Vitamins and Minerals Explained | Center for Science in the Public Interest


Here’s how much of each vitamin and mineral we should be aiming for each day (from foods and supplements combined), according to new Daily Values ​​(DVs) set by the Food and Drug Administration. DVs are based on the National Academy of Medicine Recommended Nutritional Intakes (AJR), which vary slightly by age and sex.

The FDA updated the DVs in 2016, but labels didn’t have to start using the new DVs until 2020 or (for smaller companies) 2021.

New Daily Values ​​(DV)

  • Vitamin A: 900mcg
  • Vitamin D: 20 mcg (800 IU)
  • Thiamine (Vitamin B-1): 1.2mg
  • Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2): 1.3mg
  • Niacin (Vitamin B-3): 16mg
  • Vitamin B-6: 1.7mg
  • Vitamin B-12: 2.4mcg
  • Biotin: 30mcg
  • Pantothenic acid: 5mg
  • The iron: 18mg
  • Magnesium: 420mg
  • Selenium: 55mcg
  • Chromium: 35mcg
  • Iodine: 150mcg
  • Manganese: 2.3mg
  • Molybdenum: 45mcg
  • Chloride: 2300mg
  • Boron: DV not established
  • Vitamin C: 90mg
  • Vitamin E : 15mg
  • Vitamin K: 120mcg
  • Folate: 400 mcg DFE (235 mcg folic acid)
  • Calcium: 1300mg
  • Phosphorus: 1250mg
  • Zinc: 11mg
  • Copper: 0.9mg
  • Potassium: 4700mg
  • Choline: 550mg
  • Nickel: DV not established
  • Silicon: DV not established
  • Tin: DV not established
  • Vanadium: DV not established

What else do you need to know

Vitamin A

Most multivitamins contain a mixture of retinol (vitamin A) and beta-carotene (which our body converts to retinol). The DV has been changed from 5000 IU to 3000 IU, but new labels list the new DV in micrograms (900 mcg). More than 10,000 IU (3,000 mcg) per day of retinol from supplements can cause birth defects if taken by pregnant women. High doses of beta-carotene (25,000 to 50,000 IU per day) increase the risk of lung cancer in smokers and possibly former smokers.

Vitamin D

The DV doubled from 400 IU to 800 IU (20 mcg). Our bodies make vitamin D from sunlight, and it’s added to most milk, some breakfast cereals, and some yogurts. A large-scale trial found that vitamin D does not prevent cancer, heart disease, or stroke. Results on memory, asthma, autoimmune diseases, etc. are expected soon. Taking more than 4,000 IU (100 mcg) per day can lead to dangerously high blood calcium levels.

Thiamine (B-1), Riboflavin (B-2), Niacin (B-3) and Vitamin B-6

The DVs for these B vitamins have gone down slightly. Doses well above the DV are unnecessary but likely harmless. Exceptions: Levels above 35 milligrams of niacin from supplements can cause skin redness and more than 100 mg of B-6 can cause (reversible) nerve damage and skin damage.

Vitamin B-12

The DV went from 6 micrograms to 2.4 mcg. Adults over 50 should get most of their 2.4 mcg from a supplement or fortified foods, as they may not produce enough stomach acid to digest and absorb the B-12 from meat. , eggs and dairy products. People who take acid blockers or metformin or who do not eat animal foods may also have low levels. A B-12 deficiency can cause irreversible nerve damage that can masquerade as dementia.

Biotin and pantothenic acid

Both are superfluous in supplements. We get a lot from our food.

The iron

Premenopausal women, who lose iron during menstruation, should get the DV (18 milligrams). Men and postmenopausal women only need 8 mg. More is not better, because there’s no easy way to tell if you have genes that cause your body to store excess iron (hemochromatosis), which can increase your risk of cirrhosis, cancer of the liver or diabetes.


The DV went from 400 milligrams to 420 mg. About half of all Americans consume too little, which can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Leafy greens, beans, whole grains, and nuts are the best sources. Few multis have more than 100mg. Many have less. More than 350 mg of supplements (but not food) can cause diarrhea and stomach cramps.


The DV went from 70 micrograms to 55 mcg. Americans consume on average about 100 mcg per day from their diet. It’s still unclear whether selenium supplements increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and prostate cancer, so stick to a multi with no more than about 55 mcg.


The DV went from 120 micrograms to 35 mcg. If you have type 2 diabetes, don’t expect chromium to lower your blood sugar or boost your metabolism.

Iodine, manganese, molybdenum, chloride and boron

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warns that many women in their 20s and 30s may not be getting enough iodine, which the developing brain needs during pregnancy. Milk, yogurt and seafood are good sources. We get a lot of the other four minerals from our diet.

Vitamin C

The DV went from 60 milligrams to 90 mg. Many Americans get too little vitamin C from their diet. Smokers need 125mg per day because smoking creates extra free radicals that damage cells. Taking more than 1,000 mg per day can cause kidney stones in men, and more than 2,000 mg per day can cause diarrhea in both men and women.

Vitamin E

The DV went from 30 IU to 15 milligrams, which equals 22.4 IU. High doses of vitamin E may not be safe. In a large trial, men who took 400 IU daily for 5.5 years had a 17% higher risk of prostate cancer. To play it safe, look for a multi with no more than 80 UIs. Good food sources include nuts, oils, and leafy greens.

Vitamin K

The DV went from 80 micrograms to 120 mcg. Most multivitamins have less because vitamin K can interfere with blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin). If you are taking a blood thinner, consult your doctor to adjust the dose before starting (or stopping) a multivitamin containing vitamin K. Leafy greens are the best food source.


The new DV is 400 micrograms DFE (Dietary Folate Equivalents), but supplements will also list the old units (micrograms or mcg). DFE represents our ability to absorb the folic acid added to supplements and fortified foods better than the folate naturally found in foods.

CAUTION: Women who could become pregnant should take a supplement of 400 mcg of folic acid (680 mcg DFE) to reduce the risk of birth defects like spina bifida, which can occur before a woman knows she is pregnant. If a multi has 100% of the new DV, that equates to 235 mcg of folic acid, so that’s not enough.


The DV went from 1000 milligrams to 1300 mg. It’s based on what kids ages 9-18 need. Women and premenopausal men up to 70 years old need 1000 mg. Postmenopausal women and men over 70 need 1200 mg. Many multivitamins contain 200 to 300 mg (some contain much less). This may be enough to get you to the DV, as each serving of milk, yogurt, cheese, or fortified foods contains 150-300mg, and most people get 250mg from the rest of their diet. Taking a daily supplement of 1,000 mg or more may increase the risk of kidney stones. Taking 2000 mg or more may increase the risk of prostate cancer.


The DV is 1,250 milligrams. Most people eat a lot of meat, poultry, grains, dairy products, and the phosphates and phosphoric acid found in processed foods. Too much phosphorus can increase the risk of heart and kidney disease. Look for a multi with little or none at all.

Zinc and Copper

The DV for zinc has increased from 15 milligrams to 11 mg and the DV for copper has increased from 2 mg to 0.9 mg. Too much zinc (more than 40 mg from food and supplements combined) can make it harder for copper to be absorbed.


The DV, which has increased from 3,500 milligrams to 4,700 mg, is already exceeded. The most recent recommendations: 3400 mg for men and 2600 mg for women. Potassium can help lower blood pressure, but a typical multi only contains 80 mg. Your best sources: fruits and vegetables. Orange, anyone?


Pregnant women need 450 milligrams a day, but even prenatal supplements usually provide little or none.

Nickel, silicon, tin and vanadium

It is not even certain that we need it.


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