As parents, we do a lot to make sure our kids are feeling happy and healthy. When it comes to vitamins and minerals, conflicting information on what we need, why we need what we need and where to find what we need abounds. If you're not quite sure where to start, here is a list of 6 crucial vitamins and minerals that help keep mom and child feeling great.
Vitamin A helps to preserve and improve eyesight, as well as boost the immune system and help fight off viral infections. The true vitamin is only found in foods from animals, like beef liver, milk and eggs, however, many fruits and vegetables contain cartenoids, like beta carotene, that can be converted into vitamin A. Try carrots, spinach, sweet potoatoes or red bell peppers for a snack that is rich in this important nutrient.
B vitamin complex
B vitamins are key for the growth and development of the body, as well as the daily activity of many bodily functions. They help to turn food into energy and may even reduce the risk of cancer. B vitamins are water soluble, so they need to be replenished on a daily basis. You can find your B's in plant and animal sources – eggs, meat, poultry, fish and milk are all good sources of B3, B5, B6, B7 and B12. B1, B2 and B9 are found in green leafy vegetables and whole grains.
Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is an immune boosting, water soluble vitamin that is necessary to form collagen in bones, cartilage, muscle and blood vessels. It also helps the body to absorb iron. It may also help to decrease the risk of developing asthma and acts as an antioxidant to decrease inflammation and prevent cell damage. Citrus fruits are a well-known source for this vitamin, but healthy doses are also available in broccoli, red peppers, strawberries and pineapple.
Calcium is an extremely important mineral for the body – especially in growing children. Your body needs it to maintain strong bones, support muscle function, secrete hormones and enzymes and to send messages through the nervous system. Women also need more calcium to help prevent osteoporosis. Though milk, yogurt and cheese are the main food sources of calcium for many people, kale, broccoli and Chinese cabbage are wonderful plant sources of the mineral. It is also added to many fortified breakfast cereals, fruit juices, soy products and rice milk.
Without this vitamin, your body cannot absorb calcium. In addition, your immune system needs vitamin D to fight off viruses and bacteria. Also, recent research suggests that it may help to prevent allergies and juvenile diabetes. Few foods naturally contain vitamin D, but many are fortified with it. Mushrooms provide some vitamin D, but salmon, tuna and mackerel are all better sources. Also, the body makes vitamin D when skin is directly exposed to the sun. Nearly three-quarters of US teens and adults are vitamin D deficient. Symptoms of a deficiency may include muscle pain, low energy or fatigue.
Iron is a mineral that is essential for maintaining good health and is important for your child's growth. It is required for the development of strong muscles and for the production of blood. The World Health Organization considers iron deficiency the number one nutritional disorder in the world. In fact, almost 80% of the world's population may be deficient. Typically, the absorption of iron from meat, chicken and fish is higher than from other sources, though it can be found in foods that are fortified with the mineral, such as cereals, bread, rice and pasta.
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