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Essential Vitamins You Won't Want to Miss

Posted by Heather J.

It’s pretty easy to get an adequate amount of vitamin C and calcium. But there are plenty of other nutrients just as important, but get less press than the others. A few of them include…

Iron. Three out of four adolescent girls and women of childbearing age don't get enough iron, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But iron is essential for building red blood cells, and important to your immune system and mental faculties. The amount you need varies depending on age, gender, and other factors. Good food sources include beef, chicken and fish, and/or egg yolk, cereal, dried beans, peas and dark green leafy vegetables. Combine iron with vitamin C to aid absorption.

Selenium. This antioxidant mineral works with vitamins A, C and E, as well as the mineral zinc, to protect cells from damage. Selenium may help us avoid prostate, colon, and lung cancer. Meats, seafood, grains, and seeds offer selenium, but the amount in foods varies widely by region. Soil content determines the selenium content in foods. Most of us need 55 micrograms (mcg) per day.

Vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin! To get your dose head outdoors. Your liver makes this vitamin after your skin absorbs sunlight. Foods (with the exception of fish oils and some fatty fish) offer little natural vitamin D, but you can get it from vitamin D fortified milk. Vitamin D helps your body absorb and metabolize calcium, which keeps your bones strong. Unfortunately, sunscreen of 30 SPF or greater reportedly blocks vitamin D production, so those of us who avoid the sun would do better getting our D from milk. If you take a calcium supplement with vitamin D, look for those containing vitamin D3, which is the most absorbable, beneficial variety.

Vitamin K. Vitamin K helps make your blood clot and works with calcium and vitamin D to build strong bones. Normal bacteria in your digestive system help make vitamin K, but if you're not eating green vegetables, it's difficult to get enough vitamin K. However, your body also can make vitamin K from eggs, milk and meat.

Zinc. Zinc has many functions in our bodies, and deficiency has been associated with problems such as growth failure, dermatitis, birth defects, decreased sperm production, and changes in the competency of the immune system. Look for zinc in red meat, wheat bran, almonds, peanut butter, and tuna. Vegetarians need more zinc than the carnivores.

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