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The Definitive Guide to Vitamins and Minerals

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The Definitive Guide to Vitamins and Minerals

We always hear about the importance of vitamins and minerals, but what does our body really need, and why?

 

The physiological roles and importance of vitamins and minerals is unknown to many.

Guys will rush to GNC to buy the latest super-advanced, muscle-maximizing pills and powders containing proprietary blends of fancy-sounding junk ingredients, but few of them will invest money in healthier foods or a multivitamin.

The recent popularity of the “If It Fits Your Macros” diet has made “eating junk and getting shredded” popular, with many advocates completely neglecting the NUTRITION side of dieting.

Well, the fact is that your body needs a wide variety of vitamins and minerals to perform the millions of physiological processes that keep you alive and well. This is a basic need, like protein, carbohydrates, fats, and water, and if it’s neglected, health and performance can be severely compromised.

In this article, I want to discuss what vitamins and minerals are, which are most important for your body and why, and how to ensure you’re giving your body what it needs.

So, let’s start with a simple definition of terms.

What Are Vitamins and Minerals, Exactly?

Vitamins are substances that living organisms need for their cells to function, grow, and develop correctly. Organisms can’t produce vitamins, and thus must obtain them from their diets or other sources such as the sun, or bacteria in the gut.

Certain vitamins are water-soluble, which means they dissolve easily in water, and are easily excreted through the urine (which is what the body does with excesses). There are 9 water-soluble vitamins: 8 B vitamins, and vitamin C.

Other vitamins are fat-soluble, which means they require dietary fats for absorption. Fat-soluble vitamins aren’t as easily eliminated in the body, and over-consumption (which is hard to do without supplementation) can lead to “vitamin poisoning,” or “hypervitaminosis,” as it’s known medically. There are 4 types of fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and K.

Minerals are substances that contain no carbon (whereas vitamins do), and which form naturally in the Earth. Your body needs minerals for many different physiological functions, including building bones, making hormones, and regulating your heartbeat.

Examples of minerals your body needs are calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. These are known as “macrominerals,” because your body needs relatively large amounts to function properly.

“Trace minerals,” on the other hand, are types of minerals that your body only needs small amounts of: iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.

The Vitamins and Minerals Your Body Needs, and Why

Let’s now look at the most important vitamins and minerals for your body.

First, a quick explanation of acronyms:

RDA stands for Recommended Dietary Allowances, and this refers to the average daily intake required for good health. RDAs are established when scientific bodies such as the Institute of Medicine feel there is enough scientific data to make such prescriptions.

AI stands for adequate intake level, and this refers to a general recommendation on intake, and is used in the place of an RDA where none exists (usually due to a lack of scientific data).

UL stands for tolerable upper intake level, and this refers to the upper limit of daily intake generally considered safe for the average person. Keeping intake at or below UL dosages will prevent “overdosing” any vitamins or minerals, which can cause various health issues.

Before we talk specifics, you should also understand how vitamins and minerals are measured.

Larger doses are measured in milligrams (mg). A milligram is tiny: it’s 1/1000th of a gram, which is 1/1000 of a kilogram (2.2 pounds).

Smaller doses are measured in micrograms (mcg). A microgram is even tinier: it’s 1/1000th of a milligram.

Some vitamins, like vitamins D and A, are measured in IUs, or international units, a measurement that varies based on the substance and its effects in the body.

Alright, with all that out of way, let’s now take a look at the key vitamins and minerals (in no particular order). The “needs” dosages below are based on RDA and AI numbers established by the Institute of Medicine, and are for adults aged 18 and over.

Zinc

Zinc is a trace element used in the creation of enzymes, proteins, and cells. It is also used to release vitamin A from the liver, and it boosts the immune system.

How Much Zinc Your Body Needs

Men: 11 mg per day

Women: 8 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of Zinc

Beef (2 mg per ounce), oysters (13 mg per oyster), milk (2 mg per cup), turkey (1.5 mg per ounce), and cashews (1.5 mg per ounce).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Zinc

40 mg per day

Biotin (Vitamin B7 or Vitamin H)

Like its other B vitamin brethren, biotin plays an important role in the growth of cells and the metabolism of food (the process whereby the body breaks the food we eat down into usable energy).

How Much BiotinYour Body Needs

30 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of Biotin

Salmon (4-5 mcg per 3 ounces), whole grains (0.025-5 mcg per slice of bread), eggs (15-25 mcg per large egg), or avocados (2-5 mcg per avocado).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Biotin

Not determined

Calcium

Calcium is a macromineral involved in the development of bones and teeth, and also in muscle function, nerve communication, hormone production, muscle function, and blood pressure.

