foods boost immunity

Foods that boost immune system

There are no special diets or particular foods, that will directly boost your immune system 1). But there are things you can do to keep your immunity up.

People who are infected with HIV (human immunodeficiency virus) – the HIV virus attacks their immune system (specifically the CD4 cells, often called T lymphocyte cells), the body’s natural defense system 2). These special cells help the immune system fight off infections. Over time, the HIV virus can destroy so many of these cells that the body can’t fight off infections and disease. Without a strong immune system, the body has trouble fighting off disease.

Untreated, HIV reduces the number of CD4 cells (T cells) in the body. This damage to the immune system makes it harder and harder for the body to fight off infections and some other diseases. Opportunistic infections or cancers take advantage of a very weak immune system and signal that the person has AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). AIDS is the last stage of HIV infection and people with AIDS have have such badly damaged immune systems that they get an increasing number of severe illnesses, called opportunistic infections. People with AIDS get infections or cancers that rarely occur in healthy people and these can be deadly.

No effective cure currently exists, but with proper medical care, HIV can be controlled. When you are infected with HIV, your immune system has to work very hard to fight off infections–and this takes energy (measured in calories). For some people, this may mean you need to eat more food than you used to 3).

If you are underweight–or you have advanced HIV disease, high viral loads, or opportunistic infections–you should include more protein as well as extra calories (in the form of carbohydrates and fats) 4).

Why is nutrition important ?

Good nutrition means getting enough macronutrients and micronutrients.

  • Macronutrients contain calories (energy): proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. They help you maintain your body weight.
  • Micronutrients include vitamins and minerals. They keep your cells working properly, but will not prevent weight loss.

Nutrition is important for everyone because food gives your bodies the nutrients they need to stay healthy, grow, and work properly. Foods are made up of six classes of nutrients, each with its own special role in the body:

  • Protein builds muscles and a strong immune system.
  • Carbohydrates (including vegetables, fruits, grains) give you energy.
  • Fat gives you extra energy.
  • Vitamins regulate body processes.
  • Minerals regulate body processes and also make up body tissues.
  • Water gives cells shape and acts as a medium where body processes can occur.

Having good nutrition means eating the right types of foods in the right amounts so you get these important nutrients.

Weight loss can be a common problem for people with relatively advanced stages of HIV infection, and it should be taken very seriously. Losing weight can be dangerous because it makes it harder for your body to fight infections and to get well after you’re sick.

People with advanced HIV often do not eat enough because:

  • HIV may reduce your appetite, make food taste bad, and prevent the body from absorbing food in the right way. Some HIV medicines may also cause these symptoms (if this is so, tell your HIV specialist–you may be able to change to medications that do not have these side effects).
  • symptoms like a sore mouth, nausea, and vomiting make it difficult to eat
  • fatigue from HIV or medicines may make it hard to prepare food and eat regularly

To keep your weight up, you will need to take in more protein and calories. What follows are ways to do that.

To add protein to your diet

Protein-rich foods include meats, fish, beans, dairy products, and nuts. To boost the protein in your meals:

  • Spread nut butter on toast, crackers, fruit, or vegetables.
  • Add cottage cheese to fruit and tomatoes.
  • Add canned tuna to casseroles and salads.
  • Add shredded cheese to sauces, soups, omelets, baked potatoes, and steamed vegetables.
  • Eat yogurt on your cereal or fruit.
  • Eat hard-boiled (hard-cooked) eggs. Use them in egg-salad sandwiches or slice and dice them for tossed salads.
  • Eat beans and legumes (pinto and other beans, lentils, etc), nuts, and seeds
  • Add diced or chopped meats to soups, salads, and sauces.
  • Add dried milk powder or egg white powder to foods (like scrambled eggs, casseroles, and milkshakes).

To add calories to your diet

The best way to increase calories is to add extra fat and carbohydrates to your meals.

Fats are more concentrated sources of calories. Add moderate amounts of the following to your meals:

  • olive oil, soybean oil, canola oil, sour cream, cream cheese, peanut butter
  • gravy, sour cream, cream cheese, grated cheese
  • avocados, olives, salad dressing

Carbohydrates include both starches and simple sugars.

Starches are in:

  • breads, muffins, biscuits, crackers
  • oatmeal and cold cereals
  • pasta
  • potatoes
  • rice

Simple sugars are in:

  • fresh or dried fruit (raisins, dates, apricots, etc)
  • jelly, honey, and maple syrup added to cereal, pancakes, and waffles

When you become ill, you often lose your appetite. This can lead to weight loss, which can make it harder for your body to fight infection.

Here are some tips for increasing your appetite:

  • Try a little exercise, like walking or doing yoga. This can often stimulate your appetite and make you feel like eating more.
  • Eat smaller meals more often. For instance, try to snack between meals.
  • Eat whenever your appetite is good.
  • Avoid drinking too much right before or during meals. This can make you feel full.
  • Avoid carbonated (fizzy) drinks and foods such as cabbage, broccoli, and beans. These foods and drinks can create gas in your stomach and make you feel full and bloated.
  • Eat with your family or friends.
  • Choose your favorite foods, and make meals as attractive to you as possible. Try to eat in a pleasant location.

Many of us don’t drink enough water every day. You should be getting at least 8-10 glasses of water (or other fluids, such as juices or soups) a day.

Here are some tips on getting the extra fluids you need:

  • Drink more water than usual. Try other fluids, too, like noncaffeinated teas, flavored waters, or fruit juice mixed with water.
  • Avoid colas, coffee, tea, and cocoa. These may contain caffeine and can actually dehydrate you. Read the labels on drinks to see if they have caffeine in them.
  • Avoid alcohol.
  • Begin and end each day by drinking a glass of water.
  • Suck on ice cubes and popsicles.

Note: If you have diarrhea or are vomiting, you will lose a lot of fluids and will need to drink more than usual.

People with HIV need extra vitamins and minerals to help repair and heal cells that have been damaged.

Even though vitamins and minerals are present in many foods, your health care provider may recommend a vitamin and mineral supplement (a pill or other form of concentrated vitamins and minerals). While vitamin and mineral supplements can be useful, they can’t replace eating a healthy diet.

