Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What is the difference between a vitamin and a mineral?

Vitamins are organic compounds.  They are found in small amounts in plants and animals.  Your body cannot make vitamins at a high enough level to maintain good health so we need to get additional amounts from foods.

Minerals are inorganic compounds that originate in the earth, such as soil and rocks. Our bodies cannot make minerals.  All minerals will come from the food we eat.  We need to consume a range of vitamins and minerals to keep our bodies functioning correctly.

2. What does essential vs nonessential mean?

Essential nutrients are those required for the body to function properly, however the body cannot naturally produce.  You will get these from your food and supplementation.  Non essential nutrients are those that the body creates naturally.

3. What is the difference between fat soluble vs water soluble vitamins?

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's liver, fatty tissue, and muscles.  The four fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins are absorbed more easily by the body in the presence of dietary fat.

Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body.  The nine water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and all the B vitamins.  Any leftover or excess amounts of these water-soluble vitamins leave the body through the urine.  They have to be consumed on a regular basis to prevent shortages or deficiencies in the body.  The exception to this is vitamin B12, which can be stored in the liver for many years.

4. Can you overdose on vitamins and minerals?

Excess amounts of water soluble vitamins get eliminated through the urine however, until you can eliminate the excess, you can have side effects.  For example, having too much Vitamin C or Magnesium may cause diarrhea.

You have to be more careful with fat-soluble vitamins and Vitamin B12 as these do get stored in the body and can build up in excess.

5. What is B-Complex?

B-Complex is a combination of eight B vitamins combined into one supplement.  B-Complex includes B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12.  This form is convenient however you need to compare different brands as the dosages may differ for the individual B vitamins.

6. What are Vitamins and Minerals good for?

See Vitamins and Minerals Tables below.

7. What foods should you eat to get vitamins and minerals?

See Vitamins and Minerals Tables below.


Vitamins Benefits/Supports Foods
Vit A Supports vision, skin and other tissue, teeth, bones and immune system. Sources of retinoids: beef and chicken liver, eggs, shrimp, yogurt, fortified milk, butter, cheddar and swiss cheese
Vit C Vitamin C may help make collagen and serotonin.  Acts as an antioxidant and helps teeth, gums, wound healing and the immune system.  May lower the risk for some cancers, including those of the mouth, esophagus, stomach, and breast. Fruits and fruit juices (especially citrus), potatoes, broccoli, papaya, cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, kiwi, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, brussel sprouts
Vit D Helps the body absorb and maintain proper levels of calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen bones. Helps form teeth and bones. Fortified milk, margarine, fortified cereals and breads, fatty fish
Vit E An antioxidant that neutralizes molecules that can damage cells.  Helps the body form red blood cells and use Vit K. Protects vitamin A from damage.  Diets rich in vitamin E may help prevent Alzheimer's disease. vegetable oils, salad dressing, margarines made with vegetable oil, whole grains, sweet potates, almonds and hazelnuts, sunflower seeds, asparagus, blue berries, leafy green vegetables
Vit K Activates proteins and calcium for blood clotting. May contribute to bone health Cabbage, vegetable oils, soy beans, liver, eggs, milk, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, watercress, brussel sprouts, kale
Vit B1 Helps convert carbohydrates into energy.  Needed for healthy skin, hair, and muscle, heart, brain and nerve function. Pork chops, brown rice, ham, soy milk, sunflower seeds, oatmeal, brazil nuts, white rice, baked potato, watermelon, acorn squash
Vit B2 Helps convert food into energy.  Works with other B vitamins. Needed for healthy skin, hair, blood, body growth and brain. Beef liver, milk, eggs, yogurt, cheese, meats, green leafy vegetables, whole and enriched grains and cereals
Vit B3 Helps convert food into energy.  Has Cholesterol-lowering effects at higher doses.  Essential for healthy skin, blood cells, brain, and nervous system. Poultry, fish, fortified and whole grains, white rice, sweet corn, peas, mushrooms, potatoes, peanut butter
Vit B5 Helps convert food into energy. Helps make hormones, cholesterol and hemoglobin. Chicken, organ meats, egg yolk, whole grains, legumes, yogurt, broccoli, mushrooms, avocados, tomato products
Vit B6 Helps lower homocysteine levels and the risk of heart disease.  Helps make red blood cells, maintains brain and immune functions and helps convert tryptophan to niacin and serotonin. Meat, fish, poultry, legumes, tofu, soy products, potatoes, banana, chickpeas, prune juice, avocado, peppers, non-citrus fruit
Vit B7 Helps metabolize proteins and carbohydrates into energy, synthesize glucose, produce hormones and cholesterol.  Needed for healthy bones and hair. Whole grains, organ meats, egg yolks, yeast, corn, soybeans, cauliflower, peanut butter, mushrooms, fish
Vit B9 Helps grow cells and tissue including red blood cells.  Supports liver, kidney, bone, heart, brain and mood function.  Helps the body use protein.  Supports DNA production including fetal development. Dark green leafy vegetables, citrus fruit and juices, legumes (beans and peas), nuts, seeds, corn, broccoli, avocado, beets, squash, cauliflower, celery, asparagus, carrots, brussel sprouts, enriched breads, cereals, pasta, rice.
Vit B12 Helps lower homocysteine levels and may lower the risk of heart disease.  Helps make new cells and breaking down some fatty acids and amino acids.  Maintains central nervous system and encourages normal growth.  Helps make red blood cells and DNA. Meat, poultry, fish, clams, chicken liver, lamb, yogurt, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified cereal, fortified soy milk
Choline Helps in normal functioning of the brain and nervous system.  Plays a role in metabolizing and transporting fats. Milk, eggs, liver, salmon, peanuts