How Much Calcium Your Body Needs

1,000 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of Calcium

Dairy (milk and yogurt both provide about 300 mg per cup, and cheddar cheese about 300 mg per 1.5 ounces), bok choy (80 mg per ½ cup), tofu (260 mg per ½ cup), rhubarb (175 mg per ½ cup), and spinach (115 mg per ½ cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Calcium

2,500 mg per day

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is  an antioxidant that prevents cellular damage and help keep free radicals under control.

How Much Vitamin E Your Body Needs

15 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of Vitamin E

Almonds (7.5 mg per ounce), olive oil (2 mg per tablespoon), avocados (3 mg per avocado), canola oil (2.5 mg per tablespoon), and hazelnuts (4 mg per ounce).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin E

1,000 mg per day

Potassium

Potassium is a macromineral that is helps nerves and muscles communicate, and helps move fluids and nutrients into and waste products out of cells.

How Much Potassium Your Body Needs

4,700 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of Potassium

Bananas (over 400 mg per medium banana), artichokes (340 mg per medium artichoke), plums (640 mg per ½ cup), baked potatoes (930 mg per medium potato), and raisins (600 mg per ½ cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Potassium

Not determined

Sodium

Sodium, which is part of sodium chloride, or table salt, is a macromineral essential for maintaining cellular fluid balance, nerve signaling, contracting the muscles, digestion of food, regulating blood pressure, and more.

Average sodium intake here in the United States is too high, due to regular consumption of foods like…

  • Canned and pre-packaged foods (salt is used as a preservative)
  • Deli meat (full of sodium)
  • Sauces and salad dressings, many of which are high in sodium
  • Cheese, which is often quite high in sodium.

An easy way to reduce sodium intake is to simply cut back on these types of foods.

How Much Sodium Your Body Needs

1,500 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of Sodium

The best way to get sodium in your diet is to lightly salt your food, as only 2/3 of a teaspoon contains all you need

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Sodium

2,300 mg per day

Phosphorus

Phosphorus is a macromineral that is used to build and protect bones and DNA, and is also involved in the metabolism of food and the transport of nutrients to organs.

How Much Phosphorus Your Body Needs

700 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of Phosphorus

Dairy (milk contains 250 mg per cup, yogurt 400 mg per cup, and cheese over 130 mg per ounce), salmon (80 mg per ounce), eggs (100 mg per large egg), and chicken (50 mg per ounce).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Phosphorus

4,000 mg per day

Vitamin K

Although the chemical symbol for potassium is K, vitamin K isn’t the same.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin essential for wound healing and bone development. The “K” actually stands for koagulation, the German word for coagulation, or clotting.

How Much Vitamin K Your Body Needs

Men: 120 mcg per day

Women: 90 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of Vitamin K

Broccoli (220 mcg per cup), kale (550 mcg per cup), parsley (250 mcg per ¼ cup), and Swiss chard (300 mcg per cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin K

Not determined

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin vital for general immunity, nervous system function, and bone density.

As you may know, our body can’t produce vitamin D without sun exposure. When our skin is exposed to the sun’s UVB rays, they interact with a form of cholesterol in the body to produce vitamin D. The more skin that is exposed to the sun, and the stronger its rays, the more vitamin D you produce.

How Much Vitamin D Your Body Needs

According to the Institute of Medicine, 600 IU per day is adequate for ages 1-70 (and 800 IU per day for 71+), but these numbers have been severely criticized by scientists that specialized in vitamin D research. They call attention to the over 125 peer-reviewed studies that indicate such recommendations are too low, and are likely to lead to vitamin D deficiencies.

A committee of the U.S. Endocrine Society recently convened to review the evidence, and concluded that 600-1,000 IU per day is adequate for ages 1-18, and 1,500-2,000 IU per day is adequate for ages 19+.

Good Dietary Sources of Vitamin D

It’s tough to get enough vitamin D from food alone, but good sources are salmon (150 IUs per ounce), canned tuna (50 IUs per ounce), and egg yolks (40 IUs per yolk).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin D

Overdosing isn’t likely to occur until intake skyrockets to 40,000 IU per day for several months, or 300,000 IU in a 24-hour period.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps maintain healthy tissues, teeth, and gums; promotes wound healing; and boosts the immune system.

How Much Vitamin C Your Body Needs

Men: 90 mg per day

Women: 75 mg per day

(Smokers should add 35 mg per day)

Good Dietary Sources of Vitamin C

Oranges (50 mg per small orange), grapefruits (80 mg per medium fruit), strawberries (85 mg per cup), tomatoes (15 mg per medium tomato), red peppers (100 mg per ½ cup), and broccoli (50 mg per ½ cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin C

2,000 mg per day

Choline

Choline is a water-soluble B vitamin that is used to build acetylcholine, an essential neurotransmitter used for brain activities, muscle contraction, and food metabolism.