Vitamins and minerals that affect the immune system

Table 1. Vitamins and minerals that affect the immune system

NameWhat It DoesWhere to Get ItAbout Supplements
[Source 5)]
Vitamin A and beta-caroteneKeeps skin, lungs, and stomach healthy.liver, whole eggs, milk, dark green, yellow, orange, and red vegetables and fruit (like spinach, pumpkin, green peppers, squash, carrots, papaya, and mangoes). Also found in orange and yellow sweet potatoesIt’s best to get vitamin A from food. Vitamin A supplements are toxic in high doses. Supplements of beta-carotene (the form of vitamin A in fruits and vegetables) have been shown to increase cancer risk in smokers.
Vitamin B-group (B-1, B-2, B-6, B-12, Folate)Keeps the immune and nervous system healthy.white beans, potatoes, meat, fish, chicken, watermelon, grains, nuts, avocados, broccoli, and green leafy vegetables
Vitamin CHelps protect the body from infection and aids in recovery.citrus fruits (like oranges, grapefruit, and lemons), tomatoes, and potatoes
Vitamin DImportant for developing and maintaining heathy bones and teeth.fortified milk, fatty fish, sunlight
Vitamin EProtects cells and helps fight off infection.green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, avocados, almondsLimit to 400 IU per day.
IronNot having enough iron can cause anemia.green leafy vegetables, whole grain breads and pastas, dried fruit, beans, red meat, chicken, liver, fish, and eggsLimit to 45 mg per day unless otherwise instructed by your doctor. Iron may be a problem for people with HIV because it can increase the activity of some bacteria. Supplements that do not contain iron may be better.
SeleniumImportant for the immune system.whole grains, meat, fish, poultry, eggs, peanut butter, and nutsLimit to 400 mcg per day.
ZincImportant for the immune system.meat, fish, poultry, beans, peanuts, and milk and dairy productsLimit to 40 mg per day.

List of foods containing Vitamins and Minerals that Affect the Immune System

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is name of a group of fat-soluble vitamin (retinoids, including retinol, retinal, and retinyl esters) 6), 7), 8), that is naturally present in many foods.

Vitamin A is important for normal vision, gene expression, the immune system, embryonic development, growth, and reproduction. Vitamin A also helps the heart, lungs, kidneys, and other organs work properly 9).

There are two different types of vitamin A 10).

  1. The first type, preformed vitamin A (retinol and its esterified form, retinyl ester), is found in meat (especially liver), poultry, fish, and dairy products.
  2. The second type, provitamin A carotenoids (beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and beta-cryptoxanthin), is found in fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based products (oily fruits and red palm oil). The most common type of provitamin A carotenoids in foods and dietary supplements is beta-carotene (β-carotene). The body converts these plant pigments into vitamin A.
sources of vitamin A

You can get recommended amounts of vitamin A by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Beef liver and other organ meats (but these foods are also high in cholesterol, so limit the amount you eat).
  • Some types of fish, such as salmon.
  • Green leafy vegetables and other green, orange, and yellow vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and squash.
  • Fruits, including cantaloupe, apricots, and mangos.
  • Dairy products, which are among the major sources of vitamin A for Americans.
  • Fortified breakfast cereals.

Table 2 suggests many dietary sources of vitamin A. The foods from animal sources contain primarily preformed vitamin A, the plant-based foods have provitamin A, and the foods with a mixture of ingredients from animals and plants contain both preformed vitamin A and provitamin A.

Table 2: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin A
Foodmcg RAE per
serving
IU per
serving
Percent
DV*
Sweet potato, baked in skin, 1 whole1,40328,058561
Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces6,58222,175444
Spinach, frozen, boiled, ½ cup57311,458229
Carrots, raw, ½ cup4599,189184
Pumpkin pie, commercially prepared, 1 piece4883,743249
Cantaloupe, raw, ½ cup1352,70654
Peppers, sweet, red, raw, ½ cup1172,33247
Mangos, raw, 1 whole1122,24045
Black-eyed peas (cowpeas), boiled, 1 cup661,30526
Apricots, dried, sulfured, 10 halves631,26125
Broccoli, boiled, ½ cup601,20824
Ice cream, French vanilla, soft serve, 1 cup2781,01420
Cheese, ricotta, part skim, 1 cup26394519
Tomato juice, canned, ¾ cup4282116
Herring, Atlantic, pickled, 3 ounces21973115
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin A, ¾–1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV)127–14950010
Milk, fat-free or skim, with added vitamin A and vitamin D, 1 cup14950010
Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian, 1 cup132745
Egg, hard boiled, 1 large752605
Summer squash, all varieties, boiled, ½ cup101914
Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 3 ounces591764
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 1 cup321162
Pistachio nuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce4731
Tuna, light, canned in oil, drained solids, 3 ounces20651
Chicken, breast meat and skin, roasted, ½ breast5180

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the FDA to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin A is 5,000 IU for adults and children age 4 and older. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

[Source 11)]

Beta Carotene

Beta-carotene is a red-orange pigment found in plants and fruits, especially carrots and colorful vegetables. It is the yellow/orange pigment that gives vegetables and fruits their rich colors.

Carotene is an orange photosynthetic pigment important for photosynthesis. It is responsible for the orange colour of the carrot and many other fruits and vegetables. It contributes to photosynthesis by transmitting the light energy it absorbs to chlorophyll. Chemically, carotene is a terpene. It is the dimer of retinol (vitamin A) and comes in two primary forms: alpha- and beta-carotene. Gamma-, delta- and epsilon-carotene also exist. Carotene can be stored in the liver and converted to vitamin A as needed.

Beta-carotene in itself is not an essential nutrient, but vitamin A is.

Beta-carotene is a carotenoid that is a precursor of vitamin A and the human body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A (retinol). We need vitamin A for healthy skin and mucus membranes, our immune system, and good eye health and vision.

Beta-carotene, like all carotenoids, is an antioxidant. An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules; it protects the body from free radicals.

Free radicals damage cells through oxidation. Eventually, the damage caused by free radicals can cause several chronic illnesses.

