Optimal Micronutrient Ratios

Hello everyone,

So I’m sure most of you know that each vitamin and mineral can influence each other and compete for absorption. The generally accepted solution to this complexity seems to be a bit of a trial and error, with blood tests used to detect any serious problem before damage done. One common line of logic is that, in the worst case, we’re still better off than the standard unhealthy diet of a college student, etc.

I agree with that in principle, and for the most part we still have to wait for research to find all the answers to these issues. But there are some things that we apparently do know about now, and it would be a pitty not to apply that knowledge to get a more optimal set of DRIs and ULs. I’ve seen some of these mentioned here on the forums and I’d like to propose we dump everything we know in one place (Unless it’s already being done somewhere I couldn’t find)

For now, we’ve found this (will be updated as information is gathered):

These are the implications:

  • Phosphorus
    • The DRI of 700mg seems to be a good starting point for all that follows
    • UL should be dropped from 4000mg to 1900mg because anything more than 1900 would push your recommended minimum calcium past its upper limit.
    • This makes the acceptable phosphorus window somewhat narrow. I’m finding that the closer to 700 it is, the easier everything else is to balance. So phosphorus is rather important to keep low.
  • Calcium
    • DRI should be close to 1.3x Phosphorus
  • Magnesium
    • DRI should be 0.5x Calcium
    • UL should be 1x Calcium
  • Potassium
    • DRI should be 2x Sodium (no UL)
  • Zinc
    • DRI should be 10x Copper
    • UL should be 15x Copper
  • Iron
    • If there is any phytic acid (>10s of mg /day), the initial USDA DRI should be raised to 24mg for men, 36mg for women
    • 3xDRI for men (only 2x for women to keep safely under the UL) based on USDA recommendations for vegetarians (page 332)
    • Also, increase Vitamin C to at least 100mg / meal. (300mg) This part may be critical for women during menstruation.
    • DRI should be at least 10x Copper
    • UL should be the lowest of:
      • 17x Copper
      • 2x Zinc (should always be higher if Zinc recommendations are followed)
  • Phytic Acid
  • UL should be ((Zn[mg] / 1000) / 65.4) x 15 x 660 (preferably significantly lower)
  • Omega-3 Fatty acids
  • DRI should be Omega-6 total / 2.3
  • UL should be 1x Omega-6
  • Omega-6
  • One recommendation is for an UL of ((Calorie budget * 0.04) / 9)
    • Likely most useful if the ratio to Omega-3 cannot be met

I’ve made a spreadsheet, where the DRIs and ULs dynamically adjust with cross references. All the ratios are tracked on the top right.


This post covers Na:K ratios in some detail:


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Cool! We can add that. I found this which backs that up.

Also, the 4:1 calcium:magnesium ratio appears to be a bit outdated. The current consensus appears to be somewhere between 1:1 and 2:1. I’ll update the main post with this info.

That makes the whole balancing act rather challenging when you consider the upper limit of magnesium from supplementation is 350mg. Add to that the fact that most magnesium rich foods appear to also be phosphorus rich, which raises the required magnesium further to keep the ratio.

However, it seems that if you’re splitting the magnesium up throughout the day and not getting a big concentrated dose all at once, then there’s no problem… one of us may have to end up testing that, but it makes sense logically if magnesium “from food” is safe; we may be able to consider soylent food for that purpose.


Why not consider intaking these minerals at different times of the day (or alternate days) so that they do not interfere with each others’ absorption?

I had a mild issue of hypocalcaemia earlier this summer and I attributed it to regular intake of magnesium.


Calcium absorption is also inhibited by fibre, phytates, oxalates and unabsorbed fatty acids. It’s enhanced by Vitamin D, sugars and protein.

Magnesium absorption is enhanced by carbohydrates (+ vitamin D) and inhibited by the same stuff that inhibits Calcium.

So one could couple carbs with magnesium in the morning and calcium with protein in the evening etc


Yeah, that is a supposed benefit of getting food from various sources, and perhaps it is an inevitable requirement that will become obvious once the soylent testers hit 1 year or 2 years or more. But I think it’s worth trying to shoot for a simple one-stop-shop solution.

Of course, if something like hypocalcaemia or some other problem like that pops up, doctors will recommend specific deviations from normal ratios of minerals to compensate; and I’m sure they’d recommend exactly what you are in that case. Hopefully someday we can rely on a soylent machine to mix the exact ratios that we personally need based on our genetics, age, weight, health, activities, time of day, etc.

@Chris_Tanti said:
Calcium absorption is also inhibited by fibre, phytates, oxalates and unabsorbed fatty acids. It’s enhanced by Vitamin D, sugars and protein.
Magnesium absorption is enhanced by carbohydrates (+ vitamin D) and inhibited by the same stuff that inhibits Calcium.

That’s great! Do you have any numbers?

Zinc Copper Iron and Manganese appear to form another set of interdependent minerals.

The only numbers I can find are that the zinc-copper ratio should be between 10:1 to 15:1. From reading these, I get the impression there may be some breathing room depending on the levels of Iron and Manganese and whether or not you’re close to the UL for Zinc of 40μg.

We need numbers for the rest if they exist. How could there not be one resource with all of this information yet?

This could be a reason why whole foods are good for you because they physically separate the nutrients, so deletorious reactions simply don’t happen.

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Thank a lot! I’m going to re-post my picture here showing all nutrient interactions, too, if you don’t mind.

In the newer DRIs the RDA for phosphorus was in fact dropped to 700mg.

Also, calcium, magnesium and other bulk minerals share a common metabolic pathway for uptake. So the solution of taking micros at different times is valid.