How Much Choline Your Body Needs

Men: 550 mg per day

Women: 425 mg per day

(Smokers should add 35 mg per day)

Good Dietary Sources of  Choline

 Eggs (125 mg per egg), milk (40 mg per cup), broccoli, cauliflower, and Brussels sprouts (all about 60 mg per cup), and beef (20 mg per ounce).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Choline

3,500 mg per day

Chromium

Chromium is a trace mineral that is known to enhance the actions of insulin in the body, and also appears to be involved in the metabolism of food we eat.

How Much Chromium Your Body Needs

Men: 35 mcg per day

Women: 25 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Chromium

Broccoli (20 mcg per cup), potatoes (3 mcg per cup), garlic (3 mcg per teaspoon), and whole-wheat products like English muffins (4 mcg per muffin).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Chromium

Not determined

Iodine

Iodine is a trace mineral that the body needs to create thyroid hormones, which control the body’s metabolism, temperature, muscle function, and overall growth and development.

How Much Iodine Your Body Needs

150 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Iodine

Cod (30 mcg per ounce), shrimp (10 mcg per ounce), canned tuna (15 mcg per half can), milk (60 mcg per cup), baked potatoes (60 mcg per medium potato), and seaweed (over 18,000 mcg per ounce–yes, you read that right!).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Iodine

1,100 mcg per day

Molybdenum

Molybdenum is a trace mineral involved in various bodily processes, possibly including the production of energy in the cells, development of the nervous system, and processing of waste in the kidneys.

How Much Molybdenum Your Body Needs

45 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Molybdenum

Legumes like black beans (130 mcg per cup), peanuts (40 mcg per cup), and split peas (150 mcg per cup), and nuts like almonds, chestnuts, and  (all about 40 mcg per cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Molybdenum

2,000 mcg per day

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 is involved in over 100 biological processes in the body, mostly related to the metabolism of food and the production of hormones and red blood cells.

How Much Vitamin B6 Your Body Needs

1.3 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Vitamin B6

Salmon (.15 mg per ounce), chicken (.15 mg per ounce), bananas (.4 mg per medium banana), potatoes with the skin (.7 mg per medium potato), hazelnuts (.2 mg per ounce), and cooked spinach (.5 mg per cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin B6

100 mg per day

Iron

Iron is one of the most abundant metals on Earth, and in humans, is a vital part of proteins that transport oxygen, and also essential to cell growth.

How Much Iron Your Body Needs

Men: 8 mg per day

Women: 18 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Iron

Beef (about .8 mg per ounce), oysters (about 1 mg per medium oyster), raisins (.8 mg per small box), potatoes (2 mg per medium potato), cooked lentils (3 mg per half cup), tofu (2 mg per ¼ block), and cashews (2 mg per ounce).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Iron

45 mg per day

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5)

Pantothenic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin, and plays an important role in the metabolism of food and the development of the nervous system, certain hormones, red blood cells, and more.

How Much Pantothenic AcidYour Body Needs

5 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Pantothenic Acid

Chicken (.3 mg per ounce), eggs (.6 mg per large egg), whole grains (.2 mg per slice of whole wheat bread), mushrooms (.5 mg per half cup), sweet potato (0.9 mg per medium potato), avocados (2 mg per whole avocado), and yogurt (1.5 mg per cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Pantothenic Acid

Not determined

Selenium

Selenium is a trace mineral that is involved in maintaining reproductive health, the metabolism of thyroid hormones, the synthesis of DNA, and protecting the body from free radical damage and infection.

How Much Selenium Your Body Needs

55 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Selenium

Brazil nuts (550 mcg per six nuts), shrimp (3 mcg per shrimp), crabmeat (13 mcg per ounce), salmon (13 mcg per ounce), beef (5 mcg per ounce), and pork (10 mcg per ounce).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Selenium

400 mcg per day

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that is important for maintaining good vision, immune and reproductive health, and normal function of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs.

How Much Vitamin A Your Body Needs

Men: 900 mcg per day

Women: 700 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Vitamin A

Kale (440 mcg per ½ cup), eggs (90 mcg per large egg), cod liver oil (1,350 mcg per teaspoon), carrots (540 mcg per ½ cup), sweet potatoes (950 mcg per ½ cup), cantaloupe (470 mcg per ½ a melon), mango (80 mcg per fruit), and butternut squash (570 mcg per ½ cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin A

3,000 mcg per day

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble B vitamin that helps keeps the nervous system and blood cells healthy, is involved in the production of DNA, and in the metabolism of food.

How Much Vitamin B12 Your Body Needs

2.4 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Vitamin B12

Clams (25 mcg per ounce), mussels (7 mcg per ounce), beef (.7 mcg per ounce), salmon (.8 mcg per ounce), eggs (.5 mcg per large egg), and milk (1 mcg per cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Vitamin B12

Not determined

Copper

Copper is a trace mineral used for the creation of red blood cells and cellular energy, as well as for immune and nervous system function.

