some food products. Foods with high amounts of both heme and non-heme iron include meat, poultry, and seafood (heme iron sources); along with iron-fortified breakfast cereals and breads, beans (white and kidney), lentils, peas, nuts, raisins, and spinach (all plant-based or sources of non-heme iron).



Copper is an essential mineral that you need to get from your diet often, as your body is only able to store small amounts of it at once. The mineral is necessary for energy production, along with making blood vessels and connective tissues. It’s also needed for proper brain development and immune system functioning.


As with every other essential vitamin and mineral, it’s important to get enough copper in your diet to avoid potential health problems stemming from deficiency. Some research has linked high blood pressure and cholesterol to low copper levels – which means that getting adequate copper may support heart health. Animal studies have shown a connection between low copper levels and cardiovascular disease.

In addition, copper is important for immune health – with low levels of the mineral shown to reduce the amount of white blood cells in the body. This condition may make a person more susceptible to sickness and disease. Maintaining proper copper levels therefore may help you keep your body healthy.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for copper in adults over 19 years of age is 900 mcg, and 1,300 mcg for pregnant and nursing women.


Since copper is found in many foods, deficiency is not common. However, certain groups of people may be more at risk. Those who do not absorb nutrients well due to certain conditions or diseases, (such as celiac disease), may be at risk for more than one nutrient deficiency. Also, anyone taking high supplemental intakes of zinc supplements may be at risk of low copper since it can interfere with copper’s absorption.

Copper deficiency may cause:

  • Fatigue
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Weakened immunity
  • Weak/brittle bones
  • Loss of balance/coordination


Though copper toxicity is rare, it can happen in people consuming water that contains high levels of copper which has leached from household plumbing pipes and fixtures. Also, anyone taking a copper supplement should be careful to stay within safe limits. The tolerable upper intake for copper is 10,000 mcg for adults, along with pregnant and nursing women.

Copper toxicity could cause:

  • Liver damage
  • GI symptoms (abdominal pain, cramping, nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting)
  • Headache
  • Weakness

Foods containing Copper

The foods with the highest amounts of copper include shellfish, nuts and seeds, organ meats, whole grain products, wheat-bran cereals, and chocolate. Some individual high-copper foods include beef liver, oysters, baking chocolate, potatoes, shiitake mushrooms, cashews, sunflower seeds, dark chocolate, tofu, and chickpeas.



Iodine, also called iodide, is a trace mineral that’s found in various foods including dairy and seafood, and is also added to salt. The mineral is needed by the body to make thyroid hormones, which are needed for many important tasks including helping to control the body’s metabolism. In addition, iodine is a very important mineral for women during pregnancy, since the thyroid hormones help with proper bone and brain development.


Iodine is important to thyroid health, since without it, thyroid hormone production can decrease, resulting in a low or underactive thyroid, known as hypothyroidism. In addition, iodine is very important for brain development in fetuses and cognitive function in childhood.

Both mild and severe iodine deficiency can cause problems in childhood. It’s been shown that a severe iodine deficiency could cause harmful effects on the development of the brain and nervous system. In addition, mild deficiency may cause problems with neurological development.

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake of iodine is 150 mcg for adults, 220 mcg for pregnant teens and women, and 290 mcg for breastfeeding teens and women.


Iodine deficiency isn’t common in the US and Canada. However, people who don’t get enough of the nutrient will not make enough thyroid hormone, which can cause related serious health problems. Goiter, which is an enlarged thyroid gland, may be the first visible sign of iodine deficiency.

For pregnant women, iodine deficiency may cause stunted growth, intellectual disability, and other problems. In addition, mild iodine deficiency may cause lower-than-average IQ in infants and children, and may reduce the ability of adults to focus and think clearly.


Getting too much iodine could potentially be as harmful as being deficient in the mineral, so there is also an upper limit set for it – 1,100 mcg for adults.

