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

“I’ve been known to chase them to get them going a little faster.”

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 Ryan.

Ryan is a 34-year-old newlywed who teaches physical education at an elementary school in Bedford, New York. He tells A Plus he's always wanted to be a teacher — and that he works hard to stay fit and stay healthy so he can keep up with the kindergartners on the field.

"I've been known to chase them to get them going a little faster," he chuckles.

Ryan regularly demonstrates new skills for his students, often more than once so they can get the hang of it. Last week, he taught them how to climb. Ascending a 25-foot rope, he observed, might be easy for a slight and spry fourth-grader, but it can get pretty tiring for a 34-year-old man to go up and down, and up again.

Because of his high level of activity, vitamin A is huge for him, whether he's making sautéed spinach for his wife or cooking up a storm on Salmon Wednesdays. A man his age needs about 700 to 900 micrograms (mcg) per day, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dark, leafy greens (such as kale and collards) are great sources of vitamin A, as are sweet potatoes, carrots, squash, melons, peppers, and certain types of fish. One sweet potato or one cup of boiled spinach each contain more than enough vitamin A to fulfill his daily needs.

Vitamin A keeps his heart and lungs functioning perfectly, and his eyesight on-point.

It also benefits his immune system, a huge boon because he spends all day with little kids.

"I naturally have a very strong immune system, but I wash my hands four or five times a day, and I even have sanitizing wipes in my office, which I use probably four or five times a day," Ryan explains. "My immune system is really important."

In short? His vitamin-rich diet is a recipe for success, and he's spreading the word. He teaches an entire unit on health and nutrition.

"We also incorporate it in throughout the year: the different food groups and how much they should be getting of each, identifying foods in each of the food groups," he says. Fruits and vegetables, of course, are heavily emphasized, whereas treats like doughnuts and pastries won't do much to move the nutrition needle.

But food isn't the only place to get your daily dose.

Ryan receives a healthy intake of vitamin D through safe levels of sunshine, as well as other sources.

"Especially during the spring and the fall, we talk about going outside to get vitamin D, we talk about other ways to get vitamin D other than the sun," he says of his lessons with his students. The vitamin is also necessary for muscles to move, so, as a gym teacher, Ryan is especially incentivized to partake.

He'll be the first to tell you just how much he loves his job.

"I like to see them grow. When I give them feedback, and when they put it to use, and when it becomes a rote skill, and then they're starting to do it subconsciously without even thinking about it — that's always very rewarding to me," he explains. "I like to see when the kids gain confidence through success, and I can see how that can change and have influence in other aspects of their life, socially and academically."

Ryan isn't the only one who needs vitamin A, however. Seven-year-old Shundori from India and 3-year-old Metrin from Uganda also need vitamin A. Click on Shundori and Metrin's photos, highlighted in blue, 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 A, and recommended doses are not endorsed by or representative of opinions from Vitamin Angels.

Vitamin Angels Photos © Matt Dayka/Vitamin Angels