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Food & Nutrition

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Focus on Vitamins in the Body

Chart of Vitamins in the body, click to see full sizeAlthough vitamins contain no calories, they are essential for normal growth and development, and many chemical reactions in the body. Vitamins are necessary for the body to use the calories provided by the food that we eat and help process proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Vitamins are also involved in building cells, tissues, and organs—vitamin C, for example, helps produce healthy skin.

Research has shown that foods rich in antioxidants are particularly beneficial for health. Antioxidants include vitamins A, C, and E, and they are found in a wide range of vegetables and fruits. Antioxidants neutralize free radicals. A buildup of free radicals can damage body cells and tissues, resulting in disease. Studies have shown that diets rich in vegetables and fruits result in a lower incidence of some diseases, including certain cancers.

The key to getting enough vitamins in your diet is to eat a variety of foods. This is because while some nutrients tend to be found in substantial amounts in certain groups of foods, such as vitamin C in fruit and calcium in dairy products, other nutrients such as the B-complex vitamins are found in smaller amounts in a wide range of foods. No one food contains an adequate amount of all the vitamins that you require daily, but if you make healthy choices from a variety of foods, you are less likely to miss out any one particular nutrient.

From CREDO What are Vitamins? in Nutrition for Life: A No Fad, Non-Nonsense Approach to Eating Well and Reaching Your Healthy Weight

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