How Much Copper Your Body Needs

900 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Copper

Oysters (670 mcg per medium oyster), crabmeat (200 mcg per ounce), cashews (630 mcg per ounce), mushrooms (350 mcg per cup), and semisweet chocolate (200 mcg per ounce).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Copper

10,000 mcg per day

Magnesium

Magnesium is a macromineral that, along with calcium, is involved in over 300 biological processes, including muscle contraction, protein synthesis, nerve function, blood clotting, and the regulation of blood pressure and building of healthy bones.

How Much Magnesium Your Body Needs

Men: 400 mg per day

Women: 310 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Magnesium

Oat bran (200 mg per cup), almonds (80 mg per ounce), brown rice (90 mg per cup), spinach (160 mg per cup), and bananas (30 mg per banana).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Magnesium

Not determined

Niacin (Vitamin B3)

Like other water-soluble B vitamins, niacin is essential for the conversion of food into cellular energy. It also helps maintain healthy skin, hair, eyes, and liver and nervous system function.

How Much Niacin Your Body Needs

Men: 16 mg per day

Women: 14 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Niacin

Peanuts (4 mg per ounce), chicken (2 mg per ounce), salmon (3 mg per ounce), and coffee (.5 mg per cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Niacin

35 mg per day

Manganese

Manganese is a trace mineral important for the metabolism of food, as well as the growth of bone.

How Much Manganese Your Body Needs

Men: 2.3 mg per day

Women: 1.8 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Manganese

Pineapples (1.5 mg per cup), pecans (1.3 mg per ounce), oatmeal (1.5 mg per cup), brown rice (2 mg per cup), and green tea (.5-1.5 mg per cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Manganese

11 mg per day

Folic Acid (Folate)

Folic acid is a water-soluble B vitamin that is vital for proper fetal development, and that plays an important role in the creation and proper functioning of cells.

How Much Folic Acid Your Body Needs

400 mcg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Folic Acid

Asparagus (20 mcg per spear), spinach (250 mcg per cup), lentils (350 per cup), white rice (180 mcg per cup), and broccoli (100 mcg per cup).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Folic Acid

1,000 mcg per day

Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)

Riboflavin is a water-soluble B vitamin that helps convert food to energy, and maintain healthy hair, skin, muscles, eyes, as well as a healthy immune system and brain.

How Much Riboflavin Your Body Needs

Men: 1.3 mg per day

Women: 1.1 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Riboflavin

Milk (.3 mg per cup), almonds (.25 mg per ounce), cheddar cheese (.1 mg per ounce), eggs (.3 mg per large egg), almonds (1.5 mg per cup), and salmon (.4 mg per ounce).

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Riboflavin

Not determined

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Thiamin is a water-soluble B vitamin that helps with the metabolism of food, and which also plays a role in nerve signaling and muscle contraction.

How Much Thiamin Your Body Needs

Men: 1.2 mg per day

Women: 1.1 mg per day

Good Dietary Sources of  Thiamin

Milk (.10 mg per cup), lentils (0.4 mg per cup), cantaloupe (0.2 mg per fruit), pecans (.2 mg per ounce), sunflower seeds (.75 mg per cup), and pork (.3 mg per ounce)

Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Thiamin

Not determined

Is a Multivitamin Supplement Worth It?

Ideally, we’d get all of the vitamins and minerals we need from the food we eat, but this is easier said than done.

 

Theoretically, then, a multivitamin is a no-brainer.

If you start looking at the ingredients lists of various multivitamin supplements on the market, though, you’ll quickly notice a couple things:

1. Most multivitamin supplements contain little more than vitamins and minerals, which are often improperly dosed–they’re too high in micronutrients we’re not likely to be deficient in and too low in those we are.

This type of formulation isn’t just inefficient and, in some ways, a waste of money–it can be harmful to your health as super-dosing certain types of ingredients like antioxidants sounds good in marketing pieces but doesn’t necessarily confer health benefits.

2. In the cases where additional ingredients are included, they’re often underwhelming. 

Call me cynical but am I supposed to get excited over a 100 mg proprietary blend of fruit and vegetable powders? A few enzymes that may or may not even do anything? Some amino acids, which serve absolutely no purpose in this context? Substances to “detox” my liver?

3. Many multivitamin supplements contain a long list of ingredients that have no research to back the marketing claims.

The supplement industry loves to misuse science to sell and multivitamins, with their long lists of fancy ingredients, are perfect for pseudo-scientific chicanery.

The sad truth is the majority of multivitamins on the market contain little more than a over- and under-dosed vitamins and minerals and a smattering of underdosed, unproven, or ineffective (and often all three!) ingredients thrown in to pad the ingredients list and make you think you’re getting a lot for your money.

