By Lesli Mueller, Director of Child Nutrition
Vitamin C, Biotin, Vitamin D and Calcium are some of the supplements we see lining the shelves at your local pharmacy. We spend pretty pennies for these in hopes of improving our health. The ironic thing is that this money may be better spent on actual food.
Where we get the best quality of vitamins and minerals is in the food we eat. Whole foods, and not processed foods, are going to be the most nutrient dense. That is why we hear so often that fruits and vegetables make a better snack choice in place of empty calorie chips, for example.
Supplements usually come in an isolated form of a vitamin or mineral. From food we get vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and water. Phytochemicals are found in fruits, vegetables, grains, beans, and other plant foods. Phytochemicals are said to have health benefits that protect the cells in our bodies from damage that could lead to cancer. Scientists are just scratching the surface of how valuable phytochemicals are to our health. We do know some vitamins and minerals in our foods, when eaten together, help absorb vitamins and minerals into our bodies more efficiently.
Environmental and hereditary factors can impact the absorption of minerals, iron and calcium. With the help of Vitamin D, calcium is able to absorb more effectively in our bodies. We mostly get Vitamin D from the sun but it is in some foods like egg yolks and milk. Scrambled eggs and cheese are a great combination of foods to aid in the absorption of calcium. Iron needs the help of Vitamin C to help with absorption. Tomatoes and peppers contain lots of Vitamin C. Iron we find in dry beans, turkey and meat. A delicious bowl of chili would be an excellent food for improved absorption of iron.
Healed and healthy skin, getting over the flu quicker, stronger bones and sparking the energy within us for a less sluggish workout are reasons why vitamins and minerals from food are important to our diet.
If your family eats food from all the food groups and gets a wide variety of these foods you can be assured you are heading down the road to good health. Encouraging your children to try new foods can help this process along and creates good eating habits for their lifetime.