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What Vitamins Should I Take Daily To Stay Healthy? [2024 Updated]

Mitchelle Morgan

Updated on - Written by
Medically reviewed by Kathy Shattler, MS, RDN

what vitamins should i take

What vitamins should I take daily is a pervasive question we usually ask ourselves, our doctors, and Google!

Vitamins support immune function and metabolic health in various ways. Some are impeccable at bettering bone health, others cardiovascular health, others brain function, and others help with disease control.

Lack of proper nutrition may lead to deficiency conditions such as blurred vision, diarrhea, and congenital abnormalities.

Keep reading to learn how to improve your overall health with all the nutrients your body needs. Learn about nutrient deficiencies, symptoms, and how you can manage them.

Understanding The Lingo

  • Vitamins: An organic substance that is a vital nutrient that an organism needs in small amounts for its metabolic function to work correctly.
  • Fat-Soluble Vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat-soluble vitamins and do not mix with water. 
  • Water-Soluble Vitamins: Vitamins that can dissolve in water.
  • Minerals: Elements that are found in the soil and in diets that our bodies require for appropriate development and function.
  • Supplements: A dietary supplement is a product in the form of a tablet, pill, capsule, powder, or drink that helps enhance the diet. Examples are greens powders and protein powders.
  • Multivitamins: These are vitamin supplements containing various vitamins and minerals.
  • Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA): The amount of a nutrient (as a vitamin or mineral) that the Food and Nutrition Board of the National Academy of Sciences recommends for daily consumption—abbreviated RDA.
  • U.S. Pharmacopeia (USP): A legally recognized standard of identification, potency, quality, purity, labeling, and branding for drug substances, dosage forms, and other medicinal items, including nutritional and dietary supplements. 
  • Daily Value (DV): A word on nutrition labels based on the RDA (Recommended Dietary Allowance) and a specified caloric amount that helps consumers plan a healthy diet using food-labeled data.

What Vitamins And Minerals Should I Take?

Everyone needs minerals and vitamins to boost their immune system and to live a healthy lifestyle.

However, not everyone takes the time to ensure that they eat a balanced diet. Many people end up with some sort of vitamin deficiency, leading to health conditions that you could have otherwise avoided.

So here is a list of the vitamins you need to mitigate the above and more.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A[1] is one of the essential nutrients for our bodies, which keeps the cell health, reproductive system, immune system, and vision in good shape.

Because vitamin A aids in the formation of healthy cells, it impacts our vital organs, such as the cardiovascular and respiratory systems. Vitamin A supplementation has even been linked to reducing the symptoms of measles[2] and cancer[3] in some studies.

Vitamin A comes in two forms, both of which we must obtain through our diets. 

  • Provitamin A[4], for example, is found in dark-colored fresh fruits and veggies such as kale, carrots, spinach, broccoli, and cantaloupe.
  • The second type is the preformed vitamin A, found in animal-based foods such as fish, dairy, and meat.

Benefits

Deficiency

Best Food Sources

Some of the best sources of Vitamin A are liver, dairy products, fish, and fruits. Others are squash, chicken liver, salmon, king mackerel, and trout.

What To Note 

Vitamin A’s recommended daily allowance (RDA) for men and women is 900 mcg and 700 mcg per day, respectively, which can be readily met by eating a whole-foods diet.

However, to avoid toxicity, do not exceed the tolerated upper limit (UL) of 10,000 IU (3,000 mcg) for adults.

B-Complex Vitamins

The vitamin B complex[16] is made up of the following eight B vitamins:

  • B-1 also thiamine.
  • B-2 also riboflavin.
  • B-3 also niacin.
  • B-5 also pantothenic acid.
  • B-6 also pyridoxine.
  • B-7 also biotin.
  • B-9 also folic acid.
  • B-12 is also cobalamin.

Each of these vital vitamins helps your body function properly. They are found in multiple food sources, such as salmon, eggs, milk, greens, and legumes. B vitamins are essential for maintaining excellent health and happiness.

B vitamins significantly influence brain function, energy production, and cell metabolism and, as such, are fundamental units of a healthy body.

