Sunday, February 4, 2001

• Vitamin A

Benefits: Essential for vision, growth, reproductive and immune function

Found in: Liver, fish-liver oils, fortified cow’s milk, eggs, carrots, cantaloupe, mangoes, green leafy vegetables.

RDA: 700 micrograms (mcg) for women older than 12; 900 mcg for men older than 12.

Upper limit: 3,000 mcg.

Who might need extra? Diabetics and those on cholesterol-lowering drugs.

• Beta carotene

Benefits: Aids immune system and cell growth, including skin, hair, bones and nails.

Found in: Carrots, cantaloupe, broccoli, spinach, collard greens, sweet potatoes.

RDA: None set.

Upper limit: More than 50 milligrams (mg) every other day may turn skin yellow.

• Vitamin D

Benefits: Maintains teeth and bones; allows absorption of calcium.

Found in: Fortified dairy foods and cereals and fatty fish such as herring.

RDA: Infants to adults, 5 mcg (200 IU); adults 51 to 70, 10 mcg (400 IU); older than 70, 15 mcg (600 IU).

Upper limit: Infants, 25 mcg (1,000 IU); older than 1, 50 mcg (2,000 IU).

Who might need extra? Those who are at risk of osteoporosis, the elderly, those who live in areas with little sunlight.

• Vitamin E

Benefits: Protects cells from free-radical damage. Needed to make red blood cells, muscles and tissue.

Found in: Wheat-germ oil, sunflower oil and seeds, papaya, almonds, egg yolks, fortified cereals.

RDA: 4 to 7 mg (6 to 10 IU) for infants and children; 8 mg (12 IU) for adult women; 10 mg (15 IU) for adult men.

Upper limit: 1,000 mg.

Who might need extra? Diabetics, smokers, those suffering from heart disease.

• Vitamin K

Benefits: Needed for blood clotting, healthy bones and kidney function.

Found in: Green leafy vegetables.

RDA: Men, 120 mcg; women, 90 mcg.

Upper limit: None set.

Who might need extra? Pregnant women, people with pancreatic disease and people on antibiotics or anti-seizure medication.

• Vitamin C

Benefits: Anti-oxidant that protects against cell damage. Helps maintain vision and immune function.

Found in: Citrus fruits, papaya, strawberries, peppers, broccoli, tomatoes, potatoes.

RDA: Children 1 to 3, 45 mg; 4 to 8, 25 mg; 9 to 13, 45 mg. Teens, 65 to 75 mg. Adult men, 90 mg; women, 75 mg.

Upper limit: 2,000 mg.

Who might need extra? Smokers, the elderly, women taking birth-control pills, heavy exercisers and people who take aspirin regularly.

• Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

Benefits: Needed for releasing energy from food. Helps cells break down carbohydrates and protein.

Found in: Enriched or fortified whole-grain products; fresh fruits and vegetables; meats.

RDA: Children 1 to 3, 0.5 mg; 4 to 8, 0.6 mg; 9 to 13, 0.9 mg. Men 14 to 19, 1.2 mg; women 14 to 18, 1.0 mg; adults over 19, 1.1 mg.

Upper limit: None set.

Who might need extra: Those who drink a lot of alcohol, pregnant women, people who take diuretics to control blood pressure, people on kidney dialysis.

• Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Benefits: Enables the body to break down sugar and fat for energy.

Found in: Milk, fortified cereals and bread.

RDA: 1.1 mg.

Upper limit: None set.

Who might need extra? Pregnant women or women who take birth-control pills; people on tricyclic anti-depressants.

• Vitamin B3 (niacin)

Benefits: Essential for reactions in the body that enable it to use carbohydrates and fat.

Found in: Meat, poultry, fish; enriched and whole-grain breads and cereals; seeds.

RDA: Adults: 14 to 16 mg.

Upper limit: 35 mg for adults.

Who might need extra? Diabetics and arthritis sufferers might benefit.

• Vitamin B6 (pyroxidal)

Benefits: Essential for breakdown of fats, manufacture of proteins, synthesis of estrogen and other hormones. Key to niacin and DNA production.

Found in: Fortified cereals, non-citrus fruits, meats, sunflower seeds, avocados.

RDA: Adults, 1.3 mg; men 51 and older, 1.7 mg; women 51 and older, 1.5 mg.

Upper limit: 100 mg.

Who might need extra? Women who take birth-control pills; heavy drinkers; people who take tuberculosis medication or MAO inhibitors.

• Folic acid (folate)

Benefits: Key for many body functions and prevention of birth defects.

Found in: Enriched whole-grain foods, spinach, oranges.

RDA: 400 mcg.

Upper limit: 1,000 mcg.

Who might need extra? Pregnant women; women who take birth-control pills; people who take aspirin or other drugs that reduce stomach acid; heavy drinkers.

• Vitamin B12

Benefits: Needed for DNA formation, breakdown of fats and protein.

Found in: Seafood, organ meats, game.

RDA: 2.4 mcg.

Upper limit: None set.

Who might need extra? Adults over 50; vegetarians; people taking ulcer drugs or Metformin for diabetes.

• Calcium

Benefits: Needed for strong bones and teeth. Prevents osteoporosis. May help lower blood pressure.

Found in: Dairy products, calcium-fortified orange juice, tofu, broccoli, almonds.

RDA: Ages 9 to 13, 1,300 mg; 19 to 50, 1,000 mg; 51 and older, 1,200 mg.

Upper limit: 2,500 mg.

Who might need extra? Post-menopausal women and elderly men; people on corticosteriods or heparin.

• Chromium

Benefits: Helps maintain normal blood-sugar metabolism.

Found in: American cheese, brewer’s yeast, tap water, wheat germ.

RDA: 50 to 200 mcg.

Upper limit: None set.

Who might need extra? Promoted as an aid to losing weight.

• Iron

Benefits: Needed for making hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red blood cells.

Found in: Meat, eggs, vegetables, shellfish, fortified cereals, apricots, beans.

RDA: Men and post-menopausal women, 8 mg; pre-menopausal women, 18 mg; pregnant women, 30 mg.

Upper limit: 45 mg.

Who might need extra? Women of childbearing age; women with heavy periods; anemics.

• Zinc

Benefits: Needed to maintain bone, muscle, skin, hair, retinas and pancreas.

Found in: Meat, liver, eggs, seafood.

RDA: Men, 11 mg; women, 8 mg.

Upper limit: 40 mg.

Who might need extra? People who take ACE inhibitors, birth-control pills, estrogen-replacement therapy, AZT, calcium, copper or iron.

Sources: U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Academy of Sciences, American Dietetic Association

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