Healthy LivingMany factors affect our health. Some we cannot control, such as our genetic makeup or our age. But we can make changes to our lifestyle. By taking steps toward healthy living, we can help reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, stroke and other serious diseases. For example,
Research shows that good nutrition can help to lower people’s risk for many chronic diseases, including heart disease, stroke, some cancers, diabetes, and osteoporosis. However, a large gap remains between healthy dietary patterns and what we actually eat.
Good nutrition begins in infancy. Children who were not breastfed are at increased risk for overweight, asthma, and some childhood infections. Of concern for both children and adults is micronutrient malnutrition, which can negatively affect survival and growth for children, health and pregnancy outcomes for women, and resistance to illness for both.
Vitamins and MineralsVitamins are organic substances made by plants or animals. On the other hand, minerals are inorganic elements that come from the earth, soil and water, and are absorbed by plants. Animals and humans absorb minerals from the plants they eat. Vitamins and minerals are nutrients that our body needs to grow and develop normally.
Vitamins and minerals have a unique role to play in maintaining our health. For example, Vitamin D helps our body absorb the amount of calcium - a mineral - it needs to form strong bones. A deficiency in vitamin D can result in a disease called rickets, which is softening of the bones caused by the body’s inability to absorb the mineral calcium. Our body cannot produce calcium; therefore, it must be absorbed through our food. Other minerals like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc are called trace minerals because we only need very small amounts of them each day. The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a well-balanced diet with a variety of foods.
However, there are times, such as during pregnancy and childhood, when our body needs more vitamins than usual. Multivitamins are recommended for those who need extra vitamins, who cannot eat enough food to obtain the required vitamins, or who cannot receive the full benefit of the vitamins contained in the food they eat.
It is important for us to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines we are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. We should bring this list with us each time we visit a doctor or if we are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with us in case of emergencies.