Vitamins and Mineral Supplements: The Key Metabolic Spark Plug

If I could help you liven up your diet while reducing your chances of chronic disease and acute illness, would you give my recommendations a try? I am guessing yes, if you are still reading this article.

Today, let’s ponder the importance of the micronutrients we consume to ensure that our bodies function properly. Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals that work together to perform hundreds of actions within our bodies. They help ensure the formation of strong bones, heal wounds, manage blood pressure, convert food into energy, and repair cellular damage to name just a few.2

So, what’s the difference between a vitamin and a mineral?

Minerals are located in soil and water and easily find their way into our bodies through the plants, fish, protein, and fluids we consume. It’s slightly more challenging to reap the benefits of the vitamins found in food and other sources as their nutrient value can be altered during the cooking and storage process.2

What happens when we lack a vitamin or mineral in our diet?

Mineral and vitamin deficiencies can lead to a variety of health problems. Weak bones, fatigue, a decreased immune system, chronic disease, acute illness, or even death in extreme cases. These deficiencies are oftentimes the result of the foods and supplements we eat; however, it could also be a result of what we don’t eat, or don’t adequately absorb due to underlying disease.1

It is important to consult our health teams (physician/dietician) to ensure that we are consuming the appropriate amounts of vitamins and minerals based upon our current health status. 1

What minerals do we need?

Minerals are necessary for the normal functioning of the body’s cells. Minerals can be broken down further into macrominerals and trace minerals.3

Macrominerals (Electrolytes): The body needs larger quantities in order to ensure optimal bone, muscle, heart, and brain function.3

Trace Minerals: The body needs small quantities.3



Purpose: Stored within bones and teeth, supporting their structure and hardness. Helps move blood through the body, while aiding in the release of important hormones and enzymes.4

Food Sources: Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Kale, Broccoli, Cabbage, Salmon4

Recommended Daily Allowance: Adults 19-50 years: 1,000 mg4.

Sodium Chloride

Purpose: Helps keep the amount of fluid inside and outside of your cells in balance. It also helps maintain proper blood volume, blood pressure, and pH of your bodily fluids.5

Food Sources: Table Salt, Sea Salt

Recommended Daily Allowance: 9 to 50 years: 2.3 grams per day6


Purpose: Regulates protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation.7

Food Sources: Spinach, Legumes Nuts, Seeds, Whole Grains

Recommended Daily Allowance: 19-30 years: 400 mg male, 310 mg female7
31-50 years: 420 mg male, 320 mg female7


Purpose: The body needs phosphorus to build and repair bones and teeth, help nerves function, and make muscles contract.8

Food Sources: Chicken, Turkey, Pork, Seafood, Dairy, Nuts9

Recommended Daily Allowance: Recommended daily intake (RDI) for adults is 700 mg9


Purpose: Involved in muscle contractions, heart function and managing water balance.10

Food Sources: Yams, White Potatoes, Sweet Potato, Salmon, Avocado10

Recommended Daily Allowance: There is no RDI for potassium at this time; however, organizations around the world recommend consuming at least 3,500 mg per day through food.10

Trace Minerals


Purpose: Chromium helps facilitate the metabolism and storage of carbs, fat, and protein in the body.12

Food Sources: Broccoli, Grape Juice, Potatoes, Garlic, Basil, Turkey Breast, Bananas12

Recommended Daily Allowance: 35 (mcg) is considered adequate for men, 25 mcg for women.12


Purpose: Copper works with iron to help the body form red blood cells. It also helps keep the blood vessels, nerves, immune system, and bones healthy. Copper also aids in iron absorption.15

Food Sources: Shellfish, Seeds/Nuts, Organ Meats, Whole Grain Products14

Recommended Daily Allowance: 19+ years old: 900 mcg14


Purpose: Fluoride In appropriate amounts protects teeth from decay by demineralization.16

Food Sources: Water, Tea, Coffee, Shellfish, Grapes, Potatoes17

Recommended Daily Allowance: Adults 3-4 mg17


Purpose: The body needs iodine to make thyroid hormones. These hormones control the body’s metabolism and many other important functions.18

Food Sources: Fish, Milk, Yogurt, Cheese, Iodized Salt18

Recommended Daily Allowance: 150 mcg for adults18


Purpose: Iron is an essential component of hemoglobin, an erythrocyte (red blood cell) protein that transfers oxygen from the lungs to the tissues.19 

Food Sources: Lean Meat, Seafood, Nuts, Beans, Vegetables19

Recommended Daily Allowance: 8 mg male and 18 mg female adults19


Purpose: Manganese contributes to many bodily functions, including the metabolism of amino acids, cholesterol, glucose, and carbohydrates. It also plays a role in bone formation, blood clotting, and reducing inflammation.20

