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What vitamins should I take daily?

Updated February 08, 2024. Medically reviewed by Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP. To give you technically accurate, evidence-based information, content published on the Everlywell blog is reviewed by credentialed professionals with expertise in medical and bioscience fields.

Table of contents

Essential Vitamins

Essential Minerals

Essential Vitamins

From the time we were kids, many of us have heard from parents and teachers about the importance of taking our vitamins—and there’s a reason for that. Vitamins are micronutrients our bodies need to function normally. [1]

But what vitamins should you take every day to maintain optimal health?

While your individual needs will depend on your age, sex, genetics, lifestyle, and various other factors, some vitamins can benefit virtually everyone when taken daily. This guide will touch on those nutrients you should consume every day, how much of them you need, and the health benefits of each one.

1. Vitamin A

Alphabetically first (and almost equally important) is vitamin A, a fat-soluble vitamin. Taking in the right amount of vitamin A each day is essential, as the nutrient supports: [2]

  • Immune function
  • Eyesight
  • Cellular communication
  • Development
  • Reproduction
  • Cell differentiation

For anyone 14 years and up, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 900mcg for males and 700mcg for females. [3] Most vitamin A supplements or daily multivitamins contain at least the RDA.

You can also source your vitamin A from foods like:

  • Sweet potato
  • Spinach
  • Carrots
  • Beef liver
  • Mangos
  • Herring

2. Vitamin B6

When it comes to the vitamin B family, there are a few that are considered essential. One essential vitamin is B6. Vitamin B6 is a generic name that encompasses six organic compounds and is another must-have on your list of daily vitamins. B6 is involved in the formation of more than 100 enzymes. These enzymes fulfill countless roles within our bodies. [4]

Some of the most important processes involving vitamin B6 include: [5]

  • Breaking down proteins
  • Regulating glucose levels (blood sugar)
  • Generating antibodies
  • Making hemoglobin (the cells that carry oxygen to your tissues)

The RDAs for vitamin B6 vary depending on your age and sex. The Office of Dietary Supplements recommends the following: [6]

  • For those aged 14–18 – 1.3 mg for males, 1.2 mg for females
  • For those aged 19–50 – 1.3 mg for males and females
  • For those 51 and up – 1.7 mg for males, 1.5 mg for females

Note that the RDA increases for pregnant or lactating people (to 1.9 mg and 2.0 mg, respectively). [6]

Vitamin B6 can be taken alone as a vitamin supplement or as part of a multivitamin. You can also find it in various foods, such as: [6]

  • Chickpeas
  • Fish (yellowfin tuna, sockeye salmon)
  • Meat and organ meats (chicken, turkey, beef liver)
  • Potatoes

3 Vitamin B9 (folate)

Another essential B vitamin is B9, also called folate (the natural form) or folic acid (the synthetic form).

Folate supports healthy metabolism and immune system by contributing to regular cell growth and function. Your body also needs folate to produce red blood cells, metabolize amino acids, and make DNA, RNA, and other genetic materials. [7]

So, how much folate do you need each day? The answer is a little complicated, as the two forms of vitamin B9—folate and folic acid—are not absorbed by the body in the same way. Broadly speaking, you’ll need more folate than folic acid to reach the appropriate daily intake of 400mcg of dietary folate equivalents (DFEs) per day. [7]

Many people consume less than the daily recommended amount of folate. [8] To ensure you have your fill, you can either take it in a multivitamin or eat more foods high in folate like: [8]

  • Broccoli
  • Spinach
  • Lettuce
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fortified grains and breakfast cereals

Since folate is an important vitamin in fetal nervous system development, it is recommended for pregnant and lactating individuals.

4. Vitamin B12

The final B vitamin to take every day is B12. Vitamin B12—also known as cobalamin—fulfills numerous roles with the body, including: [9]

  • Synthesizing DNA
  • Regulating the development and function of the central nervous system
  • Forming red blood cells

Ensuring you consume enough B12 is crucial for your overall health. A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to megaloblastic anemia, a condition that causes weakness and fatigue. [10]

To continue feeling your best, it's worth taking the recommended daily intake of vitamin B12. So, how much vitamin B12 should you take? For those 14 and up, the Office of Dietary Supplements lists a recommended dietary allowance of 2.4 mcg per day. [9]

Where can you find all that B12? Aside from taking vitamin B12 supplements, you can up your consumption by eating B12-rich foods, such as: [9]

  • Seafood (clams, tuna, salmon)
  • Dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese
  • Beef liver
  • Fortified nutritional yeast or breakfast cereals
  • Eggs

5. Vitamin C

Sometimes referred to as L-ascorbic acid, a water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin C is worth consuming every day as it: [11]

  • Protects your cells from free radicals
  • Helps produce collagen
  • Boosts the immune system
  • Improves iron absorption

Depending on your age and sex, your recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for vitamin C varies. Here is a rundown to help you determine how much of the vitamin you need: [12]

