Vitamins and minerals: how to get enough in your Indian diet?

Nutrition advice for people of Indian subcontinent on how to get enough of healthy foodstuff, to avoid nutritional deficiencies and to get better heart health.

Vitamin and mineral deficiency in Indians

Vitamin and deficiencies are quite common in the Indian population, as per the data of National Institute of Nutrition. Iron deficiency anaemia is the commonest among mineral deficiencies, Iodine, and calcium intake is also lower than recommended. Among the vitamins, vitamin D and B12 deficiencies have gained a lot of attention, but subclinical deficiencies of vitamin A, B complex and C is also common as per ICMR reports

So, what can you do? The two things you should do are: first, try to ensure adequate intake in the diet and second: check whether you need supplements to avoid or correct existing deficiencies

Find below concise information on what foodstuff can help you get enough of vitamins and minerals

Increase dietary intake to get enough of vitamins and minerals
1.Nutrients that are commonly consumed less than required in Indian dietary patterns
Nutrient RDA Rich sources Amount per serving of rich source
Iron 17 mg/day for men and 21 mg/day for women Non milk protein sources 1/2 cup dal gives ~ 2 mg

2 oz meat gives ~ 2mg

1/4th block tofu gives 2 mg

1 egg gives 0.6 mg

Fruits and vegetables Dark green leafy vegetables gives ~ 1.2 mg per serving (1/2 cup cooked/1 cup raw)
Other vegetables give ~ 0.5 mg per serving (1/2 cup)
Fruit-mix, on average give ~ 1.3 mg per serving (100gm)
Nuts Nut-mix gives ~ 1.1 mg per 1 oz serving
Calcium Indian RDA is 600 mg, but USDA RDA is 1200 mg/day Milk/curd 1 cup of cow’s milk or packaged milk/curd give 240 mg

1 cup buffalo milk gives 420 mg

Dark green leafy vegetables 1 serving gives ~ 100 mg
Tofu ¼ block gives nearly ~ 200 mg
Soya chunks/granules 30 gms (dry weight) gives ~ 100 mg
Vitamin A Indian RDA 600 mcg (2000 IU), USDA  RDA is 700 mcg for women and 900 mcg for men Vegetables Dark green leafy vegetables

1/2 cup cooked spinach gives ~ 2500 mcg

1/ cup cooked red-orange vegetables gives ~ 660 mcg

Sweet potato ½ cup mashed gives ~ 5700 mcg
Eggs 1 egg gives 85 mcg
Milk 1 glass toned milk gives 65 mcg whereas full cream gives 130 mcg
Vitamin B1 /Thiamin ranges from 1.1-1.4 mg/day Rich sources are pulses, animal meat 1 serving of dal and meat give nearly 0.17 mg
Whole grains and vegetables also of grains gives 0.07 mg
Vitamin B2 /Riboflavin ranges from 1.1-1.6 mg/day B2: Milk and egg are very rich source 1 cup milk gives 0.45 mg and 1 egg gives 0.25 mg
Vitamin B3/ Niacin ranges from 12-16 mg/day Cereals ½ cup cooked gives ~ 1mg
Animal meats 2 oz meat gives ~ 1mg
Vegetables ½ cup cooked gives ~ 1mg
Pulses ½ cup cooked gives ~ 0.6 mg
Vitamin B6/ pyridoxine ranges from 1.3-2 mg/day B6: cereals, dal, animal meat and nuts 1 serving of each gives ~ 0.15 mg
Folate Indian RDA is 200 mcg, USDA RDA is 400 mcg/day Pulses ½ cup cooked gives ~ 140 mcg
Animal meats 2 oz gives ~ 110 mcg
Dark green leafy vegetables ½ cup cooked spinach gives nearly ~ 120 mcg
Vitamin B12 Indian RDA is 1 mcg, USDA RDA is 2.4 mcg/day Eggs 1 egg gives 0.6 mcg
Milk 1 glass gives 0.3 mcg
Animal meats 2 oz cooked meat gives 0.2 mcg
Vitamin D NIN, India recommends  exposure to bright sunlight at least for 5 min per day, of exposed skin (face, arms and legs without sunscreen)

If even that is no possible dietary RDA is 400 mcg

USDA RDA is 600 mcg/day

Fortified food such as milk, oil or breakfast cereals
Iodine 150 mcg/day Iodised salt ~ 90 mcg in 1 teaspoon salt (6 gms),

But cooking losses could be 20-40%, so add salt at the end of cooking, if possible

2.Nutrients that are not found deficient in Indian diet, but whose even higher consumption is protective for lifestyle diseases
Nutrient RDA Rich sources Amount per serving
Omega 3 fatty acids Minimum 0.5% of total calories ~ 0.6-1.7 gms/day for 1000-3000 calorie diets Oils:

Mustard oil

Canola oil

Soybean oil

1 tablespoon oil gives

2 gms

2.8 gms

1 gm




Mustard seeds

1 tablespoon will give

2.5 gms

0.28 gms

0.55 gms




14 halves gives 1.4 gm

22 almonds give 0.1 gm


Oily (more than 5% fat)

Less oily fish

2 oz serving gives 0.56 gms

2 oz serving gives .1-.3 gms

Potassium Indian RDA for men 3750 mg, for women 3225 mg

US RDA is 4700 mg/day

Milk 1 cup gives ~ 300 mg
Starchy vegetables ½ cup cooked gives ~ 300 mg
Animal meats 2 oz gives ~ 250 mg
days 2 oz gives nearly ~ 250 mg
Magnesium For men:

Indian RDA is 340 mg and US RDA is 420 mg

For women: 310-320 mg/day

Dark green leafy vegetables ½ cup cooked gives ~ 150 mg
Nuts 1 oz gives ~ 60 mg
Oats ½ cup cooked gives ~ 75 mg
Soy products ¼ block tofu gives ~ 40 mg

While trying to ensure good intake of vitamins and minerals in diet is good, you should also check out if you are at risk of deficiency of some of them and need supplements. Check out, supplements: should you be taking any

CHECK OUT: Our references for recommendations on diet