While many people make sure to eat a healthy diet, keeping track of vitamin intake is just as important as calories or fat. Knowing what vitamins you need in your diet will help you improve your health--or at least it can help make an informed choice for multivitamin supplements. Lifestyle choices influence vitamin needs as well. The U.S. Department of Agriculture's recommendations are designed for those living moderately active lifestyles.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that adult males have at least 75 mg and adult females 65 mg of Vitamin C in their diets each day. Fruits are the easiest way to include Vitamin C in a diet. Oranges have 50 mg of Vitamin C for every 100 g of weight, grapefruit has 30 mg for every 100 g and tomatoes have 10 mg for every 100 g. Vegetables are a good source as well: Potatoes have 20 mg of Vitamin C for every 100 g.
Calcium is essential for bone health. The USDA recommends adults have at least at least 1,000 mg of calcium in their diet each day--1,200 mg if they are over 50. An 8 ounce serving of low-fat yogurt has 415 mg of calcium; an 8-ounce serving of milk has 302 mg. Other dairy products such as yogurt and and cheese are easy sources of calcium; kale, broccoli and multivitamins are calcium-rich alternatives for the lactose-intolerant or vegan.
Another vitamin the USDA recommends is chromium. It is needed in small amounts for optimum health. Easy sources of chromium include broccoli, grape juice and potatoes--each of which contains the trace amounts needed.
Adults should have at least at least 2.4 micrograms of Vitamin B-12 in their diet each day--with females needing more if they are pregnant or lactating. Vitamin B-12 is found naturally in almost all meat and dairy products; vegetarians or vegans should take a multivitamin or nutritional supplement.
Folic acid is necessary for cellular health. Potatoes and wheat are among good sources of folic acid.
Both children and adults need Iron. Males over 18 need approximately 8 mg a day; females need 18 mg--more if they are pregnant or lactating. Meats and fish are rich in Iron; vegetarians and vegans can include Iron in their diet through tofu and beans.
Magnesium is crucial to healthy bones. Adult males need 400 mg a day of magnesium, while females need at least 320 mg. The amount goes up with age. Three ounces of halibut contain 90 mg of magnesium, while nuts offer 60 to 75 mg in each 1 ounce serving. Green vegetables are a rich source of magnesium as well.
Vitamin B-3 helps prevents pellagra, which causes delusions, diarrhea and painful skin sores. Adult males need approximately 16 mg of Vitamin B-3 a day; adult females need 14.
Potassium is essential for good health. Adults need at least 4,700 mg a day--lactating women need more. Potassium helps reduce the risk of hypertension and stroke. Certain foods are exceptionally rich in potassium; one banana has 422 mg and one papaya has 781 mg.
Vitamin B-6 is important for protein metabolism. Adults need 1.3 mg a day and even more if they are over 50. Females need to include extra Vitamin B-6 in their diet if pregnant or lactating. Good sources of Vitamin B-6 include poultry, fish and multivitamins.
Vitamin B2, or riboflavin, is essential for antioxidant functions. Adult males should have at least 1.1 mg a day in their diet; adult females should have at least 1.3 mg--more if they are pregnant or breastfeeding. Eating fish, poultry and cereal are all ways of getting riboflavin in your diet.
Selenium is important in trace amounts to help fight free radicals. Adults need less than 1 mg of selenium a day, and it can be found in almost all plant products.