Key Micronutrients

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Micronutrients

Micronutrients are substances such as vitamins and minerals that are present in the diet in relatively small quantities.  Components of the diet which are present in large amounts are referred to as  macronutrients by many nutrition specialists.  The macronutrients include carbohydrates, fats, and protein, all of which provide calories.

Few Americans are deficient in calories or macronutrients.  Excess weight from too many calories is currently a problem for many people.

Micronutrient status is a different story however.

According to surveys done by the National Institutes of Health, most Americans obtain the required amounts of the most micronutrients.  But there are certain micronutrients which tend to be more difficult to obtain in adequate amounts through a normal diet and are more likely to be found at deficient levels in many people.  For example magnesium and vitamin B12 are micronutrients which are found at low or deficient levels in many people, especially those over the age of 50.  Adequate levels of vitamin D are also difficult for many people to obtain.  Nutritional supplements may be helpful in obtaining adequate amounts of these key micronutrients.

The Food and Drug administration has published a list of Daily Values covering both macronutrients and micronutrients.  These Daily Values are now in use on most food labels sold in the grocery store.  They are based on a 2000 calorie diet.  The Daily Value for fat is 65 grams, meaning that people should try to eat no more than 65 grams of fat per day, of which no more than 20 grams should be saturated fat.  People who require more or fewer than 2000 calories should adjust the amounts of macronutrients accordingly.  The Daily Values for the micronutrients do not need to be adjusted.

The Daily Value for Sodium is 2400 mg, and again this means that people should try not to consume more than 2400 mg of sodium per day.  The Daily Value for cholesterol is 300 mg, and it is recommended to not exceed this value.

The Daily Values for vitamins can be thought of as the minimum amounts to be obtained each day.

The following table contains a complete list of the Daily Values.

Table 1.

List of Daily Values
Macronutrients
Total Fat 65 g
 Saturated fat 20 g
Total carbohydrate 300 g
 Fiber 25 grams
Protein 50 g
 
Micronutrients
Vitamin A 5000 IU
Vitamin C 60 mg
Vitamin D 400 IU
Vitamin E 30 IU
Vitamin K 80 mcg
Thiamin 1.5 mg
Riboflavin 1.7 mg
Niacin 20 mg
Vitamin B6 2.0 mg
Folate 400 mcg
Vitamin B12 6.0 mcg
Biotin 300 mcg
Pantothenic acid 10 mg
 
Sodium 2400 mg
Potassium 3500 mg
Calcium 1000 mg
Magnesium 400 mg
Phosphorus 1000 mg
Manganese 2.0 mg
Zinc 15 mg
Copper 2.0 mg
Selenium 70 mcg
Iron 18 mg
Iodine 150 mcg
Chromium 120 mcg
Molybdenum 75 mcg
Chloride 3400 mg
 
Cholesterol 300 mg

g = grams, mg = milligrams, mcg = micrograms
IU = International Units
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