The level of vitamins and minerals an individual needs on a daily basis depends to a large degree on his body, lifestyle, gender and age. For instance, individuals who are older need to take in larger amounts of the minerals calcium and magnesium to maintain good health. People who rarely go outside in the sunshine may have vitamin D issues to address if their diet is lacking in vitamin D. Understanding the role of specific vitamins and minerals in maintaining good health will help you determine what levels are appropriate. However, the amount of supplemental vitamin D, magnesium and calcium you need can vary, and a doctor can recommend a personalized dose. Don't give vitamin or mineral supplements to children without first consulting a doctor.
Vitamin D is an essential vitamin needed to facilitate calcium absorption, cell growth, and the neuromuscular and immune processes. It is also effective in controlling inflammation. There is some disagreement among researchers and medical professionals as to what levels are appropriate. Some researchers say that adults should take in at least 2,000 international units, or IU, daily; children, half that amount; and pregnant women and senior citizens, more. Other researchers, including the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine, recommend 400 IU for infants up to 1 year and 600 IU per day until age 70. After 70, the IOM recommends increasing intake to 800 IU daily.
Calcium is associated with strong bones and teeth, and it also plays a role in the functioning systems in the body, such as the vascular system, nervous system, endocrine system, muscular system and cardiovascular system. The recommended dietary allowance for calcium is based upon age and gender. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 should take in approximately 700 milligrams; ages 4 to 8 -- 1,000 milligrams; and ages 9 to 18 -- 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily. After age 18, the recommended level drops to 1,000 milligrams for both males and females until the age of 51. At age 51, women should take in approximately 1,200 milligrams of calcium, and by the age of 71, a man's recommended daily level increases to 1,200 milligrams.
Magnesium plays a vital role in the proper functioning of the muscular, cardiovascular and nervous system. It is also important in supporting a strong immune system. The recommended daily intake of magnesium for infants up to age 3 is 40 to 80 milligrams; ages 4 to 6, 120 milligrams; ages 7 to 10, 170 milligrams; adolescent and adult males 270 to 400 milligrams; adolescent and adult females, 280 to 320 milligrams.
Sources of Vitamin D, Calcium and Magnesium
High levels of magnesium can be found in some fish, almonds, soybeans and spinach, while beans, rice, raisins and chocolate provide smaller levels of magnesium. Vitamin D-rich foods include a variety of fish, liver, eggs and cheese. Yogurt, milk, sardines, spinach, mozzarella cheese and a variety of green leafy vegetables can also help you meet the RDA for calcium. Though consuming a diet rich in vitamins and minerals is best, you can also take supplements to ensure you're getting the essentials.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Vitamin D
- "U.S. News & World Report"; On Women: How Much Vitamin D Should You Be Taking?; Deborah Kotz; August 2009
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Dietary Supplement Fact Sheet: Calcium
- Linus Pauling Institute: Magnesium
- Health Science: Are You Getting Enough Vitamin D?