Vitamins and Minerals: How to Get What You Need

What are micronutrients?

Micronutrients are the vitamins and minerals found in food that nourish your body and help keep you healthy. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), adult Americans do not typically get enough of the following nutrients:

  •  Calcium
  • Potassium
  • Fiber
  • Magnesium
  • Vitamins A, C and E

Try to incorporate more of these nutrients in your daily diet. Keep in mind that it’s best to consume a variety of foods, instead of just taking a multivitamin, to make sure that your body is able to absorb the micronutrients properly. If you are unable to get all the nutrients you need from food alone, ask your doctor if dietary supplements are right for you.


Your body needs calcium to build strong bones and teeth in childhood and adolescence. As an adult, you need calcium to maintain bone mass. According to the USDA, the average American adult (eating roughly 2,000 calories per day) should get 1,136 milligrams of calcium each day.

The following foods are good sources of calcium:

  • Nonfat or low-fat yogurt (8 ounces = 345-452 milligrams)
  • Nonfat or low-fat cheese (2 ounces = 400 milligrams)
  • Low-fat milk (1 cup = 290 milligrams) or skim milk (1 cup = 306 milligrams)
  • Fish and seafood such as sardines (3 ounces = 325 milligrams), pink salmon (3 ounces = 181 milligrams) and ocean perch (3 ounces = 116 milligrams)
  • Beans such as soybeans (1/2 cup = 130 milligrams) and white beans (1/2 cup = 96 milligrams
  • Spinach (1/2 cup = 146 milligrams)
  • Oatmeal (1 packet = 99-110 milligrams

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