Getting too much iodine could also lead to goiter or an enlarged thyroid gland, along with other thyroid gland inflammation. Other symptoms may include stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, and burning of the throat.

Foods containing Iodine

Foods that contain iodine include seaweed, which is the best source, along with enriched bread, seafood including cod, oysters, shrimp, and canned tuna, dairy products including yogurt, milk and cheddar cheese, eggs, and iodized salt.



Selenium is another trace mineral that, similar to iodine, you only need in small amounts – but it’s also vitally important to major bodily processes, including thyroid function and metabolism. It’s naturally found in foods and also available in supplement form.


Selenium is essential to help make DNA and protect against cell damage and infections. The mineral is a major component of enzymes and proteins that are also involved in reproduction and the metabolism of thyroid hormones.

Selenium has also been studied in connection with heart health. Some studies have shown a link between people with either low or high levels of selenium having an increased risk of cardiovascular disease – while other studies have shown no link. 

Recommended Daily Intake

The recommended daily intake of selenium for adults 19-50 years is 55 mcg, 60 mcg for pregnant women, and 70 mcg for nursing women.


Selenium deficiency is rare in the US and Canada, however, can pose a health risk for those already suffering from some underlying diseases. For instance, selenium levels are much lower in those undergoing kidney dialysis and those who have HIV. In these cases, supplementing with selenium may be beneficial, as directed by a physician.


High levels of selenium can also be problematic and may cause health issues. Acute selenium toxicity may cause severe GI and neurological symptoms amongst other health problems.

Most often, selenium toxicity is possible from taking too much of the mineral from supplement form. But, certain foods are also high in selenium and need to be monitored. For instance, Brazil nuts are very high in selenium and could cause selenium toxicity if eaten daily.

Foods containing Selenium

Foods that are high in selenium include Brazil nuts at number one by far, with 989% of the daily recommended value in just 1 ounce (6-8 nuts). Other foods high in selenium include fish such as yellowfin tuna, halibut, and sardines; shrimp; meat such as ham, beef steak, turkey and chicken; enriched macaroni; cottage cheese; brown rice; baked beans; and oatmeal.



Chromium – in the form called trivalent chromium – is a trace mineral that is safe for human consumption and can be found in foods and dietary supplements. The other form of chromium – hexavalent chromium – is a by-product of stainless steel and other manufacturing processes, and is known to be a toxin that could cause health problems.

Trivalent chromium is best known for assisting with the action of insulin in the body. Therefore, people that are deficient in chromium may develop severe diabetes that needs to be treated by replenishing the mineral. Chromium has also been shown to be important for other areas of health including being instrumental in heart health and assisting with healthy cholesterol levels.


Chromium has been studied in being helpful for diabetes, with studies assessing whether increasing the intake of the mineral by supplementation may reduce the risk of impaired glucose intolerance – and therefore help reduce the risk of diabetes or improve glycemic control.

Many people in the US take chromium supplements for this purpose, however, there is not enough evidence to show that these supplements are actually beneficial for this purpose. The FDA states that one small study on chromium picolinate supplementation suggests that it may help reduce the risk of insulin resistance, and therefore help prevent type 2 diabetes – however, results are uncertain because more studies are needed.

Chromium has also been studied in association with metabolic syndrome and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), along with high cholesterol levels – but more studies are needed to determine whether supplementing with the mineral is beneficial for these conditions.

In addition, chromium has shown potential for assisting with weight loss, in particular in the form chromium picolinate. Research shows that it may help to reduce body weight and body fat percentage, but only to a very small extent.

Adequate Intake (AI)

Instead of a recommended dietary allowance (RDA) or daily amount, experts have established Adequate Intakes for Chromium, or a level sufficient to ensure nutritional adequacy, since there is not enough evidence to establish an RDA.

The AI for chromium is 35 mcg for adult males, 25 mcg for adult females, 30 mcg for pregnant women, and 45 mcg for nursing women.


