What do vitamins do?
You have heard of different kinds of vitamins and minerals, but what do they really do? Why are they so important? When you read this, you will also see that whole grains, fruits and vegetables are really important. Check this out:
Vitamin A can help you build your immune system which means you can fight off infections better and catch fewer viruses. It may also help your vision, including night vision. It is also important for your teeth and bones.
What foods have Vitamin A? You can get it from fish, eggs, oil, liver and fortified dairy products
What happens if you don’t get enough? You may experience worse vision – especially at night, dry eyes and skin. You can’t fight infection off as well. It can also mean less growth for children.
There are several types of Vitamin B. Some are know by other names as well. Here they are:
Vitamin B1/Thiamine (B complex)
Thiamine is important for the nervous system to function properly. It also helps muscles, including your heart, function properly. You need thiamine for body growth and development. It also helps your body metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats.
What foods have vitamin B1/Thiamine? You can get it from meats, beans, nuts, whole grains and enriched cereals and breads.
What happens if you don’t get enough? You can feel tired, depressed, or nauseous. You could get headaches or muscle cramps.
Vitamin B2/Riboflavin is needed for normal cell function and growth. It helps red blood cells form and tissues form. It helps with nervous system functioning and may help with migraine headaches. B2 helps the body metabolize proteins, fats and carbohydrates, and makes energy (metabolic processes).
What foods have vitamin B2/Riboflavin? Milk and dairy products; green leafy vegetables, whole grains and organ meats.
What happens if you don’t get enough? You can feel weak and tired. Your body can’t metabolize vitamins like B6, niacin, folic acid and vitamin K well.
Vitamin B3/ Niacin is necessary for normal growth and development. It helps produce energy and regulates your genes.
What foods have vitamin B3/Niacin? There are 2 types of Niacin – nicotinic acid which mainly comes from plants, like legumes and yeast, and Niacinamide which mainly comes from animal sources like red meat and poultry.
What happens if you don’t get enough? Over time you can have gastrointestinal disorders (stomach problems) and dermatitis. You could also get diarrhoea or mouth sores.
Vitamin B6 helps the body make proteins and produce insulin, haemoglobin and antibodies to fight infection. B6 helps your body metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Your nervous and immune systems need B6 to work right. It helps to make red blood cells and tissue.
What foods have vitamin B6? B6 is found in meats, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits (except for citrus), starchy vegetables (peas, white potatoes, etc.) and fortified cereals.
What happens if you don’t get enough? It can lead to seizures, convulsions and depression. You can also get skin inflammation (dermatitis), anaemia or nausea.
Vitamin B9/ Folic Acid/Folate is important for growth and development. It helps your digestive intestinal track work well and stay healthy. It helps your body form red blood cells and metabolize proteins.
What foods have vitamin B9? You can find it in dark green leafy vegetables, oranges, broccoli, asparagus, cauliflower, lentils, pinto beans, garbanzo beans and organ meats.
What happens if you don’t get enough? You could get an upset stomach (gastrointestinal), diarrhea, or anemia. It is important for moms-to-be to have folic acid because it can help the baby develop normally and reduce the risks of birth defects of the brain and spine.
Vitamin B12 is necessary for your nervous system to work properly and to give you energy. It also works with folate (another essential) to build important genetic material DNA and RNA synthesis.
What foods have vitamin B6? Eggs, dairy products, clams, oysters, crabs, salmon, sardines, and organ meats like liver, kidney, and brain.
What happens if you don’t get enough? You can feel weak, tired or get anaemia. Your body needs it to metabolize proteins, carbohydrates and fats. Can lead to neurological disease.
Vitamin C is important for your teeth and gums. It also helps your immune system and may help prevent some cancers and heart disease. It is important for your tissue and joint health, bones, cartilage and tendons. Helps your body absorb iron, metabolize fats and proteins.
What foods have vitamin C? Foods like citrus fruits, green vegetables, strawberries, peppers, potatoes, and cauliflower.
What happens if you don’t get enough? Your wounds will heal slower; you could bruise easier or have joint pain. You may also feel weak or fatigued.
Vitamin D is very important for your bones and teeth. It helps your body absorb and regulates calcium.
What foods have vitamin D? Vitamin D is found in egg yolks, fatty fish, liver, and fortified dairy products.
What happens if you don’t get enough? Helps moods that vary with seasons. Your body can’t absorb calcium and phosphorus as well, and you may develop problems with your bones or teeth when you get older.
Vitamin E is important to keep your skin, muscles, nerves and red blood cells healthy. It protects the cells and boosts your immune system.
What foods have vitamin D? Foods like corn, whole grain cereals, vegetable oil, soya bean and wheat germ.
What happens if you don’t get enough? You can have problems with your neurological system or get anaemia. You might get more infections without it.
Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting and helps maintain bones.
What foods have vitamin K? Green leafy vegetables, vegetable oil, liver, help seeds and fish meal.
What happens if you don’t get enough? You can bruise easily and break bones easier. Helps clot (stop bleeding) blood when you get injured.
Calcium is important for your bones and teeth. It also helps your muscles, nerves, heart, glands, and blood. It helps you produce energy and fight off infections. Helps your blood clot.
What foods have Calcium? Milk, cheese, yogurt, dark green leafy vegetables, nuts, dried beans and sardines.
What happens if you don’t get enough? Calcium is really important in growing bodies for your teeth and bones, and they won’t develop as well without it. You may have a higher risk of colon cancer or blood pressure.
Iron is important to help your red blood cells carry oxygen to your tissues. It also helps cell growth.
What foods have iron? Iron is found in poultry, red meats, whole grains, nuts and peas.
What happens if you don’t get enough? You can feel tired or get headaches. You can get iron deficiency anemia. You may also get short of breath when you are working out. It is important to get enough iron, but not good to get too much.
Magnesium is important for your body’s biological processes – like tissue formation for your soft tissues, bones and muscles. Helps regulate your heartbeat and your nerve transmissions. Helps your body absorb some other minerals and metabolize fats, carbohydrates and proteins.
What foods have magnesium? You can find magnesium in green leafy vegetables, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
What happens if you don’t get enough? You can feel nausea or muscle weakness, twitching or irritable. It may also help bring blood pressure down and help regular heartbeats.
You can see why it is so important to have a healthy diet with a wide variety of good foods. It will help keep your body strong – especially as it is growing & developing.
Luckily, scurvy – a disease that many sailors had back in Christopher Columbus’ time – doesn’t exist anymore. The sailors weren’t eating any fresh fruits or vegetables in their long voyages at sea – so their teeth, hair, etc. would all start to fall out