Food Sourcing for Micronutrients

*Sometimes we just need to nerd out on nutrition. One of our interns did just that in covering the micronutrients. Bookmark this post to use as a reference when researching particular micronutrients. We believe in a food-first approach and with this post, we hope you can see why we choose to focus on foods first before adding in supplements. Check out ALL the nutrition food actually supplies! Happy reading! - FLN Dietitians 



Micronutrients are nutrients that are needed by the body in small amounts. These nutrients are vital for the body to function. Micronutrients have many roles, some including energy production, immune function, creation of neurotransmitters, and protection of cells. We must obtain micronutrients from our diet because our body does not produce them. Vitamins and minerals are the two categories of micronutrients. We'll cover the ACTION, SOURCE, and RECOMMENDED AMOUNT for each listed.



Vitamins are divided into two groups, water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins can dissolve in water. These vitamins are not easily stored in the body. Fat soluble vitamins do not dissolve in water and are best absorbed when consumed with a source of fat. After we consume fat soluble vitamins they are stored in our liver and fatty tissue to be used later.


Water Soluble Vitamins


Vitamin B1 (thiamine)

  • Helps convert the food we eat into energy
  • Nuts, seeds, whole grains, liver, pork, fortified cereals
  • 1.1 mg/day for adult women, 1.2 mg/day for adult men

Vitamine B2 (riboflavin)

  • Necessary for energy production, cell function and fat metabolism
  • Leafy green vegetables, eggs, milk, liver, legumes, meat
  • 1.1 mg/day for adult women, 1.3 mg/day for adult men

Vitamin B3 (niacin)

  • Helps convert the food we eat into energy
  • Fish, turkey, pork, peanuts, dairy, mushrooms
  • 14 mg/day for adult women, 16 mg/day for adult men

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid)

  • Essential for building and breaking down fatty acids
  • Mushrooms, sunflower seeds, chicken, beef, egg yolks, avocado
  • 5 mg/day for adults

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)

  • Helps your body release sugar from stored carbohydrates for energy and create red blood cells
  • Pistachio nuts, salmon, sunflower seeds, bananas, chickpeas, potatoes
  • 1.3-1.5 mg/day for adult women, 1.3-1.7 mg/day for adult men

Vitamin B7 (biotin)

  • Plays a role in the metabolism of fatty acids, amino acids and glucose
  • Eggs, salmon, avocados, sweet potatoes, nuts, seeds
  • 30 mcg/day for adults

Vitamin B9 (folate)

  • Important for healthy cell growth and function
  • Dark leafy greens, beans, peanuts, whole grains, fruit
  • 400 mcg/day for adults

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin)

  • Necessary for red blood cell formation and proper nervous system and brain function
  • Meat, fish, milk, eggs, liver 
  • 2.4 mcg/day for adults

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid)

  • Required for the creation of neurotransmitters and collagen, the main protein in your skin
  • Red bell peppers, kale, citrus, strawberries
  • 75 mg/day for adult women, 90 mg/day for adult men

Fat Soluble Vitamins


Vitamin A

  • Essential for vision, skin health, and immunity
  • Leafy greens, tomatoes, red bell peppers, mango, milk, eggs
  • 700 mcg/day for adult women, 900 mcg/day for adult men

Vitamin D

  • Essential for bone health and immunity
  • Salmon, tuna, fortified products, liver, sunlight
  • (The only micronutrient that is produced in the body)
  • 15-20 mcg/day for adults

Vitamin E

  • Acts as an antioxidant
  • Vegetable oil, nuts, seeds, leafy greens
  • 15 mg/day for adults

Vitamin K

  • Required for blood clotting, bone health, and heart health
  • All leafy greens!
  • 90 mcg/day for adult women, 120 mcg/day for adult men


Minerals are divided into two groups: macrominerals and trace minerals. You need a larger amount of macrominerals and only a small amount of trace minerals. 





  • Builds and protects teeth and bones, assists in muscle function
  • Dairy, leafy greens, nuts, seeds
  • 1,000-1,200 mg/day for adults


  • Takes part in bone and cell membrane structure
  • Whole grains, seeds, nuts, turkey, salmon
  • 700 mg/day for adults


  • Necessary for chemical reactions to take place in the body
  • Leafy greens, legumes, nuts, seeds, whole grains
  • 310-320 mg/day for adult women, 400-420 mg/day for adult men


  • Fluid balance and blood pressure maintenance
  • Salt, processed foods, seaweed, kelp
  • 1,500 mg/day for adults


  • Nerve transmission and muscle function
  • Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, legumes
  • 2,300-2,600 mg/day for adult women, 3,000-3,400 mg/day for adult men


  • Fluid balance and helps make digestive enzymes
  • Salt, celery, seaweed
  • 1.8-2.3 g/day for adults


  • Protect cells from damage
  • Meat, nuts, seeds, vegetables

Trace Minerals



  • Essential for carrying oxygen throughout the body
  • Meats, seafood, seeds, leafy greens, legumes
  • 18 mg/day for adult women, 8 mg/day for adult men


  • Assists in carbohydrate, protein, and cholesterol metabolism
  • Whole grains, leafy greens, nuts, seeds
  • 1.8 mg/day for adult women, 2.3 mg/day for adult men


  • Needed for brain and nervous system function
  • Shellfish, nuts, seeds, whole grains
  • 900 mcg/day for adults


  • A component of the thyroid hormone and necessary for fetal growth and development
  • Seafood, iodized salt, dairy, potatoes, cranberries
  • 150 mcg/day for adults


  • Promotes immune function
  • Meats, seafood, mushrooms, legumes, nuts, seeds
  • 8 mg/day for adult women, 11 mg/day for adult men


  • Assists in vitamin b12 functions
  • Fish, nuts, green leafy vegetables
  • RDA has not been set


  • Development of bones and teeth
  • Fluorinated water, toothpaste with fluoride 
  • 3 mg/day for adult women, 4 mg/day for adult men


  • Important for thyroid health
  • Nuts, seafood, meats, whole grains, milk
  • 55 mcg/day for adults




*Written by Cassidy Rhoads, an FLN Intern


Write a comment

Comments: 0