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Vitamins and Minerals

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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

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 B 9 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)
vitamin A good vision carrots, spinach, milk, eggs 600 μg (1 μg = 1 × 10 -6 g)
vitamin B 1 healthy nerves whole wheat, peas, meat, beans, fish, peanuts 0.9 mg (1 mg = 1 × 10 -3 g)
vitamin B 3 healthy skin and nerves beets, liver, pork, turkey, fish, peanuts 12 mg
vitamin B 9 red blood cells liver, peas, dried beans, leafy green vegetables 300 μg
vitamin B 12 healthy nerves meat, liver, milk, shellfish, eggs 1.8 μg
vitamin C growth and repair of tissues oranges, grapefruits, red peppers, broccoli 45 mg
vitamin D healthy bones and teeth milk, salmon, tuna, eggs 5 μg
vitamin 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 B 12 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

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.

Minerals have many important roles in the body. For example, calcium and phosphorus are needed for strong bones and teeth. Potassium and sodium are needed for muscles and nerves to work normally.

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.

Vocabulary

  • mineral : Chemical element, such as calcium or potassium, that is needed for body processes.
  • vitamin : Organic compound needed in small amounts for the body to function properly.

Summary

  • 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.

Practice

Use the resource below to answer the questions that follow.

  1. Why is calcium so important to teenagers? What are sources of calcium?
  2. Why is it important to have enough iron in your diet? What vitamin helps you utilize iron?
  3. Why is vitamin D so important to teenagers? What are good sources of vitamin D?

Review

  1. List two vitamins and their roles in the body.
  2. List two minerals and their roles in the body.

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