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By Kara Rogers

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Humans are able to synthesize certain vitamins to some extent. For example, vitamin D is produced when the skin is exposed to sunlight; niacin can be synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan; and vitamin K and biotin are synthesized by bacteria living in the gut. However, in general, humans depend on their diet to supply vitamins. When a vitamin is in short supply or is not able to be utilized properly, a specific deficiency syndrome results. When the deficient vitamin is resupplied before irreversible damage occurs, the signs and symptoms are reversed.

Iron-deficiency anemia is a concern not only for teenage girls, who lose iron periodically in menstrual blood, but also for teenage boys. 23 The Science of Nutrition adulthood No matter which nutritional and health practices are followed, the body continues to age, and there appears to be a strong genetic component to life expectancy. Nevertheless, healthful dietary practices and habits such as limited alcohol use, avoidance of tobacco products, and regular physical activity can help reduce the chance of premature death and increase the chance of vitality in the older years.

DiEtaRy FiBRE Dietary fibre, the structural parts of plants, cannot be digested by the human intestine because the necessary enzymes are lacking. Even though these nondigestible compounds pass through the gut unchanged (except for a small percentage that is fermented by bacteria in the large intestine), they nevertheless contribute to good health. Insoluble fibre does not dissolve in water and provides bulk, or roughage, that helps with bowel function (regularity) 32 The Essential Nutrients Foods such as oats and fruit provide the human body with soluble fibre, which helps rid the body of harmful cholesterol buildup in the bloodstream.

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