Vitamins

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If you’re like most kids, you’ve probably heard at least one parent say, “Don’t forget to take your vitamin!” or “Eat your salad — it’s packed with vitamins!” But what exactly are vitamins?

Vitamins and minerals are substances that are found in the foods we eat. Your body needs them to work correctly, so you grow and develop just like you should. When it comes to vitamins, each one has a unique role to play. For example:

  • Vitamin D in milk helps your bones.
    Vitamin A in carrots helps you see at night.
    Vitamin C in oranges helps your body heal if you get a cut.
    B vitamins in whole grains help your body make energy from food.

Vitamins Hang Out in Water and Fat
There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.

The vitamins are stored in the fat tissues in your body and liver when you eat foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins. They wait around in your body fat until your body needs them.

Fat-soluble vitamins are happy to stay stored in your body for a while — some stay for a few days, some for up to 6 months! When it’s time for them to be used, individual carriers in your body take them to where they’re needed. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins.

Water-soluble vitamins are different. When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don’t get stored as much in your body. Instead, they travel through your bloodstream. Whatever your body doesn’t use comes out when you urinate (pee).

So these kinds of vitamins need to be replaced often because they don’t stick around! This crowd of vitamins includes vitamin C and the big group of B vitamins — B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), niacin, B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, B12 (cobalamin), biotin, and pantothenic acid.

Vitamins Feed Your Needs

Your body is one powerful machine, capable of doing all sorts of things by itself. But when it comes to vitamins, it can use some help. That’s where food comes in. Your body can get the vitamins it needs from the foods you eat because different foods contain different vitamins. The key is to eat different foods to get an assortment of vitamins. Some kids take a daily vitamin, but most kids don’t need one if they’re eating a variety of healthy foods.

Now, let’s look more closely at vitamins — from A to K:

Vitamin A

This vitamin plays a massive part in eyesight. It’s great for night vision, like when you’re trick-or-treating on Halloween. Vitamin A helps you see in color, too, from the brightest yellow to the darkest purple. Besides, it helps your body fight infections by boosting your immune system.

Which foods are rich in vitamin A?

  • milk fortified with vitamin A
    liver
    orange fruits and vegetables (like cantaloupe, carrots, sweet potatoes)
    dark green leafy vegetables (like kale, collards, spinach)

The B Vitamins

There’s more than one B vitamin. Here’s the list: B1, B2, B6, B12, niacin, folic acid, biotin, and pantothenic acid. Whew — that’s quite a group!

The B vitamins are essential in metabolic activity — this means that they help make energy and set it free when your body needs it. So the next time you’re running to third base, thank those B vitamins.

This group of vitamins is involved in making red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout your body. Every part of your body needs oxygen to work correctly, so these B vitamins have an essential job.

Which foods are rich in vitamin B?

  • whole grains, such as wheat and oats
    fish and seafood
    poultry and meats
    eggs
    dairy products, like milk and yogurt
    leafy green vegetables
    beans and peas

Vitamin C

This vitamin is essential for keeping body tissues, such as gums, bones, and blood vessels in good shape. C is also crucial if you get a cut or wound because it helps you heal.

This vitamin also helps your body resist infection. This means that even though you can’t always avoid getting sick, vitamin C makes it a little harder for your body to become infected with an illness.

Which foods are rich in vitamin C?

  • citrus fruits, like oranges
    cantaloupe
    strawberries
    tomatoes
    broccoli
    cabbage
    kiwi fruit
    sweet red peppers

Vitamin D

No bones about it . . . vitamin D is the vitamin you need for strong bones! It’s also great for forming healthy teeth. Vitamin D even lends a hand to an essential mineral — it helps your body absorb the amount of calcium it needs. Vitamin D is made in the skin when exposed to sunlight, or you can get it from the foods you eat.

Which foods are rich in vitamin D?

  • milk fortified with vitamin D
    fish
    egg yolks
    liver
    fortified cereal

Vitamin E

Everybody needs E. This hard-working vitamin protects your cells and tissues from damage. It is also essential for the health of red blood cells.

Which foods are rich in vitamin E?

  • whole grains, such as wheat and oats
    wheat germ
    leafy green vegetables
    vegetable oils like sunflower, canola, and olive
    egg yolks
    nuts and seeds

Vitamin K

Vitamin K is the slot master! Remember the last time you got a cut? Your blood did something special called clotting. This is when specific cells in your blood act like glue and stick together at the surface of the cut to help stop the bleeding.

Which foods are rich in vitamin K?

  • leafy green vegetables
    dairy products, like milk and yogurt
    broccoli
    soybean oil