Several studies have shown that antioxidants through diet help people’s immune systems, protect against free radicals, and lower the risk of developing cancer and heart disease.

Some studies have suggested that those who consume at least four daily servings of beta-carotene rich fruits and/or vegetables have a lower risk of developing cancer or heart disease.

Beta-carotene may also slow down cognitive decline. Men who have been taking beta-carotene supplements for 15 or more years are considerably less likely to experience cognitive decline than other males, researchers from Harvard Medical School reported in Archives of Internal Medicine.

beta carotene rich foods

Thiamin (Vitamin B1)

Thiamin (or thiamine) is one of the water-soluble B vitamins. It is also known as vitamin B1. Thiamin is naturally present in some foods, added to some food products, and available as a dietary supplement. This vitamin plays a critical role in energy metabolism and, therefore, in the growth, development, and function of cells 12).

Thiamin (also called vitamin B1) helps turn the food you eat into the energy you need. Thiamin is important for the growth, development, and function of the cells in your body.

Table 3: Selected Food Sources of Thiamine
FoodMilligrams
(mg) per
serving
Percent
DV*
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 100% of the DV for thiamin, 1 serving1.5100
Rice, white, long grain, enriched, parboiled, ½ cup1.473
Egg noodles, enriched, cooked, 1 cup0.533
Pork chop, bone-in, broiled, 3 ounces0.427
Trout, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces0.427
Black beans, boiled, ½ cup0.427
English muffin, plain, enriched, 1 muffin0.320
Mussels, blue, cooked, moist heat, 3 ounces0.320
Tuna, Bluefin, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces0.213
Macaroni, whole wheat, cooked, 1 cup0.213
Acorn squash, cubed, baked, ½ cup0.213
Rice, brown, long grain, not enriched, cooked, ½ cup0.17
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice0.17
Orange juice, prepared from concentrate, 1 cup0.17
Sunflower seeds, toasted, 1 ounce0.17
Beef steak, bottom round, trimmed of fat, braised, 3 ounces0.17
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 1 cup0.17
Oatmeal, regular and quick, unenriched, cooked with water, ½ cup0.17
Corn, yellow, boiled, 1 medium ear0.17
Milk, 2%, 1 cup0.17
Barley, pearled, cooked, 1 cup0.17
Cheddar cheese, 1½ ounces00
Chicken, meat and skin, roasted, 3 ounces00
Apple, sliced, 1 cup00

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for thiamine is 1.5 mg for adults and children age 4 and older. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

[Source 13)]

Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)

Riboflavin (also called vitamin B2) is one of the B vitamins, which are all water soluble and it’s important for the growth, development, and function of the cells in your body. It also helps turn the food you eat into the energy you need.

More than 90% of dietary riboflavin is in the form of flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) or flavin mononucleotide (FMN); the remaining 10% is comprised of the free form and glycosides or esters 14), 15). Most riboflavin is absorbed in the proximal small intestine 16). The body absorbs little riboflavin from single doses beyond 27 mg and stores only small amounts of riboflavin in the liver, heart, and kidneys. When excess amounts are consumed, they are either not absorbed or the small amount that is absorbed is excreted in urine 17).

Bacteria in the large intestine produce free riboflavin that can be absorbed by the large intestine in amounts that depend on the diet. More riboflavin is produced after ingestion of vegetable-based than meat-based foods 18).

Riboflavin is yellow and naturally fluorescent when exposed to ultraviolet light 19). Moreover, ultraviolet and visible light can rapidly inactivate riboflavin and its derivatives. Because of this sensitivity, lengthy light therapy to treat jaundice in newborns or skin disorders can lead to riboflavin deficiency. The risk of riboflavin loss from exposure to light is the reason why milk is not typically stored in glass containers 20), 21).

Table 4: Selected Food Sources of Riboflavin
FoodMilligrams
(mg) per
serving
Percent
DV*
Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces2.9171
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 100% of the DV for riboflavin, 1 serving1.7100
Oats, instant, fortified, cooked with water, 1 cup1.165
Yogurt, plain, fat free, 1 cup0.635
Milk, 2% fat, 1 cup0.529
Beef, tenderloin steak, boneless, trimmed of fat, grilled, 3 ounces0.424
Clams, mixed species, cooked, moist heat, 3 ounces0.424
Mushrooms, portabella, sliced, grilled, ½ cup0.318
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce0.318
Cheese, Swiss, 3 ounces0.318
Rotisserie chicken, breast meat only, 3 ounces0.212
Egg, whole, scrambled, 1 large0.212
Quinoa, cooked, 1 cup0.212
Bagel, plain, enriched, 1 medium (3½”–4” diameter)0.212
Salmon, pink, canned, 3 ounces0.212
Spinach, raw, 1 cup0.16
Apple, with skin, 1 large0.16
Kidney beans, canned, 1 cup0.16
Macaroni, elbow shaped, whole wheat, cooked, 1 cup0.16
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice0.16
Cod, Atlantic, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces0.16
Sunflower seeds, toasted, 1 ounce0.16
Tomatoes, crushed, canned, ½ cup0.16
Rice, white, enriched, long grain, cooked, ½ cup0.16
Rice, brown, long grain, cooked, ½ cup00

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for riboflavin is 1.7 mg for adults and children age 4 and older. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

[Source 22)]

Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)

Vitamin B6 includes a group of closely related compounds: pyridoxine, pyridoxal, and pyridoxamine. Substantial proportions of the naturally occurring pyridoxine in fruits, vegetables, and grains exist in glycosylated forms that exhibit reduced bioavailability 23). The body needs vitamin B6 for more than 100 enzyme reactions involved in metabolism. They are metabolized in the body to pyridoxal phosphate, which acts as a coenzyme in many important reactions in blood, CNS, and skin metabolism. Vitamin B6 is important in heme and nucleic acid biosynthesis and in lipid, carbohydrate, and amino acid metabolism. Vitamin B6 is also involved in brain development during pregnancy and infancy as well as immune function.