Food Sources: Whole Grains, Clams, Oysters, Mussels, Nuts, Soybeans, Rice20

Recommended Daily Allowance: 19-51 + years: Male 2.3 mg, Female 1.8 mg20


Purpose: Molybdenum prevents the buildup of dangerous sulfites in the body; helps the liver break down alcohol and some drugs; removes toxic byproducts of metabolism; and helps the body get rid of nucleotides when they are no longer needed.21

Food Sources: Beans, Lentils, Grains, Organ Meats21

Recommended Daily Allowance: 109 mcg for men, 76 mcg for women21


Purpose: Selenium is an essential trace mineral that is important for many bodily processes, including cognitive function, a healthy immune system, and fertility in both men and women.11

Food Sources: Brazil Nuts, Seafood, Meats11

Recommended Daily Allowance: 55 mcg for adults11


Purpose: Zinc helps your immune system and metabolism function. Zinc assists with wound healing and your sense of taste and smell.13

Food Sources: Chicken, Red Meat13

Recommended Daily Allowance: The recommended daily amount of zinc is 8 milligrams (mg) for women and 11 mg for adult men.13

What vitamins do we need?

 We need to consume the following vitamins for normal cell function, growth, and development.


Vitamin A

Purpose: Keeps cells healthy, helps with vision, and helps build bones.2

Food Sources: Dairy, Fish, Meat

Recommended Daily Allowance: 19-50+ years: 900 mcg male, 700 mcg female22

Vitamin B

Purpose: Vitamin B complex helps support/promote: cell health, growth of red blood cells, energy levels, good eyesight, healthy brain function, good digestion, healthy appetite, proper nerve function, hormone/cholesterol production, cardiovascular health, muscle tone.23

Food Sources: Whole Grains, Red Meat, Poultry, Fish, Eggs, Milk, Cheese, Legumes, Seeds/Nuts, Broccoli, Spinach, Citrus Fruits, Avocados, Bananas24

Recommended Daily Allowance:

For women, the recommended daily intake is: B-1: 1.1 milligrams (mg), B-2: 1.1 mg, B-3: 14 mg, B-5: 5 mg (RDA not established), B-6: 1.3 mg, biotin: 30 micrograms (mcg) (RDA not established), folic acid: 400 mcg, B-12: 2.4 mcg.

For men, the recommended daily intake is: B-1: 1.2 mg, B-2: 1.3 mg, B-3: 16 mg, B-5: 5 mg (RDA not established), B-6: 1.3 mg, biotin: 30 mcg (RDA not established), folic acid: 400 mcg, B-12: 2.4 mcg24

Vitamin C

Purpose: Vitamin C plays an important role in a number of bodily functions including the production of collagen, L-carnitine, and some neurotransmitters. It helps metabolize proteins and its antioxidant activity may reduce the risk of some cancers.26

Food Sources: Orange, Strawberries, Red Pepper, Broccoli25

Recommended Daily Allowance: Adults 65-90 mg daily. Upper daily limit of 2,000 mg a day.25

Vitamin D

Purpose: Vitamin D is important for bone health and immune function.27

Food Sources: Mushrooms, Oily Fish, Egg Yolks27

Recommended Daily Allowance:  25-100 mcg is generally needed to maintain optimum blood levels.27

Vitamin E

Purpose: Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and boosts the immune system to fight off bacteria and viruses. 28

Food Sources: Wheat Germ Oil, Sunflower Oil, Safflower Oil, Nuts, Spinach, Broccoli28

Recommended Daily Allowance: 15 mg adults28

Vitamin K

Purpose: Vitamin K is integral in the blood clotting process and healthy bones.29

Food Sources: Spinach, Kale, Broccoli, Lettuce, Blueberries, Figs, Vegetable Oils, Meat, Cheese, Eggs29

Recommended Daily Allowance:
19+ Years – 120mcg Male, 90mcg women29

Work Cited.

About the Author: Courtney Alcala-Herrera MS

Courtney lives in Texas with her husband and their two dogs. Courtney is a clinical research and health education expert whose life mission is to spread health and lifestyle modifications to the public. When she’s not traveling across the country monitoring research studies, you can catch Courtney counseling her fitness clients, prepping for her next bikini competition, or racing off to explore with her husband.


Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and is not meant as medical advice, nor is it to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Please consult your physician before starting or changing your diet or exercise program. Any use of this information is at the sole discretion and responsibility of the user.