While there have been a couple decent multivitamin supplements over the years and I’ve used and recommended them, they always fell short of what I really wanted to see in terms of ingredients and dosages.

Well, thanks to your support of my supplement line, LEGION, I’m finally able to just make the multivitamin I always wished someone else would make: TRIUMPH.

new-triumph-bottle

When I set out to create TRIUMPH, I wanted to focus on several key benefits particularly important to people living an active lifestyle:

  • Improving physical performance of both resistance and endurance training.
  • Improving overall physical health including heart health, blood flow and pressure, cholesterol profile, insulin sensitivity, and more.
  • Improving mental health including memory, cognition, and overall sense of well-being.
  • Alleviating the physical stress caused by regular, intense exercise, including aches, inflammation, and fatigue.
  • Alleviating mental stress that leads to anxiety, depression, and various impairments of physical health.
  • Enhancing immune function to help prevent disease and dysfunction.
  • Increasing longevity and supporting our health as we age.

We then conducted an extensive scientific review of a wide variety of natural molecules known to meet those targets, and we carefully chose a handful that safely deliver consistent results on all four points given above. The result is the most potent multivitamin on the market built specifically for athletes in which every ingredient is backed by sound clinical research and included at clinically effective dosages.

TRIUMPH’s formulation does a lot more than plug potential holes in your diet: its unique combination of clinically effective ingredients improves general health and overall well-being, enhances physical and mental performance, and protects against disease.

 

What did you think about this guide to vitamins and minerals? Have anything else you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • Laura

    What do you think about the Muscle Pharm vitamin supp?

    • Michael Matthews

      I generally don’t like MP’s products but I haven’t looked at their multi.

  • Gary Kenny

    Mike, I’m currently taking Nature’s Way, Alive Once Daily Men’s. Just reading the label now and some vitamins are hugely over stocked. For example, Thiamin 25mg/ 1,667% (DV), Riboflavin 25mg/ 1,471%, Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine HCI) 40mg/ 2,000%, Pantothenic Acid 40mg/ 400% and the list goes on… Does my body just excrete what I don’t need? Seems odd that companies would overpower their product to that extreme? Great article again by the way!

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s totally fine. Remember that your body doesn’t absorb everything in the vitamin, and excess water-soluble vitamins are just peed out.

  • GregP

    Personally I think those vitamin D numbers are pretty low, I take 5,000 IU a day and my D levels were spot on on my last blood work.

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah, nothing wrong with 5k/day. I could do a whole article on the research done on vit D, but I wanted to keep it simple here.

  • Hudson

    This is better info that BLS!!!! Will this be added to the book?

    • Michael Matthews

      It could be! Not a bad idea!

  • Gabe

    Great article, Mike. Appreciate the thorough breakdown.
    It’s pretty disheartening to see just how unrealistic it would be to get some of these values from food. Not to mention it’s not like every mcg of each vitamin/mineral is absorbed from the food we eat so it seems like a miracle we’re not all fighting numerous deficiencies.
    I’d be interested in learning more of how the body utilizes and stores micro nutrients as well as how potent certain “anti-nutrients” like phytates are given how much grains & legumes get bashed for their phytate/lectin content.

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks Gabe!

      Yeah, that’s the reality, but fortunately we can just focus on eating nutritious foods and supplement with a good multi, and we’re good to go.

      Good point with the vitamin A as well.

  • António Alves

    Hi Mike,

    This is really outstanding. You’ve written a huge amount of articles with tremendous information, but for me this is one of your best if not your best, quite simply because I’ve never seen anything like this in any website. I imagine you had to “collate” a lot of information from other sources to find the purpose of each vitamin/mineral and then the recommended dosage and where it is mostly found in food. That takes a lot of work, but it does seem like you do this not only to help others but you also have a genuine interest in learning more about health in general. This article was really interesting for me, since I’ve always wanted to know what each of these vitamins did. It would serve as a great revision guide for biology students!

    I used this article to compare recommended dosages to those in a multivitamin from a sports-brand, and it pretty much matches out (good news!).

    Thanks, keep up the great work!

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks a lot Antonio! I really appreciate it!

      Yeah it’s fun to learn as well as teach!

  • Ripley Ahlborn

    I’m concerned that I may be getting too much sodium in my diet since I still do eat some of those foods that contain high levels, but I’m not sure how much is really too much. For example, two servings of this particular brand of pumpkin seeds I often snack on contain 1880 mg of sodium (shell-on), which is obviously quite a lot. There’s so much out there on sodium and I’m not always sure what to believe…since you are the most definitive source on nutrition I know, would you mind explaining the effects of too much sodium in the diet and why it’s supposedly so bad?

