Essential micronutrients are of two types: vitamins and minerals. Vitamins are organic compounds of various kinds required by the body in small quantities. Minerals are heavy, elemental substances which the body requires.

The RDAs and AIs of the essential vitamins and minerals may be found here.{{dead link}}

Besides merely consuming adequate amounts of the vitamins and minerals, it is also necessary to absorb adequate amounts of what is consumed. The absorption of a preponderance of what is consumed is by no means guaranteed. There are few different things which may affect the level of absorption. A few of them are as follows.

  1. Different forms of a vitamin or mineral may be absorbed better than others. For instance, potassium gluconate is better absorbed than potassium citrate.
  2. Two vitamins or minerals may be absorbed through the same channel, thus competing to be absorbed and interfering with each other's absorption. For instance, calcium and phosphorus are in this relationship with each other.
  3. Various substances, called antinutrients, may interfere with the absorption of vitamins and minerals. The most famous of these is phytic acid, a substance which occurs in grains, nuts, and legumes, and interferes with the absorption of many minerals, including zinc, iron, phosphorus, calcium, and magnesium.
  4. A person may absorb a vitamin or mineral better if they have less of it already in their system.

The question posed by (1) is, which forms of the various vitamins and minerals are best absorbed? This question has not been addressed in sufficient detail in the complete foods community, and is a place where this guide could benefit from expansion.

For (2), a remedy is to present the competing vitamins and minerals in optimum ratios relative to each other. What ratios are "optimal" is again a question that the complete foods community has yet to discuss in detail. Another solution can be using two (or more) different recipes for separate meals.

For (3), there are a number of possible solutions. One way is to refrain from using ingredients containing the antinutrients. Another way is to attempt to deactivate the antinutrients. In the case of phytic acid (the only antinutrient that has been extensively discussed by the complete foods community so far), possible ways of deactivating it are to soak the PA-containing food overnight (possibly ineffective), to cook it (probably more effective), to sprout it (probably more effective), or to make use of the enzyme phytase (potentially, but not necessarily, 100% effective).

A third way of addressing (3) is to attempt to provide enough of the nutrients affected by the antinutrient to offset its effects. Rob and @nwthomas have previously suggested that the amount of phytic acid present in a typical complete food recipe might be easily offset by providing sufficiently generous quantities of the affected minerals. My arguments to this effect, and the counterarguments the community provided, can be found here. Another solution can be using two (or more) different recipes for separate meals.

Overall, the topic of optimizing micronutrient absorption has not been addressed sufficiently in the DIY complete foods community. Most of us know little about it, and few recipes consider it seriously at all.

In any case, that is all we will say on vitamins and minerals. Having finished with essential micronutrients, we turn our attention to nonessential micronutrients.