Benefits

  • Support cell health.
  • Support cardiovascular[17] health.
  • Promote healthy energy levels[18], especially B12 and B6.
  • Support healthy brain function[19], especially B5.
  • Promote good digestion and a healthy appetite. B6[20] is the most potent for this function.
  • Vitamin B12 supports proper nerve function[21].
  • Aid cholesterol and hormone[22] production.
  • Prevent birth defects[23], particularly folic acid, before pregnancy.

Deficiency 

  • Swollen tongue.
  • Skin rashes.
  • Fatigue and weakness.
  • Depression and other mental issues.
  • Diarrhea and abdominal cramps.

These signs may indicate that you have a vitamin B complex deficiency. However, it is safe to get professional medical advice to ascertain that the deficit is the main issue.

Best Food Sources

Meat, particularly liver, seafood, eggs, dairy products, brown rice, and fortified foods like nutritional yeast and breakfast cereal are all excellent sources of B vitamins.

What To Note

Here is a table with the daily vitamin B nutrients from supplement intake for both men and women. Additional Definitions to Table: One NE, or Niacin Equivalent, equals one mg of niacin which is 60 mg of tryptophan. Dietary Folate Equivalents (DFE) equal the amount of dietary folate present in the food plus 1.7x the amount of mg of folic acid added to the food.

VitaminMen in mgWomen in mg
B1 Thiamine1.2 milligrams (mg)1.1 mg
B2 Riboflavin1.3 mg1.1 mg
B3 Niacin16 mg NE (Niacin Equivalent)14 mg NE
B5 Panthothenic acid5 mg5 mg
B6 Pyridoxine1.3 mg1.3 mg
B7 Biotin30 micrograms (mcg)30 mcg
B9 Folic acid400 mcg Dietary Folate Equivalent (DFE)400 mcg DFE
B12 Cobalamin2.4 mcg2.4 mcg

Vitamin C

Ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, is a water-soluble nutrient meaning it dissolves in water and is not stored in the body’s fat tissues. Unfortunately, vitamin C is not well retained; thus, it must be consumed daily via fruits, vegetables, or supplements.

Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that can neutralize damaging free radicals[24] and helps to manage infestations and repair wounds. It’s also one of the best vitamins for hair growth.

Benefits

Deficiency

  • Bumpy and rough skin.
  • Slow healing and easy bruising.
  • Brittle nails with red spots.
  • Painful and swollen joints.
  • Yet again, these signs may indicate another medical condition.

Best Food Sources

Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, and tomato juice. Kiwifruit, red and green peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, strawberries, and cantaloupe are excellent dietary sources.

What To Note

The recommended daily dose of vitamin C for people is 65 to 90 mg, with a maximum of 2,000 mg per day. Megadoses of vitamin C supplementation may cause diarrhea.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a family of fat-soluble secosteroids[34] that promotes the body’s absorption of magnesium, calcium, and phosphate, among other things. Vitamin D3 and vitamin D2 are the most significant molecules in this category in humans.

On the other hand, Vitamin D is distinct from the other vitamins because the body may create it. As a result, it’s a prohormone or hormonal precursor. When we absorb the sun’s energy or UVB radiation, our bodies produce it.

Vitamins and minerals are important nutrients that the body cannot produce, and so they must be obtained from the diet. Regardless, sometimes supplementation is needed to get enough vitamin D. Getting adequate vitamin D from foods is often difficult and the days of radiant sunshine are generally not sufficient to maintain optimum blood levels of vitamin D.

In this case, vitamin D supplements may be prescribed by a physician or recommended by a Registered Dietitian to counter any vitamin D deficiency.

Benefits

  • Support immunological[35], cognitive[36], and neurological system health.
  • Support healthy and strong bones[37] and teeth.
  • Control insulin levels and assist in the management of diabetes[38]
  • Modulate the gene transcription implicated in cancer development[39] to improve heart health and lung function.

Deficiency

  • Weak and brittle bones.
  • Rickets in kids.
  • Slow wound healing.
  • Hair loss.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Pregnancy complications.

These signs may indicate other medical issues, so please find another qualified health provider for assurance that it is a vitamin D deficiency. 

