Have you ever been told to eat your vegetables because they are good for you? What about drinking your milk to have strong bones, or going outside to get Vitamin D from the sunshine? Maybe you even take daily vitamins. But just what are vitamins, and why does our body need them? What do they do?
Vitamins and minerals are the things our body needs in small amounts. Without them, the body cannot grow and function as it should.
Vitamins and Minerals
Vitamin A is also called retinol. It is used by the body to build important molecules in the eye that react to light. You can get your Vitamin A from meat, fish, eggs, and dairy products. Our bodies can also make Vitamin A from certain fruits and vegetables, such as carrots.
When the sun shines on our skin, our bodies can make Vitamin D. This vitamin helps the body absorb and hold onto the mineral calcium. Calcium, which we can get from dairy products and dark leafy greens, is needed to build strong bones. It also makes our muscles work.
Many of the minerals the body needs are metals. These include calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and copper. Iron is needed to help red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to the heart and all over the body. Not having enough iron can make you feel tired, weak, and cold.
Traveling for Health
Animals need vitamins and minerals, too. In Africa, an amazing migration of more than a million wildebeests, zebras, and gazelles takes place every year. This huge herd travels 124 miles (200 km) from the far north of the Serengeti ecosystem to the southeast, where they give birth to most of their young. Scientists think that these animals travel to this area for the mineral-rich grasses.
How Much Do We Need?
The body can store some vitamins and minerals, but others must be eaten regularly. Because of this, it is possible to get too much of some of them. Too much or too little can cause health problems. Our bodies need just the right amount.
In Matthew 4:4, Jesus says, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” Just as we need vitamins and minerals for our physical health, we need time in God’s Word, the Bible, for our spiritual health. And don’t worry—you can never have too much time with God!
About the Author
Rachel Lancashire is a freelance writer with an educational background in wildlife. She grew up in the Christian Reformed Church and currently attends Gilmour Memorial Baptist Church in Selwyn, Ont.