Minerals Benefits/Supports Foods
Calcium Builds and protects bones and teeth. Helps in the formation and maintenance of bone. Helps with muscle movement, blood clotting, and nerve messaging between the body and the brain. Helps release hormones and enzymes that help overall body function. Helps maintain healthy blood pressure Yogurt, cheese, milk, tofu, seeds, almonds, sardines, salmon, beans, lentils, fortified juices, leafy greens except spinach or swiss chard, broccoli, whey protein, rhubarb, figs
Chloride Helps move nutrients into the cells and removes waste as it exits the cell. Balances fluids in the body and helps regulate the pH. A component of stomach acid, essential to digestion. Salt, soy sauce, lettuce, celery, olives, seaweed, rye, processed foods
Chromium Controls blood sugar and enhances the activity of insulin. Helps burn carbohydrates and fat. Grass fed beef, poultry, fish, eggs, broccoli, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, green beans, whole grains, prunes, oats, grape juice, some cereals, nuts, cheese, mussels, brewers yeast
Copper Helps make red blood cells, maintain healthy bones, blood vessels, nerves, and immune function, and it contributes to iron absorption. Liver, shellfish, mushrooms, nuts, seeds, whole grains, legumes, beans, sweet potatoes, prunes, cocoa, dark chocolate, black pepper
Fluoride Encourages strong bone formation. Keeps dental cavities from starting or worsening. Pork, fatty fish, shellfish, fatty cheese, grapes, raisans, potatoes, water that is fluoridated toothpaste with fluoride, black tea
Iodine Helps metabolism and thyroid function which helps set body temperature. Helps brain, nerve and muscle function, reproduction, and growth. Helps protect the body from toxins. Eggs, prunes, yogurt, shrimp, seaweed, potatoes, milk, cheese, Iodized salt, processed foods
Iron Helps hemoglobin in red blood cells and myoglobin in muscle cells transport oxygen throughout the body. Needed for chemical reactions in the body and for making amino acids, collagen, neurotransmitters, and hormones. Red meat, liver, lamb, pork, poultry, eggs, dried fruits, green vegetables, brown rice, soy beans, lima beans, fortified bread and grain products, shrimp, clams, scallops, tuna, sardines, coconut
Magnesium Needed to maintain healthy muscles including the heart. Works with calcium in muscle contraction, blood clotting, and regulation of blood pressure. Helps build bones and teeth. Green vegetables such as spinach, cabbage and broccoli, bananas, avocado, chickpeas, legumes, peas, kidney beans, almonds, brown and wild rice, cashews, sunflower and other seeds, quinoa, tofu, halibut, whole wheat bread, milk, raspberries
Manganese Helps bones and connective tissue. Helps maintain muscles, metabolize amino acids, cholesterol and carbohydrates. Helps blood sugar regulation. Antioxidant to reduce inflammation. Fish, mussels, hazel nuts, brown rice, chickpeas, legumes, pineapple, whole grains, coffee, tea
Phosphorus Helps build and protect bones and teeth. Helps convert food into energy and manages use and storage. Removes waste from kidneys. Helps muscles contract and recover after exercise. Promotes nerve conduction. Helps make RNA and DNA. Beans, lentils, dairy products, meat, fish, poultry, organ meats, eggs, liver, green peas, broccoli, potatoes, seeds, almonds
Potassium Balances ph fluid levels. Helps maintain steady heartbeat and send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions and may prevent cramps. May stabilize blood sugar. Helps lower blood pressure and may benefit bones. Meat, milk, fruits, vegetables, grains, legumes, salmon, baked potato, tomato juice, orange juice, cantaloupe, water chestnuts, avocados, bananas, potatoes, kidney beans, yogurt
Selenium Acts as an antioxidant to reduce inflammation and neutralize unstable molecules that can damage cells. Help boost immunity. Helps regulate thyroid hormone activity. Organ meats, seafood, brazil nuts, walnuts, grain products, brown rice, eggs, cheese, mushrooms, pasta, tuna
Sodium Balances fluids in the body. Prevents water loss. Helps send nerve impulses. Needed for muscle contractions. Impacts blood pressure; even modest reductions in salt consumption can lower blood pressure. Salt, soy sauce, processed food, vegetables, shrimp, canned soup, ham, olives, salami and other cold cuts, beef jerky, beet greens, bananas, cantaloupe, avocados, oranges, tomatoes
Zinc Helps form many enzymes and proteins and create new cells. Helps immune system, taste, smell, and wound healing. May help balance hormones. Red meat, lamb, poultry, turkey, oysters and some other seafood, fortified cereals beans, nuts, seeds, dark chocolate, legumes, spinach, kidney beans