  • For those aged 14–18 – 75 mg for males, 65 mg for females
  • For those 19 and up – 90 mg for males, 75 mg for females

It’s also worth noting that you may need extra vitamin C if you are pregnant, lactating, or are a regular smoker. [12]

As with most vitamins, humans cannot synthesize vitamin C. As such, we must ingest this vital nutrient through multivitamins and our diet. Fruits and vegetables are the primary source of vitamin C for most people. Good sources of vitamin C include: [12]

  • Bell peppers
  • Citrus fruits (oranges, grapefruits)
  • Kiwis
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts

6. Vitamin D

Because of the many ways vitamin D factors into your body’s biological processes and structures, it’s one of the most important vitamins to incorporate into your daily diet. Vitamin D, another fat-soluble vitamin, plays a part in maintaining your bones, muscles, nerves, and immune system. [13]

The vitamin D in foods and supplements comes in two forms: [13]

  • Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) – D2 is derived from plants.
  • Vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol) – D3 is derived from animals and may be slightly more potent.

The recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for vitamin D don’t change much throughout our lives. From 14 to 70, everyone needs 15 mcg of vitamin D each day. After 70, that figure increases to 20 mcg/day. [14]

While we mostly receive our necessary vitamins from food and supplements, vitamin D is a notable exception. Your body can also synthesize it through exposure to sunlight. [14] Otherwise, you'll find it in foods high in vitamin D, including:

  • Fish (trout, salmon, sardines, tuna)
  • Mushrooms
  • Fortified foods like cereals, milk, and milk alternatives
  • Cheese
  • Eggs

As you'll likely notice, most of these foods are animal products. Since plant-based sources are limited, vegans and vegetarians, in particular, can benefit from a vitamin D supplement - especially those who live further north and don't receive adequate sunlight, and are at a higher risk of vitamin D deficiency.

7. Vitamin E

Vitamin E (a stand-in term for eight chemical forms) acts as an antioxidant, bolsters the immune system, and helps ward off blood clots by widening your blood vessels. [15] It’s also involved in cell signaling and various metabolic processes. [16]

Because vitamin E fulfills so many functions in your body, it’s essential to have enough of it every day. After you’re over 14 years old, the recommended dosage is 15 mg/day. [16]

Many foods are fortified with vitamin E. Other common sources of the essential nutrient (besides multivitamins) include: [16]

  • Almonds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Hazelnuts
  • Peanut butter
  • Broccoli
  • Kiwis
  • Tomatoes
  • Oils (sunflower, safflower, corn)

8. Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that plays an essential role in blood clotting. Adequate intake of vitamin K is linked to a reduced risk of heart disease, as it helps prevent calcium from depositing in the arteries [17]. The recommended daily allowance (RDA) of vitamin K varies by age and gender. For adults 19 years and older, men need 120 mcg/day, while women need 90 mcg/day [17]. Food sources rich in vitamin K include [17]:

  • Leafy green vegetables (kale, spinach, turnip greens)
  • Vegetable oils
  • Some fruits (blueberries, figs)
  • Meat
  • Cheese
  • Eggs
  • Fermented foods like natto (a Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans)

As part of a healthy eating regimen, incorporating a variety of vitamin K-rich foods can support both bone and cardiovascular health. For individuals who have difficulty maintaining a diet rich in these foods, vitamin supplements containing vitamin K may be an effective way to ensure adequate intake. However, it's important to consult with a healthcare provider before starting any supplement, especially for those taking blood-thinning medications, as vitamin K can interfere with these drugs [17].

Essential Minerals

Aside from vitamins, minerals are equally important in maintaining our body's wellness. These minerals play a key role in various bodily functions, from maintaining strong bones to ensuring your heart and brain function properly.

1. Calcium

Calcium is practically synonymous with bone health. It's one of the most abundant minerals in the human body and integral to blood clotting, muscle contraction, nerve signaling, and overall well-being.

Pregnant and lactating women have different calcium needs than most. Pregnant teens require 1,300 mg per day, while lactating teens need 1,000 mg. Pregnant and lactating adults should consume 1,000 mg per day [18, 19]. Otherwise, the recommended daily allowances (RDAs) for calcium are as follows:

  • For adults aged 19-50, 1,000 mg per day for both males and females.
  • Women aged 51-70 should increase their intake to 1,200 mg per day.
  • Men aged 51-70 should maintain a daily intake of 1,000 mg and increase to 1,200 mg per day at the age of 71.

A diverse range of foods can provide you with your daily calcium needs, including [18]:

  • Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt
  • Fortified food such as cereals and plant-based milk
  • Leafy greens, including kale, broccoli, and Chinese cabbage
  • Nuts and fatty fish, especially almonds and canned sardines or salmon (with bones)

For some, dietary sources may not be enough to meet the daily calcium requirements. This is where a calcium supplement can help. They can bridge the gap, especially for individuals at risk of issues like osteoporosis [19]. However, it's important to note that excessive calcium intake can lead to health problems such as kidney stones.

