Top 10 Daily Nutrients


Top 10 Daily Nutrients


1. Vitamin A


Vitamin A is not just a single chemical compound; it is actually a combination of compounds including retinol, retinal, retinoic acid and carotenoids. This vitamin is fat soluble- meaning when you consume vitamin A it can be stored in the body. Generally Vitamin A can be found in two main forms in food- retinol and a precursor called beta carotene.


Why Do I need it?


-Vitamin A helps maintain healthy eyesight

-Boosts immunity and immune system functioning

-Contributes to tissue growth

-Can help keep the skin healthy

-Contributes to bone metabolism

-Plays a part in gene transcription, embryonic development and reproduction.


Deficiency Signs


Generally in the UK and other developed countries we tend consume more than enough vitamin A, however for developing countries deficiency of vitamin A can often be a common cause for concern- especially amongst children.


Initial chronic deficiencies of vitamin A can lead to night blindness which can develop further, leading to drying of the eyes and bitots spots. Additionally vitamin A deficiency can affect the immune system leading you more likely to develop infections.


How Much Do I Need?


For women  600 µg a day is recommended and for men 700 µg.

Because vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin it is important to remember this vitamin can be stored- and therefore an overdose is possible! However in order to consume “too much” vitamin A you will have to consume around 10,000 µg.


Where Can I Find it?


Vitamin A can be found as its carotenoid precursor in dark leafy green and brightly coloured vegetables including spinach, kale, carrots and sweet potato.  Animal products are also good sources of vitamin A including meat, dairy products and eggs, whereby liver is particularly high source.



2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is a water soluble vitamin- meaning it cannot be stored in the body and generally consuming too much will result in it being excreted in the urine.


Why Do I Need it?


-Vitamin C has a series of roles in the body whereby it:

-Enhances immune system functioning

-Is a potent antioxidant that has been shown in certain studies to lower the risk of cancer.

-Plays a role in the health of hair, skin and the gums.

-Contributes to the functioning of collagen and  the functioning of blood vessels.

-Contributes to normal energy yielding metabolism and the reduction of tiredness and fatigue.

-Has wound healing properties.

-When consumed with iron vitamin C can enhance the absorption of iron.


How Much Do I Need?


40-50mg of vitamin C is recommended per day.


Deficiency Signs


Vitamin C is another vitamin that here in the UK we tend to get plenty of in the UK but the main clinical symptom is bleeding gums. This was discovered in 1747 by James Lind where he discovered that symptoms of scurvy disappeared after feeding shipmates lemons and limes.


Where Can I Find it?


Vitamin C is present in a lot of fruit and vegetables including oranges, citrus fruits, broccoli, brussel sprouts and potatoes.



3. Vitamin D


Vitamin D is a group of fat soluble compounds that are important within mineral absorption- in particular calcium absorption. For us, the most important compounds in this group are vitamin D3 and D2 which can be formed in the skin when we are exposed to UV light.


Why Do I Need it?


Vitamin D can:


-Contribute to the absorption and utilisation of calcium and phosphorus.

-Can contribute to normal blood calcium levels.

-Can contribute to the maintenance of normal bones.

-Can contribute to the maintenance of teeth and bones.

-Can contribute to normal muscle function and the functioning of the immune system.


How Much Do I Need?


There is no set recommendation for vitamin D however for ethnic minorities, pregnant women, and children a vitamin D supplement is often required- especially in the winter months when there is little sunshine!


Deficiency Signs


Signs and clinical symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include weak bones and muscles and has even been associated with asthma in children.


Where Can I Find it?


Vitamin D can be found in oily fish such as salmon, eggs and fortified cereals and spreads.



4. Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin that has a large chemicals structure that has been associated with antioxidant activity.


Why Do I Need it?


Vitamin E can help maintain healthy skin and hair.

Its antioxidant activity means that vitamin E can contribute to the protection of cells from oxidative stress.


How Much Do I Need?


4mg of vitamin E is generally recommended per day.


Deficiency Signs


Vitamin E deficiency can cause neurological problems affecting nerve conduction of electrical impulses. Not only this but vitamin E deficiency has also been correlated with a low birth weight in babies, which in turn is associated with health problems in later life.


Where Can I Find it?


Vitamin E is generally found in healthy high fat foods such as nuts and seeds, avocado and wheat germ and cereal products.



5. Vitamin K


Why Do I Need it?


