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.
Craig lives in Long Island City, N.Y., and works at a busy hotel in New York City. There he's often on his feet, hustling from one floor of the building to the next, and he makes a concentrated effort to keep his energy level high throughout day — without resorting to coffee or sweets.
His job is particularly demanding in an already time-consuming line of work, so the 40-year-old strives to maintain a personable demeanor when interacting with guests thanks to daily exercise, getting at least seven hours of sleep, and eating balanced meals.
"If I don't eat right, I'll crash while I'm at work, and I can't be tired or cranky with the type of high-profile clientele I deal with," Craig says. He also notes how frequently he lifts heavy files and moves equipment such as tables — which would be terrible times to suffer a broken bone because he wasn't getting enough vitamin D and, by default, not getting enough calcium.
Given that activity, and the fact that he does aerobic and weightlifting exercises, Craig started integrating vitamin D supplements into his diet — specifically because, according to the National Institute of Health's Office of Dietary Supplements, it plays a key part in how the body absorbs calcium and delivers it to the bones. Building strong, firm bones, and fighting osteoporosis are of concern for the always-on-his-feet Craig.
Though vitamin D is found in some foods, it can be difficult to get the right amounts for those who don't like seafood, such as Craig, or are lactose intolerant and/or allergic to dairy products. Being exposed to safe levels of sunshine can also activate vitamin D synthesis.
But getting any sun can be tough for Craig, who grew up in Pennsylvania prior to living in New York.
"My parents told me people who live up north (in the U.S.) have a hard time getting enough vitamin D because there are so many months where it's cold and you don't get outside much," he tells A Plus.
Another factor working against increased sun exposure? Where he works.
According to the Vitamin Council, people who work indoors are at a greater risk of being vitamin D deficient, and sometimes Craig only sees sunlight outside his building for a few minutes a day depending on the clients he has in-house.
For many people — even at young ages — difficulty getting enough vitamin D is not uncommon:
Vitamin D helps your body develop stronger bones.
Vitamin D, a fat-soluble vitamin, can be found in foods such as fish (including salmon, tuna, and cod), as well as in beef liver, fortified juices, egg yolks, some cereals, milk, and cheese. When ingested or produced when ultraviolet rays from the sun make contact with your skin, vitamin D can work to make sure the calcium is absorbed into your bones — and also that deposits the mineral could potentially leave behind don't affect your body's soft organs.
The recommended dosage for a man of Craig's age is 600 international units (IU), which is the same as taking two to three supplements a day. Too much vitamin D can lead to toxic effects on the body, so it's recommended you speak with your doctor to coordinate how much supplemented vitamin D you consume given your dietary habits.
Vitamin D has other benefits, too, including living a longer and healthier life.
According to a report by Men's Fitness, studies have found vitamin D is linked to living longer, lowering your risk of heart disease, preventing high blood pressure, and lowering the risk of certain cancers — a concern for Craig, given his family's history with cancer, and because colon cancer tends to affect many more men than women, especially around the age of 40 and upward.
Vitamin D has also been found to fight against influenza and reduce muscle pain. And, of course, it can help prevent what's called vitamin D deficiency, or rickets, in which bones become soft (and easier to damage) or deformed.
Some groups are more likely to have vitamin D deficiencies than others. Check out the infographic below:
Craig is not the only person who needs vitamin D. Fourteen-month-old Rosalinda from Guatemala and 26-year-old John from New York also need it. Click on Rosalinda and John's photos, highlighted in red, to find out how they are connected by their vitamin need, 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 D and recommended doses are not endorsed by or representative of opinions from Vitamin Angels.
Vitamin Angels Photos © Matt Dayka/Vitamin Angels