The best way to determine if a vitamin D deficiency exists is through a blood test. Anything lower than 30 ng/ml is considered insufficient, and anything lower than 20 ng/ml is deficient.

Best Food Sources

Fatty fish, such as mackerel, tuna, and salmon, are high in vitamin D. Some dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals are fortified with vitamin D.

There’s also a lot of vitamin D in fish oil (also omega-3 fatty acids), beef liver, egg yolks, and cheese.

What To Note

Vitamin D intake should be 400 international units (IU) for children under the age of one year, 600 IU for persons between the ages of one and seventy, and 800 IU for those beyond seventy, depending on which organization is giving out the recommendations since they do vary slightly.

Vitamin E

Four tocopherols and four tocotrienols[40] are among the eight fat-soluble components of vitamin E.

Vitamin E deficit, which is uncommon and mainly caused by a problem processing dietary fat rather than a vitamin E-deficient diet, can induce nerve issues and chronic diseases. It is also essential for vision.

Benefits

  • Vitamin E is essential for vision and the prevention of other diseases.
  • Helps blood health[41].
  • Fundamental for brain function[42].
  • Good for skin health[43].
  • Essential for the development of the nervous system, especially in utero.

Deficiency

  • Vision problems.
  • Weak limbs.
  • Nerve and muscle damage.
  • Loss of body movement control.

Best Food Sources

Peanuts, peanut butter, red bell peppers, beet greens, collard greens, pumpkin seeds, spinach, wheat germ oil, almonds, sunflower, sunflower seeds, safflower, and soybean oil are all high in Vitamin E.

What To Note

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is 15 mg per day (or 22 international units, IU) for men and women aged 14 and up; this also includes pregnant women. Lactating women require a little more, 19 mg (28 IU) every day.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is made up of several different molecules. Vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 tend to be the most essential of these molecules.

The human body requires vitamin K for the post-synthesis alteration of specific proteins necessary for blood clotting or managing calcium binding in skeletal and other tissues.

Benefits

Deficiency

  • Excessive bleeding wounds.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Higher risk of heart disease.

Best Food Sources

The best food sources of vitamin K1 are green leafy vegetables like cabbage, kale, broccoli, collard greens, spinach, and lettuce.

You can get vitamin K2 from eggs and cheese. Fruits like strawberries, mamey sapote, avocado, and mangos are high in this vitamin.

What To Note

The suggested vitamin K consumption varies with age and gender. Women above 19 should ingest 90 micrograms (mcg) per day, while men should ingest 120 mcg.

Calcium

Calcium is the body’s most prevalent mineral essential for bone health.

Humans require calcium to maintain the quality of strong bones. It’s also necessary for keeping the brain and other sections of the body in good working order. It helps with muscle activity and cardiovascular health.

Vitamin D, which helps with the absorption of calcium, is required in addition to calcium for homeostasis.

Benefits

Deficiency 

  • Hypocalcemia[51].
  • Dental issues.
  • Eye cataracts.
  • Brain and mental issues.
  • Brittle bones.

These signs are not definitive until you get a medical professional to ascertain that calcium deficiency is the issue entirely. The best measurement for calcium is ionized blood calcium. Since the parathyroid glands regulate calcium metabolism, blood levels are kept normal by drawing it in from the bones. An ionized calcium level is the only way to tell if serum calcium levels are truly low since they measure free calcium, not total blood calcium.

Best Food Sources

The best food sources that supply the body with calcium are oranges, almonds, yogurt, broccoli, tofu, figs, leaf veggies, cheese, beans, spinach, navy beans, salmon, dairy products, lentils, and chia seeds.

What To Note

The amount of calcium you require[52] is determined by your age and gender. Adults aged 19 to 50 should consume 1,000mg of calcium each day.

The daily minimum for women 51 and above is 1,200 mg. The recommended upper limit per day is 2,500 mg for those 19-50, and for those older than 51, 2,000 mg is the maximum daily allowable limit.

Iron

Hemoglobin, a protein transporting oxygen through the blood, requires iron to function properly. When you have enough iron, several other vital bodily systems work optimally.

Iron is beneficial to a healthy pregnancy, greater vitality, and improved physical performance. Female athletes are more likely to have an iron deficit[53].

