Do I Need a Vitamin or Supplement? Back »

Written by Erin Eggert under the direction and review of Marj Zastrow, former SDSU Extension Nutrition Field Specialist.


Have you thought about taking a vitamin or mineral supplement? For some supplements can be very beneficial, for others it can actually be harmful. It is important to know what you are putting into your body. Before taking a supplement you should always consult a physician.

Vitamins and minerals play an important role in growth, strong bones, muscle contraction, brain function, healthy skin, blood formation, food digestion, and more1. Supplements are normally recommended for individuals that have certain health problems: people over the age of 50, vegetarians or vegans, or individuals that are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding2,3. For most people it is best too get vitamins and minerals from a healthy diet.

The recommended Daily Values (DV) can be seen in the table below. The Upper Limit (UL) is also shown. This is the maximum amount people should consume before adverse reactions start to appear.

Vitamin and Mineral Recommendations4

Micronutrient
Current DV1
UL2
Vitamin A
5,000 IU
3,000 mcg (10,000 IU)
Vitamin C
60 mg
2000 mg
Calcium
1,000 mg
2,000 mga
Iron
18 mg
45 mg
Vitamin D
400 IU
100 mcg (4,000 IU)
Vitamin E
30 IU
1000 mg
Vitamin K
80 mcg
ND
Thiamin
1.5 mg
ND
Riboflavin
1.7 mg
ND
Niacin
20 mg
35 mg
Vitamin B6
2 mg
100 mg
Folate
400 mcg
1,000 mcg
Vitamin B12
6 mcg
ND
Biotin
300 mcg
ND
Pantothenic acid
10 mg
ND
Phosphorus
1,000 mg
4 g
Iodine
150 mcg
1,100 mcg
Magnesium
400 mg
350 mg
Zinc
15 mg
40 mg
Selenium
70 mcg
400 mcg
Copper
2 mg
10,000 mcg
Manganese
2 mg
11 mg
Chromium
120 mcg
ND
Molybdenum
75 mcg
2,000 mcg
Chloride
3,400 mg
3.6 g

 

1The table lists the Daily Values (DVs) based on a caloric intake of 2,000 calories, for adults and children four or more years of age. This list includes only those nutrients for which a DRV has been established.

2The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) is the highest level of daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no risk of adverse health effects to almost all individuals in the general population. The UL values listed above pertain to adult (≥ 19 y) men and women, excluding pregnant and/or lactating women

a The UL for calcium is 2,500 mg for men and women 19-50 y and 2,000 mg for those individuals ≥ 51 y.

ND = not determined

The Upper Level of vitamins and minerals is important to pay attention to. Vitamins and minerals, just like prescription medications, can have adverse reactions. Some of the adverse reactions include nausea, vomiting, headache, blurred vision, birth defects, liver problems, heart rhythm problems, constipation and more5.

Before taking a supplement make sure to consult your doctor and let them know. They can ensure that the vitamin or mineral is right for you and it won’t have any negative impact on other medications.

References:

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