Vitamin B6 in coenzyme forms performs a wide variety of functions in the body and is extremely versatile, with involvement in more than 100 enzyme reactions, mostly concerned with protein metabolism. Both pyridoxal 5’ phosphate and pyridoxamine 5’ phosphate are involved in amino acid metabolism, and pyridoxal 5’ phosphate is also involved in the metabolism of one-carbon units, carbohydrates, and lipids 24). Vitamin B6 also plays a role in cognitive development through the biosynthesis of neurotransmitters and in maintaining normal levels of homocysteine, an amino acid in the blood 25). Vitamin B6 is involved in gluconeogenesis and glycogenolysis, immune function (for example, it promotes lymphocyte and interleukin-2 production), and hemoglobin formation 26).

The human body absorbs vitamin B6 in the jejunum. Phosphorylated forms of the vitamin are dephosphorylated, and the pool of free vitamin B6 is absorbed by passive diffusion 27).

Table 5: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin B6
FoodMilligrams (mg) per servingPercent DV*
Chickpeas, canned, 1 cup1.155
Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces0.945
Tuna, yellowfin, fresh, cooked, 3 ounces0.945
Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 3 ounces0.630
Chicken breast, roasted, 3 ounces0.525
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 25% of the DV for vitamin B60.525
Potatoes, boiled, 1 cup0.420
Turkey, meat only, roasted, 3 ounces0.420
Banana, 1 medium0.420
Marinara (spaghetti) sauce, ready to serve, 1 cup0.420
Ground beef, patty, 85% lean, broiled, 3 ounces0.315
Waffles, plain, ready to heat, toasted, 1 waffle0.315
Bulgur, cooked, 1 cup0.210
Cottage cheese, 1% low-fat, 1 cup0.210
Squash, winter, baked, ½ cup0.210
Rice, white, long-grain, enriched, cooked, 1 cup0.15
Nuts, mixed, dry-roasted, 1 ounce0.15
Raisins, seedless, ½ cup0.15
Onions, chopped, ½ cup0.15
Spinach, frozen, chopped, boiled, ½ cup0.15
Tofu, raw, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate, ½ cup0.15
Watermelon, raw, 1 cup0.15

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin B6 is 2 mg for adults and children age 4 and older. However, the FDA does not require food labels to list vitamin B6 content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

[Source 28)]

Vitamin B12 (Cyanocobalamin)

Vitamin B12 is also known as Cyanocobalamin is a nutrient that helps keep the body’s nerve and blood cells healthy and helps make DNA, the genetic material in all cells. Vitamin B12 also helps prevent a type of anemia called megaloblastic anemia that makes people tired and weak.

Vitamin B12 is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement and a prescription medication. Vitamin B12 exists in several forms and contains the mineral cobalt 29), 30), 31), 32), so compounds with vitamin B12 activity are collectively called “cobalamins”. Methylcobalamin and 5-deoxyadenosylcobalamin are the forms of vitamin B12 that are active in human metabolism 33).

Two steps are required for the body to absorb vitamin B12 from food.

  • First, food-bound vitamin B12 is released in the stomach’s acid environment (hydrochloric acid and and gastric protease in the stomach separate vitamin B12 from the protein to which vitamin B12 is attached in food) and is bound to R protein (haptocorrin) 34). When synthetic vitamin B12 is added to fortified foods and dietary supplements, it is already in free form and thus, does not require this separation step.
  • Second, pancreatic enzymes cleave this B12 complex (B12-R protein) in the small intestine. After cleavage, intrinsic factor (a protein made by the stomach), secreted by parietal cells in the gastric mucosa, binds with the free vitamin B12. Intrinsic factor is required for absorption of vitamin B12, which takes place in the terminal ileum 35), 36). Approximately 56% of a 1 mcg oral dose of vitamin B12 is absorbed, but absorption decreases drastically when the capacity of intrinsic factor is exceeded (at 1–2 mcg of vitamin B12) 37). Some people have pernicious anemia, a condition where they cannot make intrinsic factor. As a result, they have trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from all foods and dietary supplements.

Several food sources of vitamin B12 are listed in Table 6.

Table 6: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin B12

FoodMicrograms (mcg)
per serving
Percent DV*
Clams, cooked, 3 ounces84.11,402
Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces70.71,178
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 100% of the DV for vitamin B12, 1 serving6.0100
Trout, rainbow, wild, cooked, 3 ounces5.490
Salmon, sockeye, cooked, 3 ounces4.880
Trout, rainbow, farmed, cooked, 3 ounces3.558
Tuna fish, light, canned in water, 3 ounces2.542
Cheeseburger, double patty and bun, 1 sandwich2.135
Haddock, cooked, 3 ounces1.830
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 25% of the DV for vitamin B12, 1 serving1.525
Beef, top sirloin, broiled, 3 ounces1.423
Milk, low-fat, 1 cup1.218
Yogurt, fruit, low-fat, 8 ounces1.118
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce0.915
Beef taco, 1 soft taco0.915
Ham, cured, roasted, 3 ounces0.610
Egg, whole, hard boiled, 1 large0.610
Chicken, breast meat, roasted, 3 ounces0.35

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers determine the level of various nutrients in a standard serving of food in relation to their approximate requirement for it. The DV for vitamin B12 is 6.0 mcg. However, the FDA does not require food labels to list vitamin B12 content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

[Source 38)]

Folate (Vitamin B9)

Folate is also known vitamin B9 (Folacin, Folic Acid, Pteroylglutamic acid) that is naturally present in many foods.

Folic Acid is a form of folate that is manufactured and used in dietary supplements and fortified foods 39).

Our bodies need folate to make DNA and other genetic material. Folate is also needed for the body’s cells to divide.

Folic acid and folate also help your body make healthy new red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to all the parts of your body. If your body does not make enough red blood cells, you can develop anemia. Anemia happens when your blood cannot carry enough oxygen to your body, which makes you pale, tired, or weak. Also, if you do not get enough folic acid, you could develop a type of anemia called folate-deficiency anemia. (source 40)).

Folate-deficiency anemia is most common during pregnancy. Other causes of folate-deficiency anemia include alcoholism and certain medicines to treat seizures, anxiety, or arthritis.

Everyone needs folic acid. Our bodies use it to make new cells.