2. Iron

Iron is an essential nutrient that plays a leading role in cardiovascular health, producing the hemoglobin and myoglobin that brings oxygen throughout your body. [20] It's also involved in neurological development, growth, and the production of various hormones. [20]

Your iron needs change throughout your life, but its importance to your overall health remains the same. The breakdown for iron requirements among males and females is as follows: [20]

  • For those aged 14–18 – 11 mg for males, 15 mg for females
  • For those aged 19–50 – 8 mg for males, 18 mg for females
  • For those 51 and up – 8 mg for males and females

Additionally, if you're pregnant, your iron requirements nearly double to 27 mg/day. [20]

Iron is another nutrient that comes largely from animal sources. As such, vegans and vegetarians may find it beneficial to take iron supplements or daily multivitamins. To increase your iron intake through diet alone, you can consume more:

  • Oysters
  • Fortified cereals
  • Beans, lentils, and chickpeas
  • Beef liver
  • Spinach
  • Tofu
  • Sardines

3. Zinc

Zinc is associated with maintaining a robust immune response, synthesizing proteins and DNA, and healing wounds. [21] From pre-birth to your teenage years, zinc is especially vital for healthy development. It even helps with your senses of taste and smell. [21] The amount of zinc you need also depends on your age and sex. From 14-18, the RDA is 11 mg for males and 9 mg for females. From 19 onwards, males require 11 mg, while females need 8 mg. [21] Zinc is a common ingredient in multivitamins, but you can also find it in foods like:

  • Oysters
  • Beef
  • Cereals
  • Pork
  • Turkey
  • Shrimp
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Lentils
  • Cheese

How to choose the right vitamins

From vitamin A to zinc, that's a whole lot of nutrients - and as we mentioned earlier, the exact requirements will differ for everyone. At this point, you may be asking yourself, what vitamins do I need daily?

Ultimately, there are several ways to pinpoint exactly which vitamins and minerals you need to consume every day:

  • Speak with your healthcare provider – Through physical examinations and conversations about your lifestyle and nutrition choices, a healthcare provider can help you determine which vitamins you may need to take every day. When it comes to men's vs women's multivitamin needs, some individuals need higher doses of a specific vitamin.
  • Take vitamin level tests – More conveniently, you can measure for certain vitamin deficiencies from the comfort of your own home. For example, you can take at-home tests for vitamin D and at-home tests for B vitamins.
  • Examine your diet – By tracking the nutritional information listed on the foods you typically eat, you can come to a reasonable conclusion about which vitamins you may be lacking.

Everlywell has the vitamin supplements you need

Once you know which vitamins you need to take every day, it's time to work them into your routine.

If you struggle to remember when to take your vitamins or when to refill, consider a subscription from Everlywell. Not only will you receive the nutrients you need every month, but you’ll also benefit from discounted rates.

With dietary supplements for vitamin D3, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12—as well as a daily multivitamin—Everlywell can support your quest for healthful living.

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  1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Vitamins and Minerals. Updated July, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  2. Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin A. Updated March, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  3. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin A and Carotenoids: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated March, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  4. National Health Institute. Vitamin B. Updated June, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  5. MedlinePlus. Vitamin B6. Updated, May 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  6. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin B6: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated June, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  7. Mayo Clinic. Folate (folic acid). Published August 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  8. National Institutes of Health. Folate: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated November, 2022. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  9. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin B12: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated December, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  10. Cleveland Clinic. Megaloblastic Anemia. Updated May, 2022. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  11. National Health Service. Vitamin C. Updated August, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  12. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin C: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated March, 2021. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  13. CDC. Micronutrients Facts. Updated February, 2022. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  14. National Institutes of Health. Vitamin D: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated September, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  15. Mayo Clinic. Vitamin E. Updated August, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  16. Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin E. Updated March, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  17. Harvard School of Public Health. Vitamin K. Updated March, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  18. National Institutes of Health. Calcium: Fact Sheet for Consumers. Updated September, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  19. National Institutes of Health. Calcium: Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. Updated January, 2024. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  20. National Institutes of Health. Iron: Fact Sheet for Consumers. Updated August, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.
  21. Harvard School of Public Health. Zinc. Updated March, 2023. URL. Accessed January 24, 2024.

Jillian Foglesong Stabile, MD, FAAFP is a board-certified Family Physician. Since completing her residency training in 2010, she’s been practicing full-scope family medicine in a rural setting. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s practice includes caring for patients of all ages for preventative care as well as chronic disease management. She also provides prenatal care and delivers babies. Dr. Foglesong Stabile completed a teaching fellowship in 2020 and teaches the family medicine clerkship for one of her local medical schools. Dr. Foglesong Stabile’s favorite thing about family medicine is the variety of patients she sees in her clinical practice.
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