Vitamins

Vitamins and minerals are food substances that the body needs in minute quantities. Luckily, a balanced diet usually provides all these in sufficient amounts. Table 8-3 shows the various food sources that you need to provide for your child to make sure he gets enough vitamins.

Table 8-3 Essential Vitamins and Where to Find Them

Vitamin

Function

Food Sources

Vitamin A

Needed for healthy skin and bones

Milk and green vegetables

Vitamin B1 (thiamin)

Converts carbohydrates into energy

Meat and whole-grain cereals

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin)

Needed to use food properly

Milk, cheese, fish, and green vegetables

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), pantothenic acid, and biotin

Needed for growth

Liver, yeast, potatoes, bananas, and chicken breasts

Vitamin B12

Keeps the red blood cells and the nervous system healthy

Animal foods, such as meat, dairy products, and eggs

Folic acid

Keeps the red blood cells and the nervous system healthy

Green vegetables

Niacin

Helps release energy

Lean meat, fish, nuts, and legumes

Vitamin C

Helps maintain supportive tissues

Fruit and potatoes

Vitamin D

Helps with absorption of calcium

Dairy products

Vitamin E

Helps maintain cells

Vegetable oils and whole-grain cereals

Vitamin K

Needed for proper clotting of the blood

Leafy vegetables

Kids don't need vitamin pills (nor do most adults) if they eat a healthy diet. Only in cases in which the body rapidly uses food and vitamins, as in pregnancy, is there a possibility that the person doesn't get enough of these vitamins. Then a supplemental vitamin pill makes sense. Otherwise, it's just a waste of money.

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