The word 'vitamin' comes from the word 'vital' meaning necessary for life. The best way to get your vitamins is from food. That's because foods evolved with a certain level and mixture of vitamins, minerals and other nutrients that work with each other to support and compliment their individual roles. With a varied diet, it's easy to get all the nutrients you need. Below are groups of foods that contain abundant amounts of the vital nutrients. Getting your child to eat something from each group, every day, or several times a week is nature's best insurance policy for good health.
1. Oranges, tangerines, grapefruit, red peppers, spinach, and broccoli :
These foods provide 35 - 40 milligrams of vitamin C that a one to four-year-old requires. Kids need to get some vitamin C rich food daily because it cannot be stored in the body. Vitamin C helps reduce infections, supports and repairs muscles, bones, teeth and skin, and produces hormones to regulate basal metabolic rate and body temperature.
2. Fortified milk, cooked salmon, tuna canned in oil :
These foods provide Vitamin D. Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption and bone growth. Without it, bones can become thin, brittle, or misshapen. Very few foods naturally contain vitamin D (salmon, tuna, and mackerel are among the best sources) so government required the fortification of milk. Milk products like cheese and ice cream, are generally not vitamin D fortified. Besides these foods, the other way to get your daily requirement is from 15 minutes of direct sunlight each day. Our bodies can manufacture the vitamin D that we need if given enough sunlight. Balance your vitamin D intake with diet and outdoor activities. Remember to use sunscreen with SPF protection to minimize harsh exposure to UV light, especically if you are outside for a prolonged period and do not have additional protection from clothing. Make sure to get enough vitamin D in the winter if you live in minimal sunlight, northern climates. Your body can store extra vitamin D if you cannot get it everyday.
3. Pumpkin, squash, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, mangos :
All of these foods contain rich amounts of beta-carotene, the material your body uses to make vitamin A. Vitamin A is a potent antioxidant that helps minimize and repair cell damage. It is also essential for good vision, especially night vision. Your body can store vitamin A, so this nutrient isn't needed everyday. Be sure to eat several servings a week from this list of foods.
4. Pumpkin and squash seeds, molasses, wheat germ, dried prunes,
All of these foods contain iron. Iron's main job is to transport oxygen around the body via normal red blood cell production. Many children do not get the iron they need. Since your body efficiently stores iron, a daily iron intake isn't absolutely necessary, although it is advised.
5. Dairy products, canned salmon, calcium fortified juices :
These foods provide the essential nutrient, calcium. Calcium is needed for bone growth and strength and without it, children cannot optimize their bone development. Child athletes with a calcium deficiency suffer more breaks and fractures. Calcium is needed every day due to the continual turnover of calcium from the bone.