Benefits

  • Help in the making of hemoglobin[54], the red oxygen-transporting agent in blood.
  • Help with energy production.
  • Boost the immune system[55].
  • Assist with the regulation of body temperature.

Deficiency 

  • Anemia.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fatigue.
  • Lightheadedness.
  • Pale skin.
  • Breathing issues.

These signs may indicate an iron deficiency, but ensure that a medical professional has carried out tests to ensure that it is an iron deficiency.

Best Food Sources

The food sources that offer you ample iron supply include red meat, kidney beans, chicken, peas, dried fruits, soybeans, and fortified cereals.

What To Note

Kids between the ages of 1-3 need 7 mg of iron;  4-8 years old need 10 mg of iron per day; and 9-13 need 8 mg per day. Teen girls should get 15 mg, and teen boys should get 11 mg/day. Women need up to 18 mg or 27 mg of iron if pregnant, and men need about 8 mg.

In children between 2–11 years, the daily total iron consumption from dietary sources is 13.7–15.1 mg per day. The average iron intake is 16.3 mg per day for adolescents between 12–19 years, 19.3–20.5 mg per day for men, and 17.0–18.9 mg per day for women aged 19 and up. Pregnant women consume 14.7 mg of iron per day on average. Pregnant women get less iron than what their bodies need from their diet.

Potassium

Potassium[56] is the body’s third most common mineral. It aids the body in fluid regulation, nerve transmission, and muscle contraction control.

Your cells contain almost 98 percent of the potassium in your body. Most of this is present in your muscle cells, with the remaining 20% in your liver, bones, and red blood cells.

It acts as an electrolyte once inside your bloodstream.

Benefits

Deficiency 

  • Tiredness.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Muscle stiffness and aches.
  • Palpitations of the heart.
  • Respiratory issues.
  • Fluctuations in blood pressure.
  • Gastrointestinal discomforts.

These signs need to be confirmed with the medical profession that they result from the lack of potassium.

Best Food Sources

The best sources are spinach, bananas, avocado, yams, sweet potatoes, oranges, tomatoes, fortified milk, watermelon, raisins, coconut water, and seafood, such as salmon.

What To Note

Healthy people should strive for 3,500–4,700 mg of potassium per day from meals and supplements.

Zinc

Zinc[63] is classified as an essential nutrient, which means that your body cannot generate or store it on its own. As a result, you must ensure a consistent supply of it in your food. 

Zinc is found in all body cells, making it the second most abundant trace mineral in our bodies.

Zinc is necessary for various processes in your body, like gene expression, protein synthesis, and immune function, among others.

Benefits

Deficiency 

  • Slow wound healing.
  • The compromised immunity.
  • Susceptible to infections.
  • Skin rash around the mouth.
  • Skin ulcers.
  • Vision problems.

Best Food Sources

These foods help you supplement the recommended daily amount of zinc: oysters, poultry, baked beans, fortified cereals, whole grains, cashews, and almonds.

What To Note

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for healthy adult men is 11 mg, and for adult women, it is 8 mg. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should take 11 and 12 mg per day, correspondingly.

Unless you have a medical condition that prevents you from absorbing zinc, you should be able to meet the required daily zinc intake via diet only.

Recommendations For Different Age Groups

A daily multivitamin and mineral intake will differ according to age. Below is a breakdown of how many vitamins one should take daily regarding their age.

Vitamins For Toddlers

A toddler is a child between the ages of one and three. Kids this age need all the vitamins and minerals we have covered above, but these are essential for toddlers. The government recommends that all children aged six months to 5 years be given vitamins A, C, and vitamin D.

The first is vitamin A which improves your toddler’s low-light vision and keeps their skin healthy[72].

Next is vitamin C, which aids in the absorption of iron[73] from food. And lastly, vitamin D is necessary for strong bones.

The daily recommended intake for toddlers is 300 mcg of vitamin A, 0.9 mcg of vitamin B12, 15 mg of vitamin C, and 600 IU of vitamin D.

Vitamins For Children

In this regard; we include children from 3 to 18. Calcium is the most significant mineral they need. Besides calcium, they also need vitamin B12 and other B vitamins. They can also benefit from vitamin D and vitamin E.

