HealthcareA Brief Introduction into the World of Vitamins

Vitamins. We all think that we are familiar with what they are, but is this really true?

Vitamins are organic molecules containing carbon, and they are essential nutrients for the body to work properly as they are vital regulators sustaining our metabolism. They are needed in small amounts but so indispensable for life. Usually, we are not aware of their presence and function in the body unless certain medical conditions related to their shortage occur.

Each organism requires different quantities of vitamins. However, some can produce vitamins in sufficient amounts, whereas others need to obtain the vitamins through their diet. In short, in humans, vitamins are not produced enough or produced at all, making them essential nutrients. Therefore, vitamins must be acquired from outside the body, e.i., from food.

Yes, a healthy and balanced diet remains the best source of vitamins. The problem is that vitamins are usually present in food in small amounts. Therefore, it is supposed that not everyone will get the required quantities of the needed vitamins just by eating.

There are thirteen known vitamins – A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C, D, E, and K. Behind these letters stand names such as retinol and carotenoids, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folic acid or folate, cobalamins, ascorbic acid, calciferol, tocopherols and tocotrienols, and quinones, respectively.

We should know that some of the vitamins are oil-soluble (A, D, E, and K), whereas others are water-soluble (C and all of the B complex vitamins). It is important for us to remember that oil-soluble vitamins can be stored in our body as a reserve for months and that they are absorbed with the assistance of lipids through the gut. In contrast, water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored, instead, they turnover rapidly and are excreted through urine. Thus, they need to be substituted more often.

Did you know that the letters F, G, H, I, and J also used to be assigned to “vitamins?” The term vitamin comes from the presumption that these discovered micronutrients were amines and vital to life as well. All suggested vitamins were identified between 1913 and 1948, but after that, some of them were reclassified as other vitamins and nutrients or as not existing at all.

Different vitamins have distinct roles in vital processes in the body such as tissue growth and differentiation, metabolism (as enzyme cofactors or coenzymes), mineral and bone turnover. Some of them act as antioxidants. It’s not surprising that deficient intake of vitamins may lead to significant health problems.

It is well-known that different people require different quantities of vitamins, depending on the sex, age or presence of certain conditions (pregnancy, restricted diet). Nevertheless, the U.S. Dietary Guidelines (2015-2020) recommend a well-adjusted and varied diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables as the main source of vitamins.

What are the known vitamins, what amounts of them we need daily, what are the signs of their deficiency, and how to provide sufficient daily intake? You can find out easily with the following memorable infographic provided by medalerthelp.org.

Infographic URL: https://medalerthelp.org/the-world-of-vitamins-infographic/

This article was sponsored by Lean Rank

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