My whole foods recipe only meets 2/4 of these recommendations, but I’d never thought of the physical separation side of it.

Can you figure out the interactions for the rest of these?
A - indicates that the nutrient on the non-pointy side of the arrow negatively affects absorption of the nutrient on the point side of the arrow and a + represents a positive effect on uptake.

EFAs are essential fatty acids.

Keep in mind that these effects are probably there to maintain homeostasis, so whether or not we really need to adjust our intake to match I’m not sure.

I forgot to put a + or - on the zinc -> copper one so I’m not sure what the effect is there.


Wow, that’s incredibly thorough. Thanks! This will help direct the search for hard numbers a great deal.

The zinc-copper interaction is mutually deleterious. If the ratio is higher than 15:1 in favor of zinc, then copper will be inhibited. If it’s significantly less than 8:1, then copper will inhibit zinc. The only reliable source I can find states the optimal ratio is 10:1, but I’ve seen anecdotal claims that that is incorrect and 8:1 is actually optimal.

The involvement of Iron and Manganese makes things a bit messy too… Iron will deplete zinc past a ratio of 2:1 in favor of Iron. I haven’t found numbers on the Iron-copper relationship or the Manganese-anything relationship yet.

…the solution of taking micros at different times is valid.

Absolutely. I hope I didn’t give the impression I was dismissing @Chris_Tanti’s point on that. What I want to know is that if we do take everything at once, what ratios would make the staggering unnecessary in general for any healthy person. Or is that even possible, considering everyone has different specific needs.

An alternative to this approach would be to define a set of 3 nutrient sub-DRIs. A breakfast-lunch-dinner profile that gives you what you need in waves that have minimal negative interactions and maximum positive interactions. But that would require 3 different recipes, which I’m personally not as motivated to push for.

This could be a reason why whole foods are good for you because they physically separate the nutrients, so deletorious reactions simply don’t happen.

Are there vitamin/mineral combinations that actually react with each other, even outside the GI tract? As I understand the problem, at least for what I’ve seen so far, it’s not that they necessarily directly react with each other, but that the absorption occurs with the same resources in the GI tract. So whether they’re physically separated or not, if they arrive together, they still compete. Hence the importance of staggering, or getting the right ratios if they arrive together.


Yep, the problem at least with the minerals, is that they all share a common metabolic pathway for absorption.

I really can’t wait to see what the results of this are though. If we start with a well-established RDA like (1200mg) calcium, and build our way through the interactions to find the best ratios, we may even get a more accurate RDA for each nutrient.

When I have some time in the future I’m going to create something like I have above for every common metabolic pathway in the human system. I want to create a mathematical model for ‘perfect’ health.


A quick note when researching for ratio information. There is a difference between the ideal ratios for ingestion vs the ideal ratios to be measured from parts of the body (such as hair samples), to diagnose health issues.

The body needs a 2:1 potassium:sodium ratio in our diet, but the way the body processes these minerals are different, so healthy individuals will have the inverse ratio in their hair. Try not to get them mixed up. I’ve almost posted bad information a couple times.

The link above is easy to confuse as a treasure trove of good data.


I’m not sure I you already thought of this, but wouldn’t the ration be messed up anyway as you are consuming it throughout the day and not in on big serving? Or is the ratio important before consumption, like just after you make it.

Thinking about ratios instead of absolute amounts is important precisely because with soylent we drink a little bit at a time throughout the day. We’re only eating one thing and there is no variation between what we eat in the morning and evening.

With a varied diet, it’s possible to get a bunch of copper at once with no zinc, and then a bunch of zinc at once with no copper later on. In that case, there would be much less competition for GI resources, and the ratio would be less important. With a highly varied diet, a lot of potential problems of deleterious interactions get masked by the fact that the body is resilient and gets more efficient at absorbing minerals as any deficiency kicks in.

As long as you mix your soylent homogenously, and assuming you actually crush up your supplements and put it into the drink itself, then however much you drink - a little bit at a time throughout the day, 3 big helpings, or all of it at once - for minerals, the ratios might even be more important than the DRIs.

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NO. Potassium actually is highly necessary; most folks fail to intake enough. HOWever, it can be over-done.
The amounts or RDA’s of nutrients are not adequately tested.
Humans are laregely deficient in all minerals, particularly magnesium, which is best tested using a red blood cell assay–testing serum magnesium is wrong.
Testing in vivo levels differs from testing cadaver levels, which many levels are based on. Live levels vary depending on what “compartment” levels are tested in.
Potassium can be used to compensate, to some extent, for excess salt intake.
Kelp or sea veggies can provide about all a person’s mineral needs, but few other foods can do that.
Too much potassium can cause signs and symptoms similar to those in peple who are deficient.
Good hydraton and proper nutrient intake proportions, can help many serious health conditions–like using special diets like the “LCHF” or “ketogenic” diet…Soylent is NOT that.
There are pretty firm Minimum RDA’s for protein and for good fats.
There are NO minimum RDA’s for carbs.
That is because your body can burn fats to provide energy, that makes energy producton more stable.
It burns and stores carbs rabidly, as these are so easily burned and stored.
It is preferred NOT to burn proteins to make energy to run the body.
Using a diet that is high protein, and low fat, is likely the cause of so many being deficient in Vitamin D, and developing so many new cases of IBS, Chron’s, etc., as well as many other ills–including the sweeping numbers of mental and emotional imbalance issues.
We are designed to need to consume good fats, in quantity…Carbs are only needed if one is burning LOTS of calories fast, such as in high-intensity sports–even those carbs are not necessarily needed, if the person gets lots of good fats, instead…the body will burn them preferentially.
And we really need minerals–not just some, but MANY.