Furthermore, girls will need more iron food sources or supplements after adolescence. 

Vitamins For Adults

Once someone gets to 18 and above, they are considered an adult.

A woman who has hit menopause needs more calcium. Vitamin D supports calcium and is beneficial in this age group as well.

Women with heavy menses or pregnancy require more iron in their diet from healthy food. Iron is one of the recommended prenatal vitamins that expectant moms are advised to use.

An adult who has undergone any gastrointestinal surgery[74] requires supplementation of vitamins K or Zinc.

Vitamins For Seniors

Men and women above 70 need calcium supplementation because of the decreased absorption of nutrients. They need to take at least 1200 mg of calcium and 400-420 mg of magnesium per day. Seniors need to pay particular attention to vitamins D, A, C, E, K, and B vitamins.

Vitamins During Pregnancy

A pregnant woman will need vitamins that help with fetal growth[75] like bone growth, brain development, circulatory system, and other body systems a fetus needs. These vitamins help prevent congenital disabilities[76] and ensure the mum is also healthy.

These vitamins and minerals are vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B, E, Zinc, Iron[77], Iodine, Folate, and Folic acid. It is also important for women to take folic acid before pregnancy, not just during pregnancy, a case for multivitamin use for women in childbearing years.

Do Multivitamins Work?

Multivitamins do work if taken correctly. They contain many vitamins and other nutrients; thus, they cater to making your overall health better.

Why Take A Supplement?

Generally, vitamin and mineral supplements help the body’s systems function optimally. And you may have to take a supplement for a few reasons.

  • Underlying medical conditions inhibit the absorption of the vitamin or mineral your body needs.
  • Deficiency due to an unbalanced diet.
  • Pregnancy

How To Choose A High-Quality Supplement?

Here are some of the pointers that help you decipher whether a supplement is of high quality:

  • The brand reputation of the supplement.
  • The third-party testing of a product.
  • The presence of quality, potency, and labeling certification.
  • The ingredient profile.
  • Your needs. For instance, if you want an energy-boosting supplement[78], go for one with vitamins for energy production like B vitamins. Also, if you are watching your weight, go for supplements that contain zero sugar or controversial ingredients that may harm your weight goals, such as some artificial sweeteners.

Summary

Vitamins and minerals are fundamental in our bodies. We need them from the beginning, even before we are conceived. A woman may need to start ingesting folic acid three months before conceiving. And when they get pregnant, there is still the need to take zinc, magnesium, vitamin, and iron supplements to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

And that is not all!

Certain medical conditions and ages may also need you to use supplements. Everyone needs them: men, women, toddlers, and seniors.

But one thing that you have to do is seek a health care provider’s advice to get high-quality supplements. Also, note that you still need to eat a balanced diet and exercise.

Additionally, observe the recommended daily intake dosages that we covered above so that you mitigate any adverse reactions. Supplement bottles also contain a recommended serving size, but they may not be age-specific.

Frequently Asked Questions

What vitamins should I take daily?

You need to take vitamin D, E, calcium, magnesium, iron, folate, C, and B complex. But this really varies with the individual, individual health concerns, and diet.

What are the most essential vitamins?

The most essential vitamins and minerals are zinc, iron, calcium, potassium, Vitamin K, D, E, C, B, and A.  All vitamins work together and are essential to our health, so asking which ones are the most essential is not a valid concept.

Vitamins and supplements, which is better?

Vitamins are better than supplements for one big reason. Vitamins come from organic food, which is untampered and natural. Supplements may be natural or synthetic and are taken in addition to the diet.

What are the best vitamins for women?

Nutrient absorption is as vital for women as it is for men. However, a lady undergoing her menses would benefit best from iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B nutrients. A pregnant woman would need prenatal vitamins.


+ 78 sources

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Mitchelle Morgan

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

Mitchelle Morgan is a health and wellness writer with over 10 years of experience. She holds a Master's in Communication. Her mission is to provide readers with information that helps them live a better lifestyle. All her work is backed by scientific evidence to ensure readers get valuable and actionable content.

Medically reviewed by:

Kathy Shattler

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