If you can find a good book explaining the ins and outs of nutrition, study the chapters relating to vitamins and minerals. Read what proper nutrition is for kids as well as adults.
The growing child doesn't consider the amount of vitamins and minerals taken in, only the desire to curb hunger. This is the very time that they need good nutritional habits.
As we age, eating habits change, and many factors - medication, special diets, illness and loneliness - get in the way of proper nutrition.
How does grapefruit, coffee and toast sound for breakfast? A lot of people live on this diet. And how about a TV dinner and coffee, or two beers and a sandwich for dinner? We wouldn't feed our kids this way, but it is too often a daily occurrence in the life of the working adult.
People do have different nutritional needs. For example, a physically active women involved in daily exercise may need to double the amount of the vitamin riboflavin (B-2) in her diet. It helps release the needed energy in ingested carbohydrates, protein and fats during exercise. And it helps lubricate the mucus membranes.
At the heart of nutritional deficiency are factory-prepared meals as well as restaurant meals. What they lack is fresh fruit vegetables and fresh dairy products. The amount of vitamins needed on a daily basis is as little as one teaspoon.
There are 13 basic vitamins. If you are lacking in one area of your proper vitamin or mineral consumption, you may show deficiency symptoms. If you want a real eye opener, read up on the deficiencies that are waiting for you if your diet lacks any one vitamin or mineral type for long periods of time.
Learn a little about what you are putting in your mouth and your kids' mouths. Then pay attention to how you are preparing your food.
For example, if you cook vegetables, cook them in as little water as possible and refrain from cutting them. The smaller the piece, the less vitamins are retained during cooking. And - surprise - pressure-cooking retains the most amount of vitamin and mineral content in your food.
Get educated about your daily food consumption and its nutritional benefits. You will eat better and be healthier, too.
• Jerry Vance is owner of The Sweat Shop/Wet Sweat. She offers classes through Carson City Recreation and Aquatics Center and is a fitness instructor for the senior center.