  • Jason

    Hey Mike, a question about omega-3. I understand that the recommendations on bottles are pretty low. I just bought liquid omg-3 and they say to take 1 tea spoon per day (1750 mg). How much should I take?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah bottle recommendations are always too low. Check out my recommendations here:

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /recommendations/supplement-recommendations/general-health-supplements/nordic-naturals-ultimate-omega/

  • Hector Hernandez

    Great article like always. What’s your take on Animal Pak?

    • Michael Matthews

      Thanks! It’s a good product. But a natural lifter doesn’t need the liver support, which is why it’s quite expensive.

      • Ivo Naves

        Hi Mike

        What`s your take on Universal Nutrition – the group and their Whey? I will need to buy a new 10lbs. Whey Protein, I know from you that Optimum is trustworthy… I don’t wanna buy no flour.

        • I’m not too familiar with the brand beyond the Animal Pak to be honest, which is a good multi. I don’t know if they amino spike or not…

  • Rimas

    Hey Mike,
    Great article, as always. I’m currently supplementing with Garden of Life Vitamin Code as well. Is this enough if my diet is pretty good? Being from the Midwest, I’ve also been supplementing with 2,000IU of Vitamin D and also 1,000mg of fish oil. Is this overkill and a waste of money? Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      That’s great! All looks good but I would up the fish oil actually. You want 2-3 grams of omega 3s per day at least.

    • Rimas

      Ok, cool. Do you have a suggestion for a decent but cheaper alternative to Ultimate Omega by Nordic Naturals? Though it seems the quality stuff is more expensive in general..

      • Michael Matthews

        Yeah it’s expensive but it has a really high omega-3 content, which is key. Check for products by NOW Foods, Carlson, and Jarrow. All are good companies.

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  • Aras

    Mike, as you probably know, vitamins have been in the news the last couple days. What’s your take on the latest study and doctor’s urging patients to “stop wasting money”?

    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah this isn’t the first time such sensationalism has made its way around. The bottom line is our bodies do need a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals and it’s hard to get it all from your food. This is especially true for us fitness folk that beat up our bodies.

      I look at a multi as a “just to make sure.” I’m not trying to prevent or cure diseases, I’m just trying to make sure my body gets adequate micronutrients…

      • Andrew

        Would a multivitamin like Kirkland or Rainbow Light be alright or would something like VitaminCode be more appropriate? Is there really any difference in quality?

        • Michael Matthews

          Yeah there definitely are differences in quality. Generally speaking, you get what you pay for in the world of supplements.

          I’m honestly not sure if those are good products. I’ve heard of Kirkland but haven’t researched them at all…

          • Joe

            A recent article in Men’s Health magazine recommended Nature Made Multi for Him. Is it safe to assume that MH is a solid resource?

          • Michael Matthews

            No, MH is generally a pile of shit.

  • Felipe Nogueira
    • Michael Matthews

      Yeah these kinds of studies/stories come around every couple of years. The bottom line is that the body needs many different vitamins and minerals to function optimally and it’s hard to get them all from food, even when you’re TRYING.

      A GOOD multi (this is key as the average one-a-day multi is shit) is worth taking, IMO, to fill any holes left by your diet. It’s a long-term strategy to optimize your health, not a quick fix.

  • Mariana

    Even with your 4 multivitamins a day, are you still taking your omega 3 supplement, green tea extract, and spirulina on top of that? I bought the women’s version of Vitamin Code since I read your other article first 😉

    Have you ever watched a documentary called “Food Matters” on Netflix? As cliche as it sounds, it changed my life. It talks about a lot of food stuff that you probably already know, but they cover orthomolecular medicine and the amazing benefits that “megadosing” on certain vitamins can have. I drink about 3,000mg of vitamin C a day when I feel well, and up it to 10,000+ when I start to feel weird. Came down with the flu, and between those big doses and a turmeric drink, I was over it completely in 2 days. Overall, I’ve never been healthier or felt better in my life after applying what I learned from that video.
    If you aren’t much a documentary watcher but that kind of stuff interests you, there’s a book called Doctor Yourself. It’s an in-depth look into other medical things that vitamins are good for: depression, alcoholism, everything. It’s endless, crazy, and super interesting (at least I think so). I get obsessive about stuff.
    Thanks for the article!

    • Michael Matthews

      Yup, I take them in addition as they’re not in the multi. The multi is just to make sure I’m getting enough essential vits and minerals.

      No I haven’t but I’ve heard of it. It sounds interesting. I’m going to check it out.

      I’ve also super-dosed C when I’ve gotten sick and it seemed to help, despite the fact that clinical research has indicated that it doesn’t/shouldn’t. It’s odd.

      Thanks for the book reco took! I’ll go look now!

