Vitamins and minerals are micronutrients that are responsible for many life-sustaining biological processes. While most people can get enough from diet alone, others may need to take a supplement.

Each vitamin and mineral plays a different role in bodily processes. For example, sodium and potassium are crucial for proper function of the central nervous system.

Consuming enough of the required vitamins and minerals is an essential part of eating a balanced diet.

Although a varied diet usually provides the micronutrients a person needs, some people with restrictive diets — such as vegetarians, people with certain medical conditions, and older adults — may need to take a supplement.

However, to ensure safety, a person should only take supplements under the guidance of a doctor or registered dietitian.

Read more to learn how much of each vitamin and mineral an individual should consume, which micronutrients are harmful when a person consumes them in excess, and what common deficiencies there are.

Each person’s dietary needs will vary slightly, but it can be useful to have benchmark numbers for vitamin and mineral intake as a point of reference.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) sets out guidelines for the amounts of different vitamins and minerals an individual should consume per day. It uses recommended Daily Value (DV), which applies to most healthy people.

However, individual nutrient needs will vary depending on many factors. These may include a person’s age, body weight, overall health, and whether they are pregnant or breastfeeding.

Vitamin DV chart

The FDA recommends that most healthy people consume the following amounts of vitamins:

biotin30 micrograms (mcg)
choline550 mcg
folate, or folic acid400 mcg of dietary folate equivalents
niacin16 milligrams (mg) of niacin equivalents
pantothenic acid5 mg
riboflavin1.3 mg
thiamin1.2 mg
vitamin A900 mcg of retinol activity equivalents
vitamin B61.7 mg
vitamin B122.4 mcg
vitamin C90 mg
vitamin D20 mcg
vitamin E15 mg of alpha-tocopherol
vitamin K120 mcg

Mineral DV chart

The FDA recommends that most healthy people consume the following amounts of minerals:

calcium1,300 mcg
chloride2,300 mg
chromium35 mcg
copper0.9 mg
iodine150 mg
iron18 mg
magnesium420 mg
manganese2.3 mg
molybdenum45 mcg
phosphorus1,250 mg
potassium4,700 mg
selenium55 mcg
sodium2,300 mg
zinc11 mg

While DV can be a useful starting point, it is not the only term experts use to describe how much of something an individual should consume.

Researchers, dietitians, manufacturers, and government bodies use different abbreviations. This can make reading nutritional labels challenging.

Below are common terms a person may encounter when reading food or supplement labels:

  • DV: This abbreviation is often present on food packaging. It indicates the recommended amount of a certain nutrient to consume each day.
  • Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA): This is the recommended intake of nutrients that meets the nutritional requirements of most healthy people. RDA is usually the same as the DV.
  • Adequate Intake (AI): When researchers do not have enough evidence to calculate an RDA of a specific nutrient, they will make an estimation reflecting most recent research.
  • Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL): This indicates the maximum amount a person can consume without experiencing adverse effects.
  • Dietary Reference Intake (DRI): This is a general term that includes RDA, AI, and UL.

In most cases, people will not consume too much of a particular vitamin or mineral, especially when they are getting it from food.

Overconsumption usually happens when an individual takes a nutritional supplement. Vitamin and mineral toxicity is rare, and it only occurs when a person consumes a certain nutrient in very large amounts.

It is important to note that not all vitamins and minerals are harmful when a person consumes them in excess.

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water, so when a person consumes too much of these, the body usually gets rid of the excess in the urine. Vitamin C and B vitamins are all water-soluble.

However, fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fat and oils. This means that fatty tissues and the liver store them, and they can build up over time. In some cases, they could reach toxic levels. This is particularly common in people who consume too many fat-soluble vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins include:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • vitamin K

Not all fat-soluble vitamins are harmful when an individual consumes them in large amounts. For instance, it is generally safe to consume a surplus of vitamin D, although people should avoid consuming megadoses of this vitamin over long periods of time.

Consuming excess amounts of certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium, can cause adverse effects.

Usually, mineral or vitamin overconsumption results from excessive intake of a certain micronutrient through the use of multivitamins or supplements.

When someone consistently exceeds the DV of certain vitamins and minerals, they may experience some side effects. The body uses each micronutrient differently, and therefore each can cause different symptoms.

In the table below, we outline potential symptoms of acute or chronic toxicity due to overconsumption of specific vitamins and minerals:

Vitamin or mineralSide effects
vitamin Apeeling skin
liver damage
vision loss
niacinburning, itching sensation
low blood pressure
a buildup of fluid behind the eye
calciumgastric reflux
kidney stones
reduction in the absorption of iron, zinc, and magnesium
abdominal cramping
hair and nail brittleness
skin rashes and sores

Some vitamin and mineral deficiencies are particularly common. Some of these include:

  • vitamin A
  • vitamin B6
  • vitamin B12
  • vitamin D
  • vitamin E
  • iron
  • folate
  • vitamin C
  • calcium
  • magnesium

Most people can get these vitamins and minerals from a varied, balanced diet, which includes fruit, vegetables, whole grains, lean meat, healthy fats, and dairy products.

However, there are many reasons a person may not be able to get the nutrients they need through diet alone.

The following could contribute to inadequate nutrient intake or absorption:

  • age
  • certain medications
  • some medical conditions
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • diet

In these cases, people may need to take a supplement to meet the DV of certain nutrients.

Multivitamins are supplements that contain a combination of different vitamins and minerals.

Individuals often take multivitamins to “cover their bases.” However, many multivitamins contain high levels of nutrients a person may already be consuming enough of in their diet.

Some diets, such as vegetarian or vegan diets or the diets of people with allergies or food intolerances, may be lacking in certain nutrients. Therefore, a person may need to supplement their diet with specific vitamins, minerals, or both.

For example, people following a vegan diet are at risk of developing deficiencies in vitamin B12, iodine, zinc, and iron. They may need to take a supplement or multivitamin to meet their needs.

If someone is considering taking a vitamin or mineral supplement, they should consult a doctor first. The doctor can order a simple blood test to check for any deficiencies.

Taking too many dietary supplements or consuming a specific vitamin or mineral in excessive amounts could result in severe side effects.

If a person is concerned about taking too many supplements, they should seek guidance from a healthcare professional.

If someone thinks their consumption of specific vitamins or minerals is either too high or too low, they should consult a doctor.

A simple vitamin and nutrition blood or urine test can help determine which micronutrients a person is lacking. A doctor can then provide guidance on which supplements are suitable for the individual to take. The doctor may also refer them to a dietitian for nutritional assistance.

The FDA sets out guidelines on how much of each vitamin and mineral a person should consume per day. Health experts refer to this as DV.

While most people can meet these values through food alone, individuals following restrictive diets or with certain health conditions may need to take dietary supplements.

People should always contact a doctor before taking new supplements or multivitamins, as consuming too much of certain nutrients can have adverse effects.