Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamins and minerals are essential for every human being, at any age, to survive. They help our bodies grow and make them strong so they can fight diseases. Vitamins are also essential for healthy skin, hair, and nails. Many foods, especially fruits and vegetables, are filled with vitamins. The vitamins found in food have been proven to prevent some diseases, such as cancer and maybe even AIDS. The most important vitamins are: Vitamin A, D, E, K, C Thiamine Riboflavin Niacin Pantothenic acid Biotin Folate (folic acid) Vitamin B6 Vitamin B12 For most people, a diet which follows the food pyramid provides all the vitamins needed for good health. However, if a teen is eating below 1500 calories a day (which may be unhealthy unless ordered by a doctor) a low- dose vitamin- mineral supplement may be necessary.
Minerals are also essential for proper body function. They help regulate the bodyís water balance and provide structure and functioning as part of hormones, enzymes, and vitamins. There is a very delicate balance of minerals in our bodies, each person requiring a certain amount, and therefore eating a variety of foods is the best way to get all of them. A basic chart of RDAís (recommended daily allowances) is at the bottom of the page for a 16 year old male and female. Eating a variety of foods is the best way to get all the minerals necessary. Very important minerals in our bodies are calcium, sodium, and iron. But there are a total of approximately 60 minerals in our body. Calcium is the most important mineral in bone building and strong bones. Excellent sources of calcium are the dairy products, such as milk and cheese. It is important to get enough calcium between the teen years and the yearly thirties, when bone building is at its peak. Calcium is especially important for women because it helps prevent osteoporosis after menopause. Your doctor may recommend calcium supplements, such as Tums, to keep bones strong. Salt is the most common source of sodium. However, sodium is contained in almost all foods. Because of the hidden sodium in foods that donít even taste salty, many people get too much sodium. Refer to the RDA charts for recommended amount of sodium for an average teenager. Excess sodium may cause high blood pressure. The last of the three most important minerals, iron, is needed to make hemoglobin in the blood. The Meat group is the best source of iron but iron supplements are also available. Women who menstruate and eat less than a 1500 calorie diet may want to take iron supplements. Men are far less likely to lack in iron. A deficiency in iron may lead to anemia. Symptoms of anemia include paleness and fatigue. Blood tests are needed to confirm the diagnosis.