      • AJ THEODAS

        Iv seen that documentary aswell and it’s information on vits a mins is quite outstanding. They basically say you can reverse any medical condition with high intakes of essential vits and mins. It’s even
        Been proved it can reverse cancer. Phenomenal.

        • Michael Matthews

          Interesting!

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  • Adam Armstrong

    Great Articles Mike,

    I am a little frustrated that I just discovered your site, articles, and books. I will be buying an ecopy or physical copy of the Year 1 Challenge. I am vitamin K deficient, taking Warfarin for some clotting issues, this limits…well everything. How screwed am I with trying to cut and gain mass?

    • Michael Matthews

      Haha thanks man I appreciate it.

      Do you supplement with vit K?

      I don’t know of any reason why Warfarin will get in the way? I’m not too familiar with the drug though–just that it’s an anticoagulant.

      • Adam Armstrong

        I am at a therapeutic level with the Warfarin, so I have to cut out, or extremely limit, my greens and vitamin K intake. Excess protein can stimulate how the body clears Warfarin from one’s blood, or how Warfarin removes vitamin K. I just feel like I am treading water; can’t supplement, can’t drink protein after a workout. I think I’ll re-read this article and troll through your others to get some idears. Appriciate it.

        • Michael Matthews

          Oh okay. Well, shows how little I know about pharmaceuticals, heh.

          Are you limited in the amount of protein you can eat every day?

          • Adam Armstrong

            My diet needs to be consistent. I have substituted whey for chicken, probably not the best, but seems to work alright. I can feel the clots disintegration, at least in the arm and leg, after I am medically cleared for…life, I want to order some Legion Whey. Do you have a post on your diet and a general workout routine you stick to?

          • Michael Matthews

            Okay cool. So long as you can eat enough food you can make gains. So that’s a good thing.

            I practice what I preach. I recommend you read Bigger Leaner Stronger as it’s exactly what I do for dieting and my training is very similar–just an advanced version of that program that is in my next book, which is coming out soon.

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  • Paul

    Hi Mike
    Are there any site effects of Niacin?

    Because the dosage in many multivitamins seems high to me 100mg (Tolerable Upper Intake Level for Niacin is 35 mg
    per day, and I also eat a lot of food with niacin), and I have also read some frightening reports about liver damage.

    I would like to take Legion TRIUMPH Multivitamin Supplement. Can you please help me on this.

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  • Austin

    Hey Mike what is a good multivitamin that can be purchased at major stores like shopco and walmart that are not too expensive, I would buy triumph but it seems a bit expensive and I want to see if I can get away with something a little less expensive

    Thanks

    • Michael Matthews

      Hmm honestly I’m not sure, sorry. Unfortunately with some supplements you get what you pay for and multis and whey proteins are particularly like this.

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  • Thanks for stopping by and checking out my article! I hope you enjoyed it.

    Feel free to comment below if you have any questions. I do my best to check and reply to every comment left on my blog, so don’t be shy!

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  • Chantelle New

    This is an absolutely brilliant article Michael. I work in the field of health and nutrition and have been researching endlessly for the last month for different blog posts but I haven’t until now come across a post so incredibly informative. Very well done, I’ll definitely be following your work from here on in.

    Thank you

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  • Brant Konja

    hey Mike, first off I would like to say thank you for your hard work. Your informative articles and book, Bigger Leaner Stronger, have helped change my life for the better. I was suffering for chronic fatigue, stomach aches, hair loss and depression. but now that I take spirulina (9 grams a day),astaxanthin (8 milligrams a day), tumeric, 5-HTP and Alpha-GPC. My entire life has changed. My grades have gone up, I get better tips for my tables because I always feel positive and good. I feel like my health is returning to where it once was before the exponential decline in my health from H-pylori. I can’t express enough how grateful I am to your work. I’ve even changed majors to kinesiology – pre-physical therapy. If I ever meet you in real life i’m going to give you the biggest bear hug of your life! lol i’m curious though whether or not taking 9 grams of spirulina and your legion multi-vitamin is safe to take together? should I cut down the spirulina down to 3 grams a day? I would appreciate your help! I hope you have an awesome day!

    • Thanks Brant!

      I’m really glad to hear you’re doing so well.

      You know I recently cut my spirulina down to 5 grams per day and haven’t noticed any negative effects, so I’m keeping it there. That’s how much is going to be in my greens product coming out later this year.

  • leonight

    ok i think i get most of the vitamin, minerals but i still want to take supplement because i don’t count daily value . my question is will there be any problem if take supplement ignoring my daily intake of vitamins and minerals . what if get overdosed on any of these.

    • I’m the same way and no if you eat a few servings of fruit and veggies per day plus take a good multi, you’re good to go.

  • Frank S

    Should we supplement with potassium if we need to bring it closer to our daily sodium intake?

