AUBURN, Ala.- -We hear so much about the value of vitamins and minerals in helping to improve our health — but how do we know what kind and how much is the right amount?
Sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals are essential because they perform hundreds of functions in the body. They help build strong bones, strengthen your immune system, give you energy, heal injuries, and repair cells.
Vitamins are substances that the body requires for development and growth. There are 13 vitamins that are needed by the body on a regular basis. These 13 essential vitamins are: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin K and the B vitamins, which are thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12.
According to Donna R. Shanklin, a Regional Extension Agent for Human Nutrition, Diet & Health: “You can usually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat. Your body can also make vitamins D and K,” said Shanklin. “The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. In some cases, you may need to take vitamin supplements. It’s a good idea to ask your health care provider first. High doses of some vitamins can cause problems.”
With so much depending upon their existence, it is essential you get these vitamins daily, and is actually much easier than some would think. Here are a few tips to insure you get what you need:
- Vitamin A – Eat a sweet potato, it provides more than 100% of the daily-recommended amount of vitamin A!
- Vitamin C – Make fresh fruit a part of every breakfast. A handful of strawberries or some cantaloupe provides the recommended daily amount of vitamin C.
- Vitamin E – Eat 2 handfuls of almonds.
Minerals are equally important to insure good health. Minerals are vital for building bones, producing hormones and regulating body functions such as your heartbeat. There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals are minerals your body needs in larger amounts. The macrominerals include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. Trace minerals, as the name implies, are only needed in small amounts, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine. These include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium, calcium and zinc. You also need calcium, magnesium, zinc. The best way to get sufficient amounts of these minerals is by eating a wide variety of foods. However, if your doctor finds them lacking, he/she may recommend a mineral supplement.
Some simple ways to incorporate minerals into your diet:
- Eat beef, chicken and fortified cereals to increase iron levels.
- Drink milk, eat spinach and beans to provide the calcium your body needs.
- Add more crab, beef and pork to insure proper amounts of zinc.
Bottom line? Incorporating the right amounts of vitamins and minerals into your diet is extremely important for your health. Although these nutrients are readily available through supplements, the easiest and most economical way to insure you are getting the right amount of what you need is by eating a balanced diet.