Article #17: Vitamins and Supplements
Did You Know?
Certain vitamins and minerals can be maximized by other vitamins and even by certain activities.
Which of the following do you think work well together?
a. Vitamin C (from things like oranges) and Iron
(from things like beef or spinach).
b. Exposure to the sun and Vitamin D production.
c. Calcium (Cheese, Milk) and load-bearing exercise
(like push-ups or lifting weights).
d. All of the above.
Combining foods and/or activities in these ways help your body maintain maximum health.
Your body needs vitamins and nutrients in a tiny amount. But keeping track of the alphabet soup of all that your body needs is tricky. They come from so many sources that you would make yourself nuts trying to get each and every one separately. The key is to eat “nutrient dense” foods that give you a wide variety of vitamins and minerals for the least amount of calories. Truth is, eating the right foods will give you what you need, but it helps to know what’s in the good stuff too.
Nutrient dense foods include eggs, beans, peas, seeds and nuts (that is because everything needed to make a healthy new chicken or plant is contained there); green leafy vegetables, richly-colored fruits and vegetables such as melons, berries, mangos, papaya, peppers, squash, spinach, avocados; low-fat dairy products like skim or low-fat milk, yogurt, and part skim cheeses; and fish, skinless poultry and lean meats.
Two nutrients teens often run short of are CALCIUM and IRON. Without calcium, bones can become weak and prone to fractures. Without iron, people become anemic and feel tired all of the time.
Only in your teen years do you easily absorb Calcium. About 90% is accumulated before you are 20 years old and it must last your lifetime. To get the most calcium into your bones you need four conditions present at the same time:
- Hormones (they arrive naturally in your early teen years!)
- Calcium source (Milk, yogurt, ice cream, fortified orange juice and broccoli, or calcium chews if you don't like/can't eat dairy products)
- Weight-bearing exercise (walking or running, weight training, most sports except swimming, etc.)
- Vitamin D (egg yolks, Vitamin D fortified milk, fish oil, or skin exposure to 10 minutes of sunlight or more per day)
Girls needs more iron after puberty and so do guys to build body mass. The trouble is, most iron sources, such as red meat, carry a lot of saturated fat with them. If you eat mostly fish and chicken, you might be deficient in iron. Iron rich foods that come with healthy fat or no fat include all kinds of beans, peas, lentils, dark green vegetables, tofu and shellfish. Foods with Vitamin C (oranges) help the body to absorb iron.
Research shows that vitamins and minerals are best absorbed from real foods, not pills. Always follow recommended daily allowances as too much of a good thing is often not so good. Let your family doctor guide you when it comes to adding supplements to your regular diet.
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