  • mary

    Hi Mike,
    I have found that calorie for calorie, nothing else has as much potassium as low sodium V8. For one 50 calorie 8-ounce serving, you can have 900mg of potassium. And it doesn’t taste bad at all.
    Not that I would mind eating a bunch of potatoes and bananas, but I have to watch the calories on my cutting plan.
    Maria

  • TD

    I can attest that supplementing with some vitamins and minerals can make all the difference in how you feel. Earlier this summer, I was feeling really fatigued, had trouble sleeping, itchy skin without a visible rash, etc. I went to the doctor and had some blood tests down. Turns out I was real low in both vitamin D and magnesium. Starting supplementing and within 4-6 weeks felt remarkedly better. Nowadays, I feel pretty much back to my old self. Amazing that my symptoms all led back to being deficient in a couple of vitamins and minerals.

    • Yup. It’s crazy the effects that a deficiency can have.

      Glad you figured it out!

  • Noah

    Hey Mike,

    Just wondering why you take an extra gram of Vitamin C everyday? (On your current supplement schedule) I could not find any articles about this…

  • Brian Giffin

    Mike after listening to one of your pod casts where you were talking about the importance of potassium and vitamin D. I looked at my multi and decided to add additional Potassium and D to my diet.
    The D is a no Brainer but after doing additional resurch I found out I’m already eating plenty of foods high in potassium. I drink at least 3 cups of milk a day, eat any where from 1-2 cups of potatoes a day eat a whole Avacado every day and at least 11-12 Oz of chicken brest a day. Still not sure if Im getting the 4,750 MG regiment a day.

    What’s too much ? I am taking potassium supliments as well.
    I don’t want to get too much as well.

    Thanks!

    • Nice on both points.

      Personally I just stick to the IOM’s recommendations: 2 to 3 g sodium and 4 to 5 g potassium per day.

      • Brian Giffin

        Can you also make a Legion shirt that says cross fit sucks! For the freeking idiots in my gym?

        I need a a large please!

  • Echino

    Hey Mike,

    I noticed in the 1st ed. of BLS you talk about supplementing with Potassium Chloride and in BLS 2.0 you took it out. Now you’re stating that you should supplement with Potassium Citrate or Potassium Gluconate. There has to be a reason but I’m not sure as to why haha. It KCl bad for you or not absorbed as well?
    Thanks,
    Chad

    • Sorry for the confusion and no it doesn’t really matter. I’ve just rotated through for no good reason, haha.

      • Chad

        Thanks Mike!

      • Chad

        Perfect! Thanks, I’ll just continue to put some on my food as usual.

  • Bryce Aaron Buell

    Mike – first thank you for all you do – changed my life brother! I just visited the doctor for my annual physical (45 – ouch) and I got blood work done. It says my iron level are on the low end. This appears to be the case throughout my life. My question is do you think I should supplement with a dedicated iron supplement, or will Triumph fit the bill. I don’t eat a lot of red meat – mostly chicken and ground turkey. Thank you sir!

    • Thanks Bryce!

      Good question and Triumph may take care of you. I would give it a go and get blood tested again. If it doesn’t, add iron on top?

  • tweets32

    Mike, I’m a 53 yr old female that has been diagnosed in the last year with Parkinson’s Disease. I’ve always struggled with anxiety and depression also. I am very much in shape and before this had been working your Bigger, Leaner, Stronger program and was able to make very good gains. However, now if I push myself too hard on the weights I start to shake. Unfortunately PD also causes fatigue. I haven’t given up though. I work out every day. I just do less exercises and know when to take a break. I’d really like to start feeling better. I’m on meds, which help with the symptoms a lot. But I know this is a progressive disease and I want to prevent further deterioration. I believe in natural medicines and have started taking Turmeric which is supposed to be good for PD. I’m wondering if you think that the Triumph supplement will help me with my anxiety and fatigue? I noticed several ingredients in there that claim to help with this but I’m wondering if I can expect to notice a difference? I’ve taken many other supplements before which people claim to help with fatigue, etc. (Vit D, sublingual B12) and have never noticed the slightest difference. I’d appreciate your thoughts on this and anything else that you can recommend. Thanks.

  • Jeremy LaHaie

    Multi vitamins and fish oil, several times a day or all at once? Does it matter?

    • It’s not a big deal if you want to take everything at once or spread it out throughout the day.

      I take my multivitamin two times a day. Fish oil I take all at once.

  • Tomas Jessen

    What do you think about supplementing with vitamin D and vitamin C ? From the pharmacy

  • Jon96

    What are your thoughts on dipotassium phosphate?

    • Don’t know much about it honestly other than it’s a GRAS salt.

      • Jon96

        Is it a good source of pottasium can my body absorb it?

        • Again, I haven’t read anything on it. Sorry. Why not just get your potassium from food?

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