Vitamins and minerals are in some way responsible for nearly every process and function performed within and by the body. Without enough of these nutrients, the body cannot function optimally, and deficiencies in the form of both minor and major health issues may arise.

These are the top 10 essential vitamins and minerals for men and women.

1. Antioxidants

Antioxidants work together to protect the body from free radicals and the toxins and damage that come along with the presence of free radicals. Vitamins A, C, and E are the most potent antioxidants. Free radicals are harmful compounds that are released in response to stress, inflammation, and infection within the body. Antioxidants ultimately cleanse, prevent, and protect.

Vitamin A is important for healthy vision, skeletal tissue, skin, and teeth. A variety of orange foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, and melons are common dietary sources of Vitamin A. 700 micrograms for women and 900 micrograms for men are the recommended amounts one should aim to consume each day.

Vitamin C has many significant roles in the body. It aids in iron absorption and the strengthening of blood vessels, can help to reduce bad cholesterol and triglycerides, and repairs and regenerates tissues. Oranges are the obvious source of Vitamin C, but brussels sprouts, blueberries, and grapefruits are great sources as well.

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Aside from its antioxidant properties, Vitamin E also has a role in gene regulation, and in boosting the immune system. Almonds and sunflower seeds are dietary sources of Vitamin E. 15 milligrams per day is the recommended dietary allowance for adult men and women.

2. Vitamin D

The sun is likely the first thing that comes to mind in reference to this vitamin. Vitamin D is essential for calcium absorption, bone growth, immune and neuromuscular function, and inflammation reduction.

Sunlight and egg yolks are decent sources of Vitamin D, but fortified foods or Vitamin D supplements are the best way to get adequate amounts of this vitamin daily. 600 micrograms each day is the recommended dietary allowance for adults.

3. Potassium

Potassium is a mineral and electrolyte that aids in muscle contraction, nerve function, and the movement of nutrients and waste products in and out of cells within the body. Potassium also helps to keep the heartbeat regular.

Leafy greens, grapes, and bananas are great sources of potassium in the diet. The recommended intake for adults is 4,700 milligrams daily.

4. Calcium

Calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body. Calcium is important for strong bones and healthy teeth. It is required for muscular function, nerve transmission, vascular contractions, hormonal secretion, and intracellular signaling.

Common foods containing high amounts of calcium include dairy products and soybeans. The recommended dietary intake for both adult men and women under 50 is 1,000 milligrams per day, and 1,200 milligrams for individuals older than 50.

5. Zinc

Zinc is important for immune function. Inadequate amounts of zinc ingestion can make you more susceptible to disease and illness. Zinc also plays a role in the healing of wounds, synthesizing of DNA, and growth during childhood.

Poultry, legumes, and oysters are good dietary sources of zinc. Recommended daily amounts are 8 milligrams for women and 11 milligrams per day for men.

6. Iron

Iron is an essential mineral that carries and helps to transport oxygen throughout the body, and it is well known that we must have oxygen to survive. Iron is also a component of many proteins and enzymes within the body.

Women require more iron than men due to their menstrual cycles and pregnancy. Red meat and spinach are common dietary sources of iron. Adult men need 8-11 milligrams and adult women need 8-18 milligrams per day.

7. The B Vitamins

There are eight different B vitamins. Collectively, the B vitamins help to form red blood cells and aid in the process of the body generating energy from the food we eat.

Fish, poultry, and peas are a good source of the B vitamins in the diet. For adults, the recommended daily dosages per B vitamin are as follows:

• B1: 2-10mg/day

• B2: 5-10mg/day

• B3 (Niacinamide – this form will not cause flushing): 15-30mg/day

• B5: 0-15mgs (women and over 50)

• B6: 6-12mg/day

• B7 (biotin): 100-300mcgs

• Folic acid: 200-400mcg/day

• B12: 12-100mcg

Table source: dotFIT

8. Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential for the prevention of excessive bleeding, as it plays a significant role in helping blood to clot. This vitamin is one that is not typically used as a dietary supplement; rather it’s most easily ingested through the diet.

Leafy greens, meats, and cheeses are good dietary sources of Vitamin K. Daily adequate intake levels are 90 micrograms for women and 120 micrograms per men.

9. Magnesium

Magnesium has significant roles in many biomechanical reactions in the body, such as regulation of blood pressure, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and protein synthesis. It is a mineral that is required for energy production.

The recommended dietary allowance for men is 400-420 milligrams per day and 310-320 milligrams per day for women. Spinach, legumes, and whole grains are common sources of magnesium in the diet.

10. Probiotics

Probiotics are unlike other vitamin and mineral supplements because they are alive – they’re live organisms! They are most well known for the supplement’s benefits related to gut health, but the benefits of probiotics extend much more than that. Probiotics are also thought to beneficial for the treatment of neurological disorders, digestive issues, and mental health illnesses.

Kombucha, kefir, and yogurt are good dietary sources of probiotics, but supplementation is the best way to ensure your consumption of probiotics is regular and in adequate amounts. Doses vary based on the type of probiotic, but they are equally important for both men and women.

Image credit: Unsplash

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