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Why it's Good to Get Bs and Cs

The B vitamins and vitamin C need to be replenished every day to meet the body's needs. If you work out regularly, you may want to pay special attention to these nutrients, as they play significant (although very different) roles in exercise.

The B vitamins help release energy from carbohydrates, fats and proteins. Without adequate amounts of the B vitamins, the body lacks the energy needed for exercise. Some foods that contain B vitamins include fortified cereals, rainbow trout, salmon, tuna, chicken, yogurt, milk and cheese.

Vitamin C helps the body deal with the effects of exercise. A potent antioxidant, vitamin C protects the body against cell damage that can occur during exercise. Some foods that contain vitamin C include red bell peppers, broccoli, guava, oranges, orange juice, papaya, and strawberries.

It is certainly possible to get the necessary amounts of Bs and Cs from food. However, our busy lifestyles often get in the way of making nutritious food choices that give us the vitamins we need each day. In these cases, taking supplements can be an excellent way to get all of the vitamins and minerals needed for good health.

The Sunshine Vitamin

..Vitamin D is sometimes referred to as the sunshine vitamin. This is because the body produces vitamin D when it is exposed to sunlight, hence the sunshine vitamin. Why do you need Vitamin D? It is necessary for your body to absorb and utilize calcium, which keeps bones strong. Without vitamin D, all of the calcium you ingest will just pass right through you, and that's no good for bones, hair, skin and teeth.

So don't be afraid of sun completely! Get your 10-15 minutes of sunshine a few times a week. Other sources of vitamin D include dairy products and fortified cereal.

A Germ That is Good For You

Want a quick way to add more nutrients and fiber to your breakfast? Sprinkle a couple tablespoons of wheat germ onto your yogurt or cereal.

Wheat germ is the "heart" of the wheat kernel; it is typically separated from wheat that is milled for flour. Wheat germ is rich in vitamin E, an antioxidant that may help the immune system. Wheat germ is also a good source of several important minerals, including magnesium, phosphorus and zinc.

How to Get Your Omega-3s

A substantial body of scientific study suggests that omega-3 fatty acids can help reduce the risk of heart disease. The best sources of these nutrients are certain fish, including albacore tuna, bluefish, lake trout, and salmons (Atlantic, pink, king). But if you're a vegetarian, or if you just don't like fish, there are other food sources of omega-3 fatty acids:

Leafy green vegetables (e.g., spinach)
Ground flaxseed
Canola oils
Olive oils
As for fish oil capsules and supplements, the research is less definitive; more studies need to be done to establish whether these supplements are effective in reducing heart disease risk.

An Exotic Source of Vitamin C

Papayas probably aren't an everyday staple for you. But if you want a good dose of vitamin C, seek them out every now and then; they're an exotic alternative to oranges and other citrus fruits. Papayas have 150% the recommended daily allowance of vitamin C. They are excellent in salads or eaten alone.

When shopping for papayas, look for ones that are slightly soft. (Avoid ones that are very soft or that have blemishes.) The more "yellow" papayas have, the more ripe they are. Green papayas will ripen at room temperature.

Why You Still Need Vitamins

Vitamins are good for you. Most people agree. However, here is another good reason to take vitamin supplements: Exercise can also be a stressor capable of producing free radicals -- substances that are potentially damaging to the body's tissues.

Since several vitamins and minerals help prevent free radicals from causing damage, a multivitamin is a good idea. Here's an even simpler way to look at it: When we work out, our need for several vitamins and minerals increases. Taking a multivitamin to replace what's lost during exercise makes perfect sense.

The Importance of Minerals

Low iron is one of the most common deficiencies in the country and world, particularly in women. Low iron is the cause of Iron-deficiency or Anemia. One easy way to increase your iron is to eat foods with vitamin C along with foods high in iron. Why, you ask? Because vitamin C can help you absorb iron more efficiently.

Here is an easy way to get more iron in your diet: Next time you are cooking a steak for dinner, try eating it with -- 1 cup of broccoli or spinach and 1 small potato, which are both good sources of vitamin C.

Berry Good Food

Berries are berry good for you. They are sweet, small and snack-like, but easy to underestimate. Research shows that these tiny treats pack a powerful nutritional punch. Strawberries are super high in vitamin C!

STRAWBERRIES: Super high vitamin C! You can actually meet the recommended daily allowance (RDA) by eating fewer than 10 per day.
BLUEBERRIES: Super berries! They were one of the first berries to be officially recognized for their antioxidant properties. Recent studies indicate that other berries (including raspberries and blackberries) are also rich in anti-oxidants that may help prevent cancer.
RASPBERRIES: A food source of fiber; one cup and you've met a third of your daily requirement.
BLACKBERRIES: One cup provides a third of the RDA for fiber and one half of the RDA for vitamin C.

Nutritional Supplements and Weight Control

..Some people focus on diet alone in their efforts to lose or maintain their weight. Others look to a workout plan. Studies suggest, however, that a three-pronged approach that includes nutritional supplements, a healthy diet and regular exercise can help you burn fat, build muscle, and curb your appetite more quickly and efficiently than exercise or diet alone.

Nutritional supplements have come a long way. They come in many different forms (vitamin capsules, energy bars, drinks, shakes) and are formulated to provide support for specific fitness goals, such as burning fat, building muscle, providing a full range of essential nutrients, replacing meals and much more. When choosing nutritional supplements, consider your personal fitness goals -- and look for the products designed to meet those goals.

The Importance of Vitamins and Minerals

..So what's the big fuss about vitamins and minerals? In order to live a healthy life, you need to balance your diet with enough of each. Here's how they break down:

Vitamins are needed to regulate various body chemical reactions and processes as well as aid in the release of energy from your food.

Minerals help enzymes function efficiently and are a part of bone and nerve communications. So don't forget to eat your fruits and vegetables as well as following a well-rounded diet coming from all parts of the Food Guide Pyramid.