by Elizabeth Huff

Health is very important to a writer. When you don’t have to worry about what virus you might have caught you can spend more time worrying about how to get your hero out of that inescapable dungeon you thought up. There are some common sense things you can do to keep healthy and one of them is eating right. At least once in a while. The problem comes in when you read the label on your food. How many of the vitamins and minerals recommended do you really know? What do they do? What happens when you don’t get enough of them? Here are some of the most common vitamins and minerals you will find on your food labels. My disclaimer: I am not a doctor and you should consult with a physician before making any drastic changes to your diet, especially if you have any health conditions.

Vitamin A – This vitamin is necessary for growth and development of cells, as well as your immune system and vision. This vitamin is found in liver, carrots, broccoli, spinach, pumpkin, cheddar cheese, eggs, peas, mango, papaya, eggs, and milk. Failure to get enough vitamin a your diet could result in night blindness, stunted growth, birth defects, and even death. Excess vitamin A consumption can also cause problems, especially in pregnant women, so you should consult with your doctor on daily recommended doses.

Iodine – The lack of this important element is one cause of developing intellectual disabilities, and may also have a hand in autism and developing cancer. Hypothyroidism is also a possibility. It has a role in fetal and neonatal development. Fortunately most table salt is iodized, however, this still leaves many developing countries as iodine deficient. Iodine is a rare element and although some can be found in sea food, most iodine in our diets come from table salt.

Phosphorus – This is one of those funky little elements that are often used in all sorts of nasty things like fertilizer and nerve agents, but in a different form is also necessary for proper cell functioning, strong bones and teeth and helping our cells get energy. Deficiency can lead to anemia, muscle pain, rickets, numbness and a weakened immune system. Luckily, deficiency is rare as phosphorus occurs in almost all foods. Some foods with high concentrations include pumpkin seeds, salmon, almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, tofu, chickpeas, and pinto beans.

Vitamin D – This vitamin is essential in enhancing the absorption rate of calcium and phosphate in the intestines. Humans can usually absorb some through sunlight, and it is also used to fortify staple foods such as milk. Vitamin D promotes healthy growth and remodeling of bone. Low levels are often associated with higher mortality rates and premature aging, some cancer, and increase risk of viral infections. Foods high in vitamin D include herring, halibut, salmon, soymilk, orange juice, milk, shiitake and button mushrooms, and eggs.