A World Of Good: Global Health In The Eyes Of Gustavo

The power of vitamin B.

One thing unites us no matter where we live or how much money we make, and that's a desire to be both happy and healthy.

What's cool about that is, no matter your age, background, or the region where we reside, we all need many of the same vitamins. And how exciting is it knowing you can do your part to make sure others — and you — get what we need to reach optimum health?

Click on any of the photos above to learn about the unique vitamin needs of boys, girls, women, and men all over the world. Though they may differ, we can each learn how we can work toward our individual and common goal of living happy and healthy lives.

Meet Gustavo.

When we ask Gustavo if he's busy, he laughs. "Extremely busy," he says.  

The Long Island 18-year-old's life is very strictly scheduled. It has to be. In the hours before 2 p.m., he's at his desk, studying hard alongside his high school classmates. When last bell rings, he's off to do homework and cram for upcoming exams before he leaves for soccer practice in Brooklyn at 5. He plays defense, and center back. But whether he's on the field or off, he's always running from one thing to the next.

According to Gustavo, running is the most intense part of soccer. "You've got to be determined and motivated" just to keep up, he says. Luckily, his dad has plenty of motivation to offer.

"He was a pro soccer player in Brazil, so I always looked up to him," Gustavo tells A Plus. "Ever since I was born, I wanted to be just like him."

To make the crazy schedule work and to keep his body fighting — and kicking — fit, the burgeoning teen soccer star makes sure that he's making healthy choices when he reaches for an after-school snack. Apples, bananas, and broccoli are big favorites.

"To be a very healthy person, you've got to know what you're doing. You've got to be active. You've got to exercise. You've got to eat right," he says.

For Gustavo, success means being recruited to play soccer at a big school next year, and proper nutrition will help get him there. 

Vitamin B plays an important role in taking the food we eat and turning it into the energy we need to succeed.

Having enough vitamin B not only helps Gustavo have energy on the field, It also helps his mind stay sharp — something that's important to athletes who need to think about strategies and anticipate other players' movements. 

Vitamin B works to ensure brain and bone marrow health and helps to make red blood cells. Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to symptoms including insomnia, confusion, disorientation, memory loss, and increased fatigue, according to Global Healing Center. Both B12 and B6 deficiencies can cause anemia. 

Vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to symptoms including insomnia, confusion, disorientation, memory loss, and increased fatigue, according to Global Healing Center. Both B12 and B6 deficiencies can cause anemia. To help prevent these symptoms, Gustavo can get vitamin B from foods such as trout, tuna, or salmon. About four ounces of salmon should do the trick on a daily basis, which means he's in luck. It's one of his favorite meals that his parents make.

Taking vitamin B12 is good for the body, and also the mind.

To help keep him healthy and prevent symptoms of a deficiency, Gustavo can get vitamin B from foods such as trout, tuna, or salmon. About four ounces of salmon should do the trick on a daily basis, which means he's in luck: It's one of his favorite meals that his parents make.

The way Gustavo tells it, his family sounds as good at cooking as they are at kicking around the ball. His parents earn high marks — and he suggests that at every game, he's playing for them.

"The biggest high has to be after winning the game, knowing that all the hard work you do pays off, and seeing the smiles on your teammates', your coaches' and your parents' faces," Gustavo told A Plus. "You can't really beat that."

Gustavo is not the only person who needs vitamin B. Three-year-old Yesar from Ethiopia needs it, too. Click on Yesar's photo, highlighted in beige, to find out how the two of them are connected by their vitamin needs, or explore the rest of the profiles below.

Want to help people around the world get access to vitamins? For every purchase of vitamins and minerals at Walgreens, they will make a donation to Vitamin Angels. 

Statements about vitamin deficiencies, the benefits of vitamin B and recommended doses are not endorsed by or representative of opinions from Vitamin Angels.

Vitamin Angels Photos © Matt Dayka/Vitamin Angels