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Water-Soluble Vitamins

Thiamin (B1)
Good to know: Also called vitamin B1, vitamin F, thiamine.
Recommendations: Men ages 14-70+, 1.2 milligrams/day

Women ages 14-18, 1.0 milligrams/day

Women ages 19-70+, 1.1 milligrams/day

Benefits: Important for producing energy from carbohydrates, and for proper nerve function.
Food sources: Pork, liver, legumes, nuts, whole grain or enriched breads and cereals.
Day's supply in: 1 broiled pork chop (0.66 mg) PLUS 1.25 cups corn flakes (0.36 mg) OR 1 baked potato with skin (0.24 mg) PLUS ½ cup lentils (0.17 mg) PLUS 1 cup raisin bran (0.60 mg)
Watch out: Deficiency is becoming more common among the homeless and malnourished people, and can result in edema and heart arrhythmias.
Riboflavin (B2)
Good to know: Also called vitamin B2.
Recommendations: Men ages 14-70+, 1.3 milligrams/day

Women ages 14-18, 1.0 milligrams/day

Women ages 19-70+, 1.1 milligrams/day

Ages 71+, 15 micrograms/day (equivalent to about 600 IU)

Benefits: Contributes to energy production.
Food sources: Lean meats, yogurt, milk, cheese, egg, broccoli, whole grain or enriched breads and cereals.
Day's supply in: 1 cup raisin bran cereal (0.7 mg) PLUS 1 cup milk (0.34 mg) PLUS 1 egg (0.25 mg) OR one small extra-lean hamburger (0.36 mg) PLUS 1 cup plain yogurt (0.49 mg) PLUS ½ cup fresh cooked spinach (0.21) PLUS 1 cup cottage cheese (0.36 mg)
Watch out: Light can destroy riboflavin, so purchase milk in opaque containers.
Niacin (B3)
Good to know: Also called nicotinic acid, nicotinamide, vitamin B3. The human body can make niacin from the amino acid tryptophan, so any food high in tryptophan, such as turkey, will contribute to niacin intake.
Recommendations: Men ages 14-70+, 16 milligrams NE/day

Women ages 14-70+, 14 milligrams NE/day

(NE=niacin equivalent)

Benefits: Contributes to energy production. Important for health of skin, digestive tract and nervous system.
Food sources: Protein-rich foods, including milk, eggs, meat, poultry, fish, nuts and enriched cereals and grain products.
Day's supply in: One small extra-lean hamburger (6.63 mg) PLUS ½ cup Grape Nuts cereal (9.98 mg) OR 1 cup rice (2 mg) PLUS 4 ounces broiled salmon (7.5 mg) PLUS 1 tablespoon peanut butter (4.22 mg) PLUS 1 bagel (3.1 mg)
Watch out: In high doses, nicotinic acid can cause dilation of blood vessels and a potentially painful tingling called a "niacin flush." High doses of niacin can cause diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. In the long-term, liver damage may result.
Biotin
Good to know: Because biotin is contained in many foods and requirements are so small, virtually no one needs to worry about deficiency.
Recommendations: Ages 14-18, 25 micrograms/day

Ages 19-70+, 30 micrograms/day

Benefits: Contributes to energy production and metabolism of proteins, fats and carbohydrates.
Food sources: Found in many foods, especially liver, egg yolks and cereal.
Day's supply in: Any combination of healthy foods.
Watch out: Although deficiency is rare, it can be caused by eating high quantities of raw egg whites, which bind biotin and make it unavailable to the body.
Pantothenic Acid
Good to know: Deficiencies are rare among people with a healthy diet.
Recommendations: Ages 14-70+, 5 milligrams/day
Benefits: Contributes to energy production
Food sources: Found in many foods, especially meat, poultry, fish, egg yolk, legumes and cereals.
Day's supply in: Any combination of healthy foods.
Watch out: No Warnings
 
Vitamin B6
Good to know: Also called pyridoxine.
Recommendations: Men ages 14-50, 1.3 milligrams/day