Some research shows that Chromium deficiency is not common in healthy populations, and there are no definitive deficiency symptoms. However, other research contradicts this, showing that it is actually a problem on a larger scale, with athletes, diabetics, pregnant women, and the elderly being most vulnerable.

These studies show that chromium deficiency can cause impaired insulin function, inhibition of energy production, greater risk for type 2 diabetes, and heart disease.

Other studies have shown a strong link between chromium deficiency, high blood insulin, and elevated blood cholesterol levels.


Experts have concluded that currently no adverse effects are linked to high intakes of trivalent chromium from food or supplements. However, the data is limited and high intakes of chromium could still have negative effects. Isolated cases showed high doses of chromium supplements could lead to weight loss, anemia, liver dysfunction, and hypoglycemia. 

Foods containing chromium

Trivalent chromium is present in many foods, including meats, grain products, fruits and veggies, nuts, spices, beer and wine. Some of the foods highest in the trace mineral include grape juice, ham, whole wheat English muffins, brewer’s yeast, orange juice, beef, lettuce, turkey breast, barbeque sauce, apple, green beans, banana, and tomato. Even though some juices and condiments contain chromium, it’s still better to get your intake from whole food sources.



Molybdenum is another important trace mineral like iron and magnesium, but is much less well-known. Although your body only needs it in small amounts, you have to get it regularly, as the mineral is a key component in many vital functions. Without it, unhealthy toxins would build up in your body and threaten your health.


Molybdenum is vital for many bodily processes, one of the most important being that it activates four essential enzymes in the body, which help drive important chemical reactions. These enzymes include…

  • Sulfite oxidase – helps prevent dangerous buildup of sulfites in the body.
  • Aldehyde oxidase – helps the liver break down alcohol and some drugs
  • Xanthine oxidase – helps break down nucleotides, the building blocks of DNA, excreting them in the urine
  • mARC – helps remove toxic byproducts of metabolism

As you can see, molybdenum plays a large role in helping to removing impurities and toxic substances in the body, making way for better health.

Recommended Daily Intake

The RDA (recommended dietary allowance) for molybendum is 45 mcg for adult males and females, and 50 mcg for pregnant and nursing women.


Molybdenum deficiency is not common, except for those with a genetic mutation that creates a rare metabolic disorder called molybdenum cofactor deficiency. In this condition, people are born without the ability to make molybdenum cofactor, and cannot activate the four enzymes mentioned above. Toxic levels of sulfite accumulate in their blood, and this can lead to brain abnormalities and severe developmental delays.


Although molybdenum is necessary for good health, getting too much can cause serious side effects for your health. The upper tolerable intake level (UL) for this trace mineral is 2,000 mcg per day. Though molybdenum toxicity is rare, some research shows that it may lead to gout-like symptoms, poor bone health, and decreased fertility.

Foods containing Molybdenum

Some of the food groups highest in molybdenum including legumes, whole grains, nuts, and beef liver. Specific foods highest include black-eyed peas, beef liver, lima beans, plain yogurt, milk, potato, enriched cereals, banana, white rice, and whole wheat bread.


In closing, we hope this article has opened your eyes to the unique benefits that the vitamins and minerals you eat every day truly provides to your body. We also hope it highlights the importance of a well-balanced, whole foods diet, in order to get all of the nutrients that you need for your body to function optimally and feel your best.

If you think that your diet is lacking in any major food categories, it’s important to see your physician and find out where you may be low in certain nutrients. Supplementation is a great way to help prevent deficiency of many vitamins and minerals, and support a great daily intake on a busy schedule.

Remember, that many of the vitamins and minerals discussed in this article work hand-in-hand, helping out with the same functions. Vitamins and minerals are critical for the functions of other nutrients. So, remember that they are all important – the ones you hear about all the time, and the ones you may have just learned about while reading this article!

We encourage you to check out our selection of superfood shakes, superfood juice, dietary supplements and more to help you get the most whole foods and essential nutrients into every day!




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