In women and pregnant mothers, folic acid is very important because it can help prevent some major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine (anencephaly and spina bifida). (Source 41)).

Every woman needs folic acid every day, whether she’s planning to get pregnant or not, for the healthy new cells the body makes daily. Think about the skin, hair, and nails. These – and other parts of the body – make new cells each day.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urges women to take 400 mcg of folic acid every day, starting at least one month before getting pregnant and while she is pregnant, to help prevent major birth defects of the baby’s brain and spine.

Folate is naturally present in many foods and food companies add folic acid to other foods, including bread, cereal, and pasta. You can get recommended amounts by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Leafy Green Vegetables (especially asparagus, Brussels sprouts, and dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach and mustard greens).
  • Fruits and fruit juices (especially oranges and orange juice).
  • Nuts, beans, and peas (such as peanuts, black-eyed peas, and kidney beans).
  • Grains (including whole grains; fortified cold cereals; enriched flour products such as bread, bagels, cornmeal, and pasta; and rice).
  • Folic acid is added to many grain-based products, enriched breads, cereals and corn masa flour (used to make corn tortillas and tamales, for example). To find out whether folic acid has been added to a food, check the product label.

Beef liver is high in folate but is also high in cholesterol, so limit the amount you eat. Only small amounts of folate are found in other animal foods like meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, and dairy products.

Table 7. Selected Food Sources of Folate and Folic Acid

Foodmcg DFE
per serving
Percent DV*
Beef liver, braised, 3 ounces21554
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup13133
Black-eyed peas (cowpeas), boiled, ½ cup10526
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 25% of the DV†10025
Rice, white, medium-grain, cooked, ½ cup†9023
Asparagus, boiled, 4 spears8922
Spaghetti, cooked, enriched, ½ cup†8321
Brussels sprouts, frozen, boiled, ½ cup7820
Lettuce, romaine, shredded, 1 cup6416
Avocado, raw, sliced, ½ cup5915
Spinach, raw, 1 cup5815
Broccoli, chopped, frozen, cooked, ½ cup5213
Mustard greens, chopped, frozen, boiled, ½ cup5213
Green peas, frozen, boiled, ½ cup4712
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup4612
Bread, white, 1 slice†4311
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce4110
Wheat germ, 2 tablespoons4010
Tomato juice, canned, ¾ cup369
Crab, Dungeness, 3 ounces369
Orange juice, ¾ cup359
Turnip greens, frozen, boiled, ½ cup328
Orange, fresh, 1 small297
Papaya, raw, cubed, ½ cup277
Banana, 1 medium246
Yeast, baker’s, ¼ teaspoon236
Egg, whole, hard-boiled, 1 large226
Vegetarian baked beans, canned, ½ cup154
Cantaloupe, raw, 1 wedge144
Fish, halibut, cooked, 3 ounces123
Milk, 1% fat, 1 cup123
Ground beef, 85% lean, cooked, 3 ounces72
Chicken breast, roasted, ½ breast31

* DV = Daily Value. The FDA developed DVs to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for folate is 400 mcg for adults and children aged 4 and older. However, the FDA does not require food labels to list folate content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

† Fortified with folic acid as part of the folate fortification program.

[Source 42)]

Vitamin C

Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid or ascorbate, is a water-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Vitamin C is synthesized from D-glucose or D-galactose by many plants and animals. However, humans lack the enzyme L-gulonolactone oxidase required for ascorbic acid synthesis and must obtain vitamin C through food or supplements 43), 44). In the body, it acts as an antioxidant, helping to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are compounds formed when our bodies convert the food we eat into energy. People are also exposed to free radicals in the environment from cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet light from the sun.

The intestinal absorption of vitamin C is regulated by at least one specific dose-dependent, active transporter 45). Cells accumulate vitamin C via a second specific transport protein. In vitro studies have found that oxidized vitamin C, or dehydroascorbic acid, enters cells via some facilitated glucose transporters and is then reduced internally to ascorbic acid. The physiologic importance of dehydroascorbic acid uptake and its contribution to overall vitamin C economy is unknown.

Vitamin C plays a role in collagen, carnitine, hormone, and amino acid formation. It is essential for wound healing and facilitates recovery from burns. Vitamin C is also an antioxidant, supports immune function, and facilitates the absorption of iron 46). High-Dose vitamin C, when taken by intravenous (IV) infusion, vitamin C can reach much higher levels in the blood than when it is taken by mouth. Studies suggest that these higher levels of vitamin C may cause the death of cancer cells in the laboratory. Surveys of healthcare practitioners at United States complementary and alternative medicine conferences in recent years have shown that high-dose IV vitamin C is frequently given to patients as a treatment for infections, fatigue, and cancers, including breast cancer 47).

Vitamin C is required for the biosynthesis of collagen, L-carnitine, and certain neurotransmitters; vitamin C is also involved in protein metabolism 48), 49). Collagen is an essential component of connective tissue, which plays a vital role in wound healing. Vitamin C is also an important physiological antioxidant 50) and has been shown to regenerate other antioxidants within the body, including alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E) 51). Ongoing research is examining whether vitamin C, by limiting the damaging effects of free radicals through its antioxidant activity, might help prevent or delay the development of certain cancers, cardiovascular disease, and other diseases in which oxidative stress plays a causal role. In addition to its biosynthetic and antioxidant functions, vitamin C plays an important role in immune function 52) and improves the absorption of nonheme iron 53), the form of iron present in plant-based foods. Insufficient vitamin C intake causes scurvy, which is characterized by fatigue or lassitude, widespread connective tissue weakness, and capillary fragility 54), 55), 56), 57), 58), 59), 60).