Men ages 51-70+, 1.7 milligrams/day

Women ages 14-18, 1.2 milligrams/day

Women ages 19-50, 1.3 milligrams/day

Women ages 51-70+, 1.5 milligrams/day

Benefits: Helps the body make red blood cells, converts tryptophan to niacin, and contributes to immunity and nervous system function. Used in metabolism of proteins and fats.
Food sources: Meats, fish, poultry, legumes, leafy green vegetables, potatoes, bananas, fortified cereals.
Day's supply in: 1 chicken breast (1.0 mg) PLUS ½ cup cooked spinach (0.22 mg) PLUS 1 cup brown rice (0.28 mg), OR 1 baked potato with skin (0.69 mg) PLUS 1 banana (0.66) PLUS 4 ounces lean sirloin (0.51 mg)
Watch out: High-dose vitamin B6 supplements have been recommended to help PMS, carpal tunnel syndrome and sleep disorders. However, taking very high doses for months or years can cause permanent nerve damage. Recommended upper limit is 100 milligrams per day for adults.
 
Folate
Good to know: Also called folic acid or folacin.
Recommendations: Ages 14-70+, 400 micrograms/day
Benefits: Critical for all cell functions, since folate helps make DNA and RNA. May protect against heart disease by lowering homocysteine levels. In pregnant women, lowers risk of neural tube defects in the baby.
Food sources: Leafy green vegetables, especially spinach and turnip greens, legumes, broccoli, asparagus, oranges and fortified cereals.
Day's supply in: 6 asparagus spears (131 mcg) PLUS 1 cup orange juice from concentrate (109 mcg) PLUS ½ cup lentils (178 mcg) PLUS 2 slices whole wheat bread (28 mcg) OR 1 cup Total cereal (465 mcg)
Watch out: To prevent spina bifida and other neural tube disorders in their babies, all pregnant women-and women who have the potential to become pregnant-should be on folate supplements. For all adults, too little folate can result in anemia.
 
Vitamin B12
Good to know: Also called cobalamin.

Although vitamin B12 injections have been rumored to increase energy, there's no scientific evidence that this is true.

Recommendations: Ages 14-70+, 2.4 micrograms/day
Benefits: Important for proper nerve function. Works with folate, converting it to an active form. Helps make red blood cells, and helps metabolize proteins and fats.
Food sources: Only found in animal foods, such as meats, fish, poultry, milk, cheese and eggs; or in fortified cereals.
Day's supply in: 1 chicken breast (0.6 mcg) PLUS 1 hard-boiled egg (0.55 mcg) PLUS 1 cup plain low-fat yogurt (1.37 mcg) OR 1 cup milk (0.92 mcg) PLUS 1 cup raisin bran (1.64 mcg)
Watch out: Vegetarians, especially vegans who eat no animal foods, need to look for fortified sources, such as fortified soy milk, or supplements of vitamin B12. The elderly often have difficulty absorbing vitamin B12, and can easily develop deficiencies. Deficiency may result in anemia, nerve damage, and hypersensitive skin.
 
Vitamin C
Good to know: Also called ascorbic acid. Cigarette smoke depletes vitamin C, so smokers need 100 milligrams per day.
Recommendations: Ages 15-51+, 60 milligrams/day
Benefits: Important for immune function. Acts as an antioxidant to keep the body healthy. Strengthens blood vessels and capillary walls, makes collagen and connective tissue that hold muscles and bones together, helps form scar tissue, keeps gums healthy, and helps the body absorb iron from foods.
Food sources: Many fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, dark green vegetables, strawberries, papaya, cantaloupe, peppers, broccoli, potatoes and tomatoes.
Day's supply in: 1 cup grapefruit juice (72 mg) OR 1 kiwi fruit (74 mg) OR 1 cup chopped broccoli (116 mg) OR 1 baked potato with skin (26 mg) PLUS 1 cup tomato juice (45 mg)
Watch out: Very high doses of vitamin C supplements (over 1000 milligrams) can cause diarrhea and may cause kidney stones.



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