How do you get your vitamins?
You may take a vitamin pill. That is a good way to make sure you are getting most of the vitamins your body needs to grow. But the best way to get your vitamins is through eating a healthy diet.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are also nutrients. They do not provide energy, but they are needed for good health.
Vitamins are organic compounds that the body needs in small amounts to function properly. Humans need 13 different vitamins. Some of them are listed below (Table below). The table also shows how much of each vitamin you need every day. Vitamins have many roles in the body. For example, Vitamin A helps maintain good vision. Vitamin B9 helps form red blood cells. Vitamin K is needed for blood to clot when you have a cut or other wound.
|Vitamin||Necessary for||Available from||Daily Amount Required (at ages 9–13 years)|
|A||Good vision||Carrots, spinach, milk, eggs||600 μg (1 μg = 1 × 10-6 g)|
|B1||Healthy nerves||Whole wheat, peas, meat, beans, fish, peanuts||0.9 mg (1 mg = 1 × 10-3 g)|
|B3||Healthy skin and nerves||Beets, liver, pork, turkey, fish, peanuts||12 mg|
|B9||Red blood cells||Liver, peas, dried beans, leafy green vegetables||300 μg|
|B12||Healthy nerves||Meat, liver, milk, shellfish, eggs||1.8 μg|
|C||Growth and repair of tissues||Oranges, grapefruits, red peppers, broccoli||45 mg|
|D||Healthy bones and teeth||Milk, salmon, tuna, eggs||5 μg|
|K||Blood to clot||Spinach, brussels sprouts, milk, eggs||60 μg|
Some vitamins are produced in the body. For example, vitamin D is made in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight. Vitamins B12 and K are produced by bacteria that normally live inside the body. Most other vitamins must come from foods. Foods that are good sources of vitamins include whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and milk (Table above).
Not getting enough vitamins can cause health problems. For example, too little vitamin C causes a disease called scurvy. People with scurvy have bleeding gums, nosebleeds, and other symptoms.
Minerals are chemical elements that are needed for body processes. Minerals that you need in relatively large amounts are listed below (Table below). Minerals that you need in smaller amounts include iodine, iron, and zinc.
|Mineral||Necessary for||Available from||Daily Amount Required (at ages 9–13 years)|
|Calcium||Strong bones and teeth||Milk, soy milk, leafy green vegetables||1,300 mg|
|Chloride||Proper balance of water and salts in body||Table salt, most packaged foods||2.3 g|
|Magnesium||Strong bones||Whole grains, leafy green vegetables, nuts||240 mg|
|Phosphorus||Strong bones and teeth||Meat, poultry, whole grains||1,250 mg|
|Potassium||Muscles and nerves to work normally||Meats, grains, bananas, orange juice||4.5 g|
|Sodium||Muscles and nerves to work normally||Table salt, most packaged foods||1.5 g|
Your body cannot produce any of the minerals that it needs. Instead, you must get minerals from the foods you eat. Good sources of minerals include milk, leafy green vegetables, and whole grains (Table above).
Not getting enough minerals can cause health problems. For example, too little calcium may cause osteoporosis. This is a disease in which bones become soft and break easily. Getting too much of some minerals can also cause health problems. Many people get too much sodium. Sodium is added to most packaged foods. People often add more sodium to their food by using table salt. Too much sodium causes high blood pressure in some people.
- Vitamins and minerals do not provide energy but are needed in small amounts for the body to function properly.
- Some vitamins are produced in your body, while others must come from the foods you eat.
Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.
- Smart Nutrition at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3wL0BghxeHc (3:42)
- Why is calcium so important to teenagers? What are sources of calcium?
- Why is it important to have enough iron in your diet? What vitamin helps you utilize iron?
- Why is vitamin D so important to teenagers? What are good sources of vitamin D?
- What are vitamins?
- List two vitamins and their roles in the body.
- What are minerals?
- List two minerals and their roles in the body.