Table 8: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin C
FoodMilligrams (mg) per servingPercent (%) DV*
Red pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup95158
Orange juice, ¾ cup93155
Orange, 1 medium70117
Grapefruit juice, ¾ cup70117
Kiwifruit, 1 medium64107
Green pepper, sweet, raw, ½ cup60100
Broccoli, cooked, ½ cup5185
Strawberries, fresh, sliced, ½ cup4982
Brussels sprouts, cooked, ½ cup4880
Grapefruit, ½ medium3965
Broccoli, raw, ½ cup3965
Tomato juice, ¾ cup3355
Cantaloupe, ½ cup2948
Cabbage, cooked, ½ cup2847
Cauliflower, raw, ½ cup2643
Potato, baked, 1 medium1728
Tomato, raw, 1 medium1728
Spinach, cooked, ½ cup915
Green peas, frozen, cooked, ½ cup813

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin C is 60 mg for adults and children aged 4 and older. The FDA requires all food labels to list the percent DV for vitamin C. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

[Source 61)]

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. It is also produced endogenously when ultraviolet rays from sunlight strike the skin and trigger vitamin D synthesis. Vitamin D obtained from sun exposure, food, and supplements is biologically inert and must undergo two hydroxylations in the body for activation 62). The first occurs in the liver and converts vitamin D to 25-hydroxyvitamin D [25(OH)D], also known as calcidiol. The second occurs primarily in the kidney and forms the physiologically active 1,25-dihydroxyvitamin D [1,25(OH)2D], also known as calcitriol 63).

Vitamin D is a nutrient found in some foods that is needed for health and to maintain strong bones. It does so by helping the body absorb calcium (one of bone’s main building blocks) from food and supplements. People who get too little vitamin D may develop soft, thin, and brittle bones, a condition known as rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults.

Vitamin D is important to the body in many other ways as well. Muscles need it to move, for example, nerves need it to carry messages between the brain and every body part, and the immune system needs vitamin D to fight off invading bacteria and viruses. Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis. Vitamin D is found in cells throughout the body.

Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption in the gut and maintains adequate serum calcium and phosphate concentrations to enable normal mineralization of bone and to prevent hypocalcemic tetany. It is also needed for bone growth and bone remodeling by osteoblasts and osteoclasts 64), 65). Without sufficient vitamin D, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Vitamin D sufficiency prevents rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults 66). Together with calcium, vitamin D also helps protect older adults from osteoporosis.

Vitamin D has other roles in the body, including modulation of cell growth, neuromuscular and immune function, and reduction of inflammation 67), 68), 69). Many genes encoding proteins that regulate cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis are modulated in part by vitamin D 70). Many cells have vitamin D receptors, and some convert 25(OH)D to 1,25(OH)2D.

Table 9: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin D
FoodIUs per serving*Percent DV**
Cod liver oil, 1 tablespoon1,360340
Swordfish, cooked, 3 ounces566142
Salmon (sockeye), cooked, 3 ounces447112
Tuna fish, canned in water, drained, 3 ounces15439
Orange juice fortified with vitamin D, 1 cup (check product labels, as amount of added vitamin D varies)13734
Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D-fortified, 1 cup115-12429-31
Yogurt, fortified with 20% of the DV for vitamin D, 6 ounces (more heavily fortified yogurts provide more of the DV)8020
Margarine, fortified, 1 tablespoon6015
Sardines, canned in oil, drained, 2 sardines4612
Liver, beef, cooked, 3 ounces4211
Egg, 1 large (vitamin D is found in yolk)4110
Ready-to-eat cereal, fortified with 10% of the DV for vitamin D, 0.75-1 cup (more heavily fortified cereals might provide more of the DV)4010
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce62

* IUs = International Units.
** DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help consumers compare the nutrient contents among products within the context of a total daily diet. The DV for vitamin D is currently set at 400 IU for adults and children age 4 and older. Food labels, however, are not required to list vitamin D content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

[Source 71)]

Vitamin E

Naturally occurring vitamin E exists in eight chemical forms (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol) that have varying levels of biological activity 72). Alpha- (or α-) tocopherol is the only form that is recognized to meet human requirements, but beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherols, 4 tocotrienols, and several stereoisomers may also have important biologic activity. These compounds act as antioxidants, which prevent lipid peroxidation of polyunsaturated fatty acids in cellular membranes 73).

Serum concentrations of vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) depend on the liver, which takes up the nutrient after the various forms are absorbed from the small intestine.

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that stops the production of reactive oxygen species formed when fat undergoes oxidation. Scientists are investigating whether, by limiting free-radical production and possibly through other mechanisms, vitamin E might help prevent or delay the chronic diseases associated with free radicals.

Antioxidants protect cells from the damaging effects of free radicals, which are molecules that contain an unshared electron. Free radicals damage cells and might contribute to the development of cardiovascular disease and cancer 74). Unshared electrons are highly energetic and react rapidly with oxygen to form reactive oxygen species. The body forms reactive oxygen species endogenously when it converts food to energy, and antioxidants might protect cells from the damaging effects of reactive oxygen species. The body is also exposed to free radicals from environmental exposures, such as cigarette smoke, air pollution, and ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Reactive oxygen species are part of signaling mechanisms among cells.

The body also needs vitamin E to boost its immune system so that it can fight off invading bacteria and viruses. It helps to widen blood vessels and keep blood from clotting within them.

In addition to its activities as an antioxidant, vitamin E is involved in immune function and, as shown primarily by in vitro studies of cells, cell signaling, regulation of gene expression, and other metabolic processes 75). Alpha-tocopherol inhibits the activity of protein kinase C, an enzyme involved in cell proliferation and differentiation in smooth muscle cells, platelets, and monocytes 76). Vitamin-E–replete endothelial cells lining the interior surface of blood vessels are better able to resist blood-cell components adhering to this surface. Vitamin E also increases the expression of two enzymes that suppress arachidonic acid metabolism, thereby increasing the release of prostacyclin from the endothelium, which, in turn, dilates blood vessels and inhibits platelet aggregation 77).

