Breakdown of Required Nutrients for an Adult

A nutrient-dense, balanced diet is the optimal way to get all the nutrients you need.
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If you maintain a healthy, balanced diet and take in an adequate number of calories, you probably get all of the nutrients you need each day through food. Supplementing can be beneficial if you are deficient in certain nutrients, but taking many times your recommended daily intake can cause toxicity or interfere with your body's ability to absorb other nutrients. Adhere to the Institute of Medicine's recommendations for optimal nutrition.


    Food is made of carbohydrates, protein and fat, and you need all three to stay alive and healthy. The IOM recommends that 45 to 65 percent of the calories in your diet come from carbohydrates, preferably from foods high in dietary fiber, such as whole grains, fruit and vegetables. Protein should constitute 10 to 30 percent of your calories, and the remainder, 25 to 35 percent, should come from fat. The IOM recommends limiting your intake of saturated fat, as it can raise your cholesterol and cause cardiovascular problems.


    Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral zinc are antioxidants that fight free radicals. They help keep your cells healthy and protect you from chronic disease and premature aging. The IOM recommends that men get 900 micrograms of vitamin A, 90 milligrams of vitamin C and 9.4 milligrams of zinc daily. Women need 700 micrograms of vitamin A, 75 milligrams of vitamin C and 6.8 milligrams of zinc each day. These nutrients benefit your bones, organs and heart, and an adequate daily intake is essential.

B-Complex Vitamins

    B-complex vitamins help your body use the carbohydrates, protein and fat from the foods you eat. The IOM recommends that all adults get 30 micrograms of biotin, 400 micrograms of folate, 1.3 milligrams of vitamin B-6, 2.4 micrograms of vitamin B-12 and 5 milligrams of pantothenic acid daily. Women should get 1.1 milligrams of thiamin, 14 milligrams of niacin and 1.1 milligrams of riboflavin each day and men need 1.2 milligrams of thiamin, 16 milligrams of niacin and 1.3 milligrams of riboflavin.

Vitamins D and K

    Men and women need 15 micrograms of vitamin D daily to help their bodies absorb calcium. According to authors of a study published in the "Journal of Nutrition" in 2010, the average adult in the United States gets less than half the recommended amount, increasing her risk of osteoporosis. The IOM also recommends that women and men get 90 and 120 micrograms of vitamin K per day, respectively. Vitamin K helps your blood clot properly and helps keep your bones strong.


    Essential minerals benefit your bones, blood, muscles, circulatory system and the overall efficiency of your body. The IOM recommends that all adults get 1,000 milligrams of calcium, 4,700 milligrams of potassium, 900 micrograms of copper and 700 milligrams of phosphorus each day. Women need 18 milligrams of iron, 8 milligrams of zinc and 320 milligrams of magnesium daily, while men need 8 milligrams of iron, 11 milligrams of zinc and 420 milligrams of magnesium per day.

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