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Vitamins and Minerals

Have you ever seen a Popeye cartoon? Popeye would eat spinach and it would make him strong. He may have been a cartoon character, but he wasn’t wacky when it came to good health. Spinach, like many vegetables, contains many vitamins and minerals that play essential roles in keeping your body healthy. Your body cannot make vitamins and minerals on its own so you must get them from foods that you eat or from dietary supplements. If you eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods, you probably will get all the vitamins and minerals you need. If you’re concerned that you’re not getting enough vitamins and minerals, you should ask your doctor about whether you should take vitamin supplements.

Vitamin A is important for eyesight. It also keeps your skin healthy, helps your body fight infections, and plays a part when your bones grow. It’s found in foods such as carrots, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, squash, spinach, nectarines, apricots, butter, eggs, liver, and milk.

Vitamin B is important for metabolism, the process your body uses to make and use energy. Vitamin B also helps your body make red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your blood. It is found in whole grains, green leafy vegetables, dried beans, fish, beef, pork, chicken, and enriched bread and cereals. (“Enriched” means that vitamins are added.)

Vitamin C is one of the best-known vitamins – and for good reason. It is important for healthy teeth, gums, bones, and muscles. It also helps your body heal broken bones or cuts and to resist infections. It’s found in oranges, tangerines, lemons, grapefruit, honeydew, watermelon, strawberries, raspberries, broccoli, tomatoes, green peppers, and orange and grapefruit juices.

Vitamin D is important for strong bones because it helps your body absorb calcium, a mineral your bones need. Vitamin D is found in milk, pudding, tuna, and eggs. Your body can also absorb Vitamin D from the Sun.

Vitamin E protects your body’s tissues, such as your eyes, skin, liver, and lungs. It helps your body store Vitamin A and helps Vitamin K with blood clotting. It’s found in vegetable oils, nuts, and green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach.

Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting. Clots are congealed blood that stop your body from bleeding and prevent germs from getting inside cuts. Vitamin K is found in cereals, soybeans, cheese, and green leafy vegetables.

Your body needs small quantities of minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, sodium, potassium, sulfur, and iron. Your body can’t make minerals, though. Instead, they must enter your body from plants or indirectly from animals that ate plants.

Minerals serve special functions in your body. Consider these minerals, for example.
Iron is part of hemoglobin, an element of red blood cells, which carry oxygen through your blood. To have healthy blood, you need iron. It is found in red meat, liver, dried beans (such as baked beans), baked potato (with the skin), apricots, enriched bread and cereal, and raisins.

Calcium is essential for strong bones and teeth. You probably know that calcium is found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt, cheese, and frozen yogurt. Calcium is also added to some orange juice.

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