Table 10: Selected Food Sources of Vitamin E (Alpha-Tocopherol)
FoodMilligrams (mg)
per serving
Percent DV*
Wheat germ oil, 1 tablespoon20.3100
Sunflower seeds, dry roasted, 1 ounce7.437
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce6.834
Sunflower oil, 1 tablespoon5.628
Safflower oil, 1 tablespoon4.625
Hazelnuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce4.322
Peanut butter, 2 tablespoons2.915
Peanuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce2.211
Corn oil, 1 tablespoon1.910
Spinach, boiled, ½ cup1.910
Broccoli, chopped, boiled, ½ cup1.26
Soybean oil, 1 tablespoon1.16
Kiwifruit, 1 medium1.16
Mango, sliced, ½ cup0.74
Tomato, raw, 1 medium0.74
Spinach, raw, 1 cup0.63

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the FDA to help consumers compare the nutrient content of different foods within the context of a total diet. The DV for vitamin E is 30 IU (approximately 20 mg of natural alpha-tocopherol) for adults and children age 4 and older. However, the FDA does not require food labels to list vitamin E content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient, but foods providing lower percentages of the DV also contribute to a healthful diet.

[Source 78)]

Iron

Iron is a mineral that our bodies need for many functions. In the human body, iron is present in all cells and has several vital functions — as a carrier of oxygen to the tissues from the lungs in the form of hemoglobin (Hb), as a facilitator of oxygen use and storage in the muscles as myoglobin, as a transport medium for electrons within the cells in the form of cytochromes, and as an integral part of enzyme reactions in various tissues. Too little iron can interfere with these vital functions and lead to morbidity and mortality 79), 80).

In adults, the recommended dietary allowance of iron is 8 to 11 mg per day for men and 8 to 18 mg for women in whom higher levels are recommended during pregnancy (27 mg per day) 81). Iron is poorly absorbed and body and tissue iron stores are controlled largely by modifying rates of absorption. Adequate amounts of iron are found in most Western diets, with highest levels found in red meats and moderate levels in fish, poultry, green vegetables, cereals and grains (some of which are fortified with iron).

Your body needs the right amount of iron. If you have too little iron, you may develop iron deficiency anemia. Iron deficiency is usually due to loss of iron, predominantly as a result of blood loss in the gastrointestinal tract or from menstruation and is rarely due to deficiency in intake or an inability to absorb enough iron from foods. People at higher risk of having too little iron are young children and women who are pregnant or have periods.

What foods provide iron ?

Iron is found naturally in many foods and is added to some fortified food products. You can get recommended amounts of iron by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Lean meat, seafood, and poultry.
  • Iron-fortified breakfast cereals and breads.
  • White beans, lentils, spinach, kidney beans, and peas.
  • Nuts and some dried fruits, such as raisins.

Iron in food comes in two forms: heme iron and nonheme iron. Nonheme iron is found in plant foods and iron-fortified food products. Meat, seafood, and poultry have both heme and nonheme iron.

Heme iron has higher bioavailability than nonheme iron, and other dietary components have less effect on the bioavailability of heme than nonheme iron 82). The bioavailability of iron is approximately 14% to 18% from mixed diets that include substantial amounts of meat, seafood, and vitamin C (ascorbic acid, which enhances the bioavailability of nonheme iron) and 5% to 12% from vegetarian diets 83). In addition to ascorbic acid, meat, poultry, and seafood can enhance nonheme iron absorption, whereas phytate (present in grains and beans) and certain polyphenols in some non-animal foods (such as cereals and legumes) have the opposite effect 84). Unlike other inhibitors of iron absorption, calcium might reduce the bioavailability of both nonheme and heme iron. However, the effects of enhancers and inhibitors of iron absorption are attenuated by a typical mixed western diet, so they have little effect on most people’s iron status.

Several food sources of iron are listed in Table 11. Some plant-based foods that are good sources of iron, such as spinach, have low iron bioavailability because they contain iron-absorption inhibitors, such as polyphenols 85).

Your body absorbs iron from plant sources better when you eat it with meat, poultry, seafood, and foods that contain vitamin C, like citrus fruits, strawberries, sweet peppers, tomatoes, and broccoli.

Table 11: Selected Food Sources of Iron

FoodMilligrams
per serving
Percent DV*
Breakfast cereals, fortified with 100% of the DV for iron, 1 serving18100
Oysters, eastern, cooked with moist heat, 3 ounces844
White beans, canned, 1 cup844
Chocolate, dark, 45%–69% cacao solids, 3 ounces739
Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces528
Lentils, boiled and drained, ½ cup317
Spinach, boiled and drained, ½ cup317
Tofu, firm, ½ cup317
Kidney beans, canned, ½ cup211
Sardines, Atlantic, canned in oil, drained solids with bone, 3 ounces211
Chickpeas, boiled and drained, ½ cup211
Tomatoes, canned, stewed, ½ cup211
Beef, braised bottom round, trimmed to 1/8” fat, 3 ounces211
Potato, baked, flesh and skin, 1 medium potato211
Cashew nuts, oil roasted, 1 ounce (18 nuts)211
Green peas, boiled, ½ cup16
Chicken, roasted, meat and skin, 3 ounces16
Rice, white, long grain, enriched, parboiled, drained, ½ cup16
Bread, whole wheat, 1 slice16
Bread, white, 1 slice16
Raisins, seedless, ¼ cup16
Spaghetti, whole wheat, cooked, 1 cup16
Tuna, light, canned in water, 3 ounces16
Turkey, roasted, breast meat and skin, 3 ounces16
Nuts, pistachio, dry roasted, 1 ounce (49 nuts)16
Broccoli, boiled and drained, ½ cup16
Egg, hard boiled, 1 large16
Rice, brown, long or medium grain, cooked, 1 cup16
Cheese, cheddar, 1.5 ounces00
Cantaloupe, diced, ½ cup00
Mushrooms, white, sliced and stir-fried, ½ cup00
Cheese, cottage, 2% milk fat, ½ cup00
Milk, 1 cup00

* DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for iron is 18 mg for adults and children age 4 and older. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

[Source 86)]

Selenium

Selenium is a trace element that is naturally present in many foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. Selenium, which is nutritionally essential for humans, is a constituent of more than two dozen selenoproteins that play critical roles in reproduction, thyroid hormone metabolism, DNA synthesis, and protection from oxidative damage and infection 87).

Selenium exists in two forms:

  • inorganic (selenate and selenite) and
  • organic (selenomethionine and selenocysteine) 88).

Both forms can be good dietary sources of selenium 89). Soils contain inorganic selenites and selenates that plants accumulate and convert to organic forms, mostly selenocysteine and selenomethionine and their methylated derivatives.