8. How accurate are the doses in the Vitamins and Minerals tables?

The doses in both the Vitamins and Minerals tables are the Recommended Daily Allowances.  These numbers were last established in 1989 with some updates by the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI).  These are the most recent dietary guidelines by the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, National Academy of Sciences, 1997-2001, in a collaboration between the US and Canada. The RDA/DRI doses are for healthy individuals and therefore tend to be conservative.

The doses in the Conditions column are recommended daily doses specific for those conditions.  These doses were identified by various sources and are completely independent from the RDA/DRI.  It is recommended that you seek professional advice prior to starting any supplement program especially if you are already taking other medications.  Supplements will interact with other medications.

9. Why are some doses measured in iu, mg, mcg?

iu stands for International units and is a unit commonly used in the measurement of medications, vaccines and vitamins.  The volume or mass that makes up one International unit is dependent on the concentration or potency of the substance and therefore varies from substance to substance depending on what is being measured.

This means that converting between international units and micrograms or milligrams is not a simple calculation and we can't provide a converter to do this calculation for you.

If you want to find out how many micrograms (mcg) or milligrams (mg) are in one IU of your medication, you could contact your pharmacist to find out.  As an alternative, you could try contacting the drug manufacturer directly.

10. Why is Vitamin A measured in RAE (Retinol Activity Equivalents)?

RAE (Retinol Activty Equivalents) is used for Vitamin A and is a newer unit of measurement than IU or RE (Retinol Equivalents).  Retinol is often referred to as Preformed vitamin A which is used directly by the body.  There are five Provitamin A Carotenoids, (most common is Beta-carotene) that are less efficient because the body must convert this to Retinol before use.  RAE is a unit of measure used to compare the differnt forms of vitamin A.  Historically, vitamin A was measured in IU's, then was changed to RE and then most recently changed to RAE.  Depending on the source, you will see Vitamin A units in mcg, iu, RE or REA.

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