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Vitamins Taste Great

Vitamins Taste Great



The vitamin alphabet soup
Do I need a vitamin supplement?


When you think of vitamins, do you think of people popping pills? Guess again. Vitamins are nutrients found naturally in the foods you eat every day. A healthful diet for teens provides everything your body needs. You don't have to spend money on pills, powders, or tablets. Get your vitamins the natural way! And grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes (peas and dried beans) taste better than those multivitamins in the bottle. Check the nutrition facts label on the foods you eat to find good sources of the vitamins your body needs. back to top

The vitamin alphabet soup
A is for All Girls
Next time you're walking in the dark, thank that vitamin A your body gets out of foods with beta carotene. Vitamin A helps your eyes adjust to the dark so you can avoid tripping over the shoes at the end of your bed. It also keeps your skin and other tissues healthy so germs can't get in. The recommended dietary allowance for girls is 800 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin A a day. Since taking in too much of this vitamin can be toxic, avoid taking a vitamin A supplement. Eggs, fortified milk, red and orange vegetables and fruits (like carrots and tomatoes), leafy greens (like kale and mustard greens), and broccoli are all good sources of beta carotene.

B is for Bounce
There are many different B vitamins that your body needs to perform well. That's because the primary function of B vitamins is to produce energy in your cells.

Here is your recommended dietary allowance for each of the B vitamins:
  • thiamin—1 milligram (mg)
  • riboflavin—1 mg
  • niacin—14 mg
  • pantothenic acid—5 mg
  • vitamin B-6—1.2 mg
  • vitamin B-12—2.4 mcg
  • folate—400 mcg
  • biotin—25 mcg
If you eat plenty of whole grains (like oatmeal and brown rice), lean meats, chicken, fish, dried beans, nuts, leafy greens, and bananas, you're probably getting all the B vitamins your body needs.

C is for Connections
Vitamin C helps create the connective tissues that hold your body together. It works to prevent bruising, heal cuts, and help your immune system ward off infection. It also improves your body's ability to absorb iron from the foods you eat, which helps prevent iron deficiency, or anemia. Your body needs about 50 mg of vitamin C every day. Good vitamin C food choices include citrus fruits like oranges and grapefruit, strawberries, red bell peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and cantaloupe.

D is for Daylight
Vitamin D helps your body absorb and use calcium, a mineral that helps build strong bones and teeth. You need 5 mcg of vitamin D a day. Good food sources include butter, eggs, and fatty fish like herring, mackerel, and salmon. Some foods are enriched with vitamin D. These include low-fat and nonfat milk, margarine, and some breakfast cereals. But D is a pretty unique vitamin. One of the best ways for your body to get vitamin D is to get outdoors on a sunny day. Of course, sunbathing isn't a good idea and you need to protect your skin from sun exposure, but your body makes vitamin D when it absorbs a bit of ultraviolet (UV) light.

E is for Exit
Vitamin E sweeps up the by-products formed when your cells burn oxygen for energy. In other words, it cleans up after you. You can get your 8 mg a day of vitamin E by eating a few nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, olives, or asparagus.

K is for Kids (and Teens too!)
Vitamin K helps your blood form clots when you get a cut. That's your body's way of stopping the bleeding so you can heal. Your body already makes most of the 45 mcg of vitamin K that it needs. But cauliflower, broccoli, leafy greens, and milk are good sources too. back to top

Do I need a vitamin supplement?
A little vitamin goes a long way, and vitamin deficiencies are rare in the United States. Food producers in the States add vitamins to foods like breakfast cereals, bread, and milk during processing. In other words, you are probably already getting vitamin and mineral supplements. Milk is fortified with vitamin D, and some brands of orange juice have calcium added. On the other hand, if you're a vegan, a strict vegetarian who eats no animal products, you need to be sure you are getting enough of the B vitamins through plant protein sources like legumes (peas and dried beans). You could develop vitamin B-12 deficiency if you don't get enough protein.

Check out the Food Guide Pyramid or talk with your health professional or a dietitian if you want to know whether you are getting enough vitamins in your diet. back to top

Learn more about:
analyzing the nutrition contents
healtful diet for teens
Last Modified Date: 4/4/2001
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