Selenium is important for reproduction, thyroid gland function, DNA production, and protecting the body from damage caused by free radicals and from infection 90), 91). Selenium is incorporated into selenoproteins that have a wide range of pleiotropic effects, ranging from antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to the production of active thyroid hormone 92). In the past 10 years, the discovery of disease-associated polymorphisms in selenoprotein genes has drawn attention to the relevance of selenoproteins to health. Low selenium status has been associated with increased risk of mortality, poor immune function, and cognitive decline. Higher selenium status or selenium supplementation has antiviral effects, is essential for successful male and female reproduction, and reduces the risk of autoimmune thyroid disease. Prospective studies have generally shown some benefit of higher selenium status on the risk of prostate, lung, colorectal, and bladder cancers, but findings from trials have been mixed, which probably emphasises the fact that supplementation will confer benefit only if intake of a nutrient is inadequate. Supplementation of people who already have adequate intake with additional selenium might increase their risk of type-2 diabetes. The crucial factor that needs to be emphasised with regard to the health effects of selenium is the inextricable U-shaped link with status; whereas additional selenium intake may benefit people with low status, those with adequate-to-high status might be affected adversely and should not take selenium supplements.

Table 12: Selected Food Sources of Selenium

FoodMicrograms
(mcg) per
serving
Percent
DV*
Brazil nuts, 1 ounce (6–8 nuts)544777
Tuna, yellowfin, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces92131
Halibut, cooked, dry heat, 3 ounces4767
Sardines, canned in oil, drained solids with bone, 3 ounces4564
Ham, roasted, 3 ounces4260
Shrimp, canned, 3 ounces4057
Macaroni, enriched, cooked, 1 cup3753
Beef steak, bottom round, roasted, 3 ounces3347
Turkey, boneless, roasted, 3 ounces3144
Beef liver, pan fried, 3 ounces2840
Chicken, light meat, roasted, 3 ounces2231
Cottage cheese, 1% milkfat, 1 cup2029
Rice, brown, long-grain, cooked, 1 cup1927
Beef, ground, 25% fat, broiled, 3 ounces1826
Egg, hard-boiled, 1 large1521
Puffed wheat ready-to-eat cereal, fortified, 1 cup1521
Bread, whole-wheat, 1 slice1319
Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian, 1 cup1319
Oatmeal, regular and quick, unenriched, cooked with water, 1 cup1319
Spinach, frozen, boiled, 1 cup1116
Milk, 1% fat, 1 cup811
Yogurt, plain, low fat, 1 cup811
Lentils, boiled, 1 cup69
Bread, white, 1 slice69
Spaghetti sauce, marinara, 1 cup46
Cashew nuts, dry roasted, 1 ounce34
Corn flakes, 1 cup23
Green peas, frozen, boiled, 1 cup23
Bananas, sliced, 1 cup23
Potato, baked, flesh and skin, 1 potato11
Peaches, canned in water, solids and liquids, 1 cup11
Carrots, raw, 1 cup00
Lettuce, iceberg, raw, 1 cup00

*DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for selenium is 70 mcg for adults and children aged 4 and older. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient. The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA’s) Nutrient Database Web site 93) lists the nutrient content of many foods and provides a comprehensive list of foods containing selenium arranged by nutrient content and by food name.

[Source 94)]

Selenium is found naturally in many foods. The amount of selenium in plant foods depends on the amount of selenium in the soil where they were grown. The amount of selenium in animal products depends on the selenium content of the foods that the animals ate. You can get recommended amounts of selenium by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

  • Seafood
  • Meat, poultry, eggs, and dairy products
  • Breads, cereals, and other grain products.

Zinc

Zinc is involved in numerous aspects of cellular metabolism. It is required for the catalytic activity of approximately 100 enzymes, including many nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NADH) dehydrogenases, RNA and DNA polymerases, and DNA transcription factors as well as alkaline phosphatase, superoxide dismutase, and carbonic anhydrase 95), 96) and it plays a role in immune function 97), 98), protein synthesis 99), wound healing 100), DNA synthesis 101), 102) and cell division 103). Zinc also supports normal growth and development during pregnancy, childhood, and adolescence 104), 105), 106) and is required for proper sense of taste and smell 107). A daily intake of zinc is required to maintain a steady state because the body has no specialized zinc storage system 108).

Most Americans get enough zinc from the foods they eat.

Table 13: Selected Food Sources of Zinc
FoodMilligrams (mg)
per serving
Percent DV*
Oysters, cooked, breaded and fried, 3 ounces74.0493
Beef chuck roast, braised, 3 ounces7.047
Crab, Alaska king, cooked, 3 ounces6.543
Beef patty, broiled, 3 ounces5.335
Breakfast cereal, fortified with 25% of the DV for zinc, ¾ cup serving3.825
Lobster, cooked, 3 ounces3.423
Pork chop, loin, cooked, 3 ounces2.919
Baked beans, canned, plain or vegetarian, ½ cup2.919
Chicken, dark meat, cooked, 3 ounces2.416
Yogurt, fruit, low fat, 8 ounces1.711
Cashews, dry roasted, 1 ounce1.611
Chickpeas, cooked, ½ cup1.39
Cheese, Swiss, 1 ounce1.28
Oatmeal, instant, plain, prepared with water, 1 packet1.17
Milk, low-fat or non fat, 1 cup1.07
Almonds, dry roasted, 1 ounce0.96
Kidney beans, cooked, ½ cup0.96
Chicken breast, roasted, skin removed, ½ breast0.96
Cheese, cheddar or mozzarella, 1 ounce0.96
Peas, green, frozen, cooked, ½ cup0.53
Flounder or sole, cooked, 3 ounces0.32

* DV = Daily Value. DVs were developed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to help consumers compare the nutrient contents of products within the context of a total diet. The DV for zinc is 15 mg for adults and children age 4 and older. Food labels, however, are not required to list zinc content unless a food has been fortified with this nutrient. Foods providing 20% or more of the DV are considered to be high sources of a nutrient.

[Source 109)]

References   [ + ]