Vitamin K is an essential nutrient because:


-It contributes to normal blood clotting.

-It contributes to the maintenance of normal bones.


How Much Do I Need?


Around 70 µg of vitamin K is recommended per day.


Deficiency Signs


Vitamin K deficiency can result in bleeding gums, nose bleeds and easy bruising.


Where Can I Find it?


Vitamin K can be found in leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils and cereals.



6. Choline


Choline is a water soluble essential nutrient that must be consumed through the diet in order for the body to remain healthy.


Why Do I Need it?


Choline can:


-Contribute to normal homocysteine metabolism

-Contribute to lipid metabolism.

-Contribute to liver function

-Support neurological functioning, nerve impulse transmission, cognitive function and brain memory.


How Much Do I Need?


In the diet it is recommended we consume around 425-550mg of choline per day.


Deficiency Signs


Deficiency signs include fatty liver and hemorrhagic kidney necrosis.


Where Can I Find it?


Choline can be consumed in the diet by eating eggs (the yolk in particular), beef, pork and fish.



7. Potassium

Potassium is an important component in the diet required for muscles to work properly- including the heart!


Why Do I Need it?


Potassium can:


-Contribute to the normal functioning of the nervous system.

-Contribute to muscle functioning.

-And can help to maintain normal blood pressure.


How Much Do I Need?


In the diet it is recommended to consume around 3500mg a day.


Deficiency Signs


Low levels of potassium is termed hypokalaemia which can result in symptoms such as weakness, tiredness, nausea, cramping, low blood pressure and palpitations.


Where Can I Find it?


Potassium can be obtained from foods such as bananas, dark leafy greens, potatoes, yogurt and fish.



8. Calcium

We all remember being told to drink a glass of milk when we were younger, but what is the importance of calcium in the diet?


Why Do I Need it?


Calcium is an essential mineral in the diet that is required to:


-Contribute to normal blood clotting

-Contribute to Normal energy yielding metabolism, the reduction of tiredness and fatigue

-Contribute to Normal muscle function

-Can help the growth and maintenance of teeth and bones.

-Can play a role in cell division and the function of digestive enzymes.


How Much Do I Need?


Around 700mg of calcium is recommended to be consumed in the diet.


Deficiency Signs


A deficiency in calcium can cause weak bones and in severe cases a condition called rickets.


Where Can I Find it?


Calcium can be obtained from dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese.



9. Magnesium


Why Do I Need it?


Magnesium in the diet is required to contribute:

-To the reduction of tiredness and fatigue and energy yielding metabolism

-Electrolyte balance

-Functioning of the nervous system

-Normal muscle function and the maintenance of bones and teeth

-Protein synthesis


How Much Do I Need?


Around 270-30mg of magnesium is recommended daily.


Deficiency Signs


Clinical symptoms of magnesium deficiency include weakness, muscle cramps, nausea, high blood pressure, fatigue, poor memory and respiratory issues.


Where Can I Find it?


Magnesium can be found in foods such as beans, nuts, whole grains and green leafy vegetables.



10. Fibre


Fibre is an important part of the diet that many people don’t consider to be an essential nutrient, whereby the consumption of fibre has a series of health benefits.


Why Do I Need it?


Fibre is needed in the diet to:

-Improve digestion

-Contribute to normal bowel function

-Help with weight loss and weight control

-Increase fullness

-Help maintain a healthy immune system

-Help maintain normal blood lipid levels and a healthy cardiovascular system

-Help maintain normal blood sugar levels

-Improve blood cholesterol


How Much Do I Need?


In the UK around 19g of insoluble fibre is recommended per day, with 28 to 34g of total fibre.


Deficiency Signs


In the UK we consume a mere 12.5g of insoluble fibre per day which can cause irregular bowel movements. Not only this, but consuming more fibre has been shown to help lower the risk of chronic diseases including cardiovascular disease and cancer.


Where Can I Find it?


Fibre can be found in a series of different food sources including beans, wholegrain foods, nuts, pulses, fruit and vegetables and cereal based products.



A Take Home Message


It is important to remember that the intake of nutrients in this article is a general recommendation based on population data- therefore it is an average and not your individual requirement! Due to inter-variation, different people require different amounts of nutrients which will be consumed over a long per of time- not just a single day. As long as you are consuming a balanced diet and taking dietary supplements your individual intakes should be adequately met.


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