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.
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
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:
|30 micrograms (mcg)
|folate, or folic acid
|400 mcg of dietary folate equivalents
|16 milligrams (mg) of
|900 mcg of retinol activity equivalents
|15 mg of alpha-tocopherol
Mineral DV chart
The FDA recommends that most healthy people consume the following amounts of minerals:
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.
- 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
usuallythe 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.
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
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
Consuming excess amounts of certain minerals, such as calcium, magnesium, zinc, and selenium,
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
|Vitamin or mineral
|burning, itching sensation
low blood pressure
a buildup of fluid behind the eye
reduction in the absorption of iron, zinc, and magnesium
hair and nail brittleness
skin rashes and sores
Some vitamin and mineral deficiencies are particularly common. Some of these
- vitamin A
- vitamin B6
- vitamin B12
- vitamin D
- vitamin E
- vitamin C
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:
- certain medications
- some medical conditions
In these cases, people
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
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
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
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.