Dietary reference intakes for women: Vitamins
Function / effects
Daily dose (RDA/AI)+
Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL)+
Some food sources
|Vitamin A (Retinoids — retinol, retinoic acid — are active forms. Beta carotene is converted to vitamin A in the body.)||Required for vision, tissue and skin health, and immune function. Beta carotene and other carotenoids available in fruits and vegetables may help lower cataract and lung cancer risk.||RDA: 700 mcg (2,333 IU), age 19 and over; 770 mcg (2,566 IU) during pregnancy; 1,300 mcg (4,333 IU) during lactation.||3,000 mcg/day (10,000 IU)||Retinoids: beef, liver, eggs, shrimp, fish, fortified milk, and some cheeses. Beta carotene: sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, spinach, mangoes, and turnip greens.|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamin)||Helps convert food into energy; needed for healthy skin, hair, muscles, and brain.||RDA: 1.1 mg, age 19 and over; 1.4 mg during pregnancy and lactation.||†||Enriched, fortified, or whole-grain products; breads; grains; cereals; pork; organ meats; legumes; nuts; and seeds.|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||Helps convert food into energy; regulates hormones; needed for healthy skin, hair, blood, and brain.||RDA: 1.1 mg, age 19 and over; 1.4 mg during pregnancy; 1.6 mg during lactation.||†||Organ meats, milk products, and whole grains and fortified foods.|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin, nicotinic acid)||Helps convert food into energy; helps maintain skin, blood cells, brain, and nervous system.||RDA: 14 mg, age 19 and over; 18 mg during pregnancy; 17 mg during lactation.||35 mg/day *||Meat, fish, poultry, enriched and whole gains, and fortified cereals.|
|Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)||Helps convert food into energy; aids in production of lipids, neuro-transmitters, and hemoglobin.||AI: 5 mg, age 19 and over; 6 mg during pregnancy; 7 mg during lactation.||†||Many foods, including chicken, beef, oats, cereals, tomato products, liver, kidney, yeast, egg yolks, broccoli, and whole grains.|
|Vitamin B6 (pyridoxal, pyridoxine, pyridoxamine)||Helps convert food into energy; aids in production of lipids, neuro-transmitters, and hemoglobin.||AI: 5 mg, age 19 and over; 6 mg during pregnancy; 7 mg during lactation.||†||Many foods, including chicken, beef, oats, cereals, tomato products, liver, kidney, yeast, egg yolks, broccoli, and whole grains.|
|Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)||Aids in making new cells; protects nerve cells; prevents pernicious anemia; helps lower homocysteine levels.||RDA: 2.4 mcg, age 19 and over; 2.6 mcg during pregnancy; 2.8 mcg during lactation.||†||Fortified cereals, meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, and eggs.|
|Biotin||Helps to convert food into energy, break down fats, and keep bones and hair healthy.||AI: 30 mcg, age 19 and over and during pregnancy; 35 mcg during lactation.||†||† Organ meats, whole grains, egg yolks, soybeans, and fish.|
|Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)||An antioxidant that protects cells, promotes iron absorption, and aids in neuro-transmitter and collagen production.||RDA: 75 mg, age 19 and over; 85 mg during pregnancy; 120 mg during lactation. (Smokers need an additional 35 mg/day.)||2,000 mg/day||Citrus fruits, tomatoes, potatoes, broccoli, strawberries, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and spinach.|
|Choline||Aids in brain and nerve activities; helps metabolize and transport fats.||AI: 425 mg, age 19 and over; 450 mg during pregnancy; 550 mg during lactation.||3,500 mg/day||Liver, milk, eggs, and peanuts.|
|Vitamin D (calciferol)||Helps regulate calcium and phosphorus concentrations in the blood; helps form teeth and bones.||AI: 5 mcg, age 19–50, during pregnancy, and during lactation; 10 mcg, age 51–70; 15 mcg, age 71 and over.||50 mcg (2,000 IU)||Fatty fish, fish liver oils, fortified cereals, and fortified milk or margarine.|
|Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol)||An antioxidant that protects cells.||RDA: 15 mg (22 IU from natural sources; 33 IU from synthetic sources of vitamin E), age 19 and over and during pregnancy; 19 mg during lactation.||1,000 mg/day (1,500 IU from natural vitamin E; 2,200 IU from synthetic)||Vegetable oils, whole grains, nuts, fruits, wheat germ, and leafy green vegetables.|
|Folic acid (folate, folacin)||Required for new cell creation; helps prevent brain and spine defects in the fetus; helps lower homocysteine levels; offsets breast cancer risk in women who consume alcohol.||RDA: 400 mcg, age 19 and over; 600 mcg during pregnancy; 500 mcg during lactation.||1,000 mcg *||Fortified grains and cereals, asparagus, spinach, turnip greens, orange juice, tomato juice, black-eyed peas, and chickpeas.|
|Vitamin K (phylloquinone, menadione)||Aids in blood clotting and bone metabolism.||AI: 90 mcg, age 19 and over, and during pregnancy and lactation.||†||Deep green vegetables, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, milk, eggs, and margarine.|
|+ Recommended Dietary
Allowance (RDA), Adequate Intake (AI), and Tolerable Upper Intake
Level (UL) are designations and intake levels developed by the National
Academy of Sciences Food and Nutrition Board.
† Not determined due to lack of data. Source should be food only, to prevent high levels of intake.
* Applies only to synthetic forms obtained from supplements and/or fortified foods.
Sources: Adapted from Dietary Reference Intakes: Vitamins, available as a PDF at www.iom.edu/iom/iomhome.nsf/pages/Fnb+Dri?OpenDocument and The Benefits and Risks of Vitamins and Minerals: A Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School, Harvard Health Publications, 2003.