A-Z of vitamins and minerals
What is RDI - Recommended Dietary Intake
The RDI’s on food labels are based on the needs of adults rather than children. The table below provides the RDI's for children for vitamins and minerals often found on food labels.
Recommended daily intakes for children
|1 – 3 years||4 – 8 years||9 – 13 years||14 – 18 years|
|Folate||150 µg||200 µg||300 µg||400 µg|
|Vitamin B1 (thiamine)||0.5 mg||0.6 mg||0.9mg||1.1 -1.2 mg|
|Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)||0.5 mg||0.6 mg||0.9 mg||1.1 – 1.3 mg|
|Vitamin B3 (niacin)||6 mg||8 mg||12 mg||14 - 16 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0.5 mg||0.6 mg||1.0 mg||1.2 – 1.3 mg|
|Vitamin C||35 mg||35 mg||40 mg||40 mg|
|Iron||9 mg||10 mg||9 mg||
11 mg (boys)
15 mg (girls)
|Calcium||500 mg||700 mg||1000 - 1300 mg||1300 mg|
|Zinc||3.0 mg||4 mg||6 mg||
13 mg (boys)
7 mg (girls)
Reference: NH&MRC Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand
The B-group vitamins
The B-group vitamins are also known as the “vitamin B complex” and include vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B6, folate, vitamin B12 and biotin.
Folate is needed for the growth and development of cells and is especially important for women in their childbearing years. It is found naturally in leafy green vegetables, citrus fruits, wholegrain cereals, nuts and liver. The RDI for adults is 400 micrograms per day, and this increases to 600 micrograms per day for women who are planning to become pregnant or are in the first trimester of pregnancy.
Vitamin B1 (thiamin)
Thiamin helps release energy from food. Food sources include yeast extract, wheatgerm, wheat bran, nuts, liver, kidney, lean pork, beans, wholemeal flour, wholemeal bread, sesame seeds and some breakfast cereals. The adult RDI for thiamin is 1.2mg for men and 1.1mg for women.
Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)
Riboflavin helps release energy from food. Food sources include milk, cheese, yoghurt, yeast extract, meat extract, liver, eggs, almonds, mushrooms, wholemeal flour, wholemeal bread, green vegetables and many breakfast cereals. The adult RDI is 1.3mg for men and 1.1mg for women.
Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Niacin helps release energy from food. Food sources include lean meat, liver, yeast, wheat bran, peanuts, tuna, salmon, kidney, pulses, some breakfast cereals, eggs, vegetables and milk. The adult RDI is 16mg for men and 14mg for women.
Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine)
Vitamin B6 helps build new body proteins. Protein is important for the growth and maintenance of healthy muscles when combined with a balanced diet and regular exercise. Food sources include lean meat, liver, poultry, fish, yeast, soy beans, nuts, wholegrains (brown rice, wholemeal breads, barely), vegetables, fruit (bananas and rockmelon) and some breakfast cereals. The adult RDI is 1.3 - 1.7mg for men and 1.3 - 1.5mg for women.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant, which helps protect the body’s cells. Vitamin C also helps your body absorb iron – specifically the type of iron found mainly in plant foods. It also helps keep gums and teeth healthy. Food sources include most fruits (especially citrus fruits and some berries), and most vegetables (especially broccoli, spinach and cabbage). Some breakfast cereals also contain vitamin C. The adult RDI for vitamin C is 45mg for men and women.
Iron is a major part of the red blood cells in the body. It is needed to help carry oxygen around the body for daily activity. Iron is especially important for women. Vitamin C increases the absorption of the type of iron found in plant foods. Food sources include red meat, liver, fish, poultry, leafy green vegetables, eggs, legumes and breakfast cereals with iron. The adult RDI for iron is 8mg for men and 18mg for women.
Calcium is needed for strong healthy bones. Best food sources are low fat dairy products including milk, yoghurt and cheese. Other sources include fish with edible bones (salmon, sardines), broccoli, figs, nuts and beans. Some foods have added calcium such as some breakfast cereals and soy products. The adult RDI for calcium is 1000mg for both men and women.
Zinc helps support healthy growth in children. Food sources include: oysters, red meat, legumes, fish, pork, poultry, and dairy products. Some foods like breakfast cereals are also a source of zinc. The adult RDI for zinc is 14mg for men and 8mg for women.
Salt is one of the oldest food ingredients used by people. It is used because of its taste, preservative effects and its role in bread making and fermentation.
How much salt should we eat? Scientists prefer to talk in terms of sodium, one of the two components of salt. The adequate intake of sodium is between 460 - 920mg per day, with the upper level being 2300mg.
Sodium is naturally found in foods and is also added to foods during manufacture or during cooking or baking. Salt preferences vary widely. Many people are now consuming less salt, while there are also people who prefer moderate amounts of salt in their diets.
Sodium in foods
Sodium is naturally present in some foods such as meat, fish, and milk. However, fruit, vegetables and grains generally have a low salt content.
Sodium is also added in food processing. If you wish to limit your salt intake, it helps to read food labels, as listing the sodium content on the nutrition information panel is mandatory.
Foods with a “low salt” content are those with a sodium level listed in the nutrition information panel as less than 120mg per 100g. “Moderate” sodium levels are 400mg per 100g.
Read more about kids' nutrition
- The a-z of vitamins and minerals
- Learn about the glycaemic Index
- Healthy food pyramid
- Iron and kids
- Calcium and kids
- Exercise for kids health
- Health and fitness for kids
- Nutrition information panels
- Eating for peak school performance
- Picky eaters
- How much fibre does my child need?
- Why fibre is fabulous
- All about fibre
Ready Set Learn
This article was supplied by the team of Nutritionists at Kellogg's for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading education resource for parents.