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Vitamins

Vitamins are organic low molecular weight components of the diet, which act essentially only as catalysts required by the organism in very small amounts for normal development. They are either not synthesized by the organism or not in sufficient quantity, and must therefore be ingested with the diet or acquired in some other way. A vitamin deficiency leads to illness which is cured by administration of the vitamin.

To show that a compound is a vitamin it is necessary to show a deficiency in experimental subjects and that this can be reversed by restoring the missing compound. The name 'vitamin' is derived from 'vital amine' as the name suggests these essential compounds were initially thought to be amines.
Vitamins can be divided into fat soluble and water soluble groups, vitamins A, E, D and K are fat soluble and may be stored in the body, the remainder being water soluble and the body hes limited or no stores.

 

What are Vitamins?

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"Vitamins are organic compounds or set of organic compounds that are found in natural substances found in plants and animals. They are known as Essential nutrients for human beings because of their requirement. It was originally thought that these organic substances were only amines and so the name is given by shortening "Vital amines" to vitamins."

Later it was found that there are many compounds other than amines that are equally essential to living bodies. These substances are to be used in minor quantities in order to stay healthy and these support many functions of the body.

Types of Vitamins

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Vitamins are classified according to their biological and chemical activity and not according to their structure. There are 13 essential vitamins known so far and each one has a special role to play in helping to regulate the processes such as cell growth and repair, reproduction and digestion and support sexual function in human beings.
  • All vitamins are not having similar physical and chemical properties since they are not individual compounds but a set of compounds.
  • There are two types of vitamins with respect to their solubility. They are water-soluble and fat-soluble. As mentioned earlier each vitamin is a combination of a number of compounds called "vitaminers" which shows biological activity associated with the vitamin that they represent.
  • The set or group of those chemicals are given an alphatical generic descriptor title for example Vitamin A.
  • Vitamers are convertible to the active form in the body and are sometimes inter-convertible.

The thirteen vitamins are listed below.
  1. Vitamin A : It is a fat soluble vitamin and it contains Retinol, retinal, and four carotenoids including beta carotene
  2. Vitamin B1 : This is a water soluble vitamin and is containing a compound called Thiamine having amine group.
  3. Vitamin B2 : This is a water soluble vitamin containing a compound called Riboflavin.
  4. Vitamin B3 : A water soluble vitamin containing compound Niacin or Niacinamide, a nitrogen containing vitamin.
  5. Vitamin B5 : Contains pantothenic acid and is water soluble vitamin.
  6. Vitamin B6 : This vitamin is a combination of compounds Pyridoxine, Pyridoxamine and pyridoxal. This is also a water soluble vitamin.
  7. Vitamin B7 : This vitamin contains a compound called Biotine. This is also a water soluble vitamin.
  8. Vitamin B9 : Folic acid and Folinic acid are the components of this vitamin which is water soluble.
  9. Vitamin B12 : This vitamin is a combination of Cyanacobalamin, hydroxycobalamin and methyl cobalamin. This is a water soluble vitamin. All these vitamins belonging to Vitamin B class are in a combination known as B COMPLEX. All these water soluble vitamins are absorbed directly by the body and excess will be excreted. Hence little overdose of these is not dangerous.
  10. Vitamin C : A water soluble vitamin containing Ascorbic aid.
  11. Vitamin D : This a fat soluble vitamin containing Cholecalciferol.
  12. Vitamin E : This vitamin is a combination of chemicals belonging to Tocoferols and Tocotrienols. This is also a fat soluble vitamin.
  13. Vitamin K : Philloquinones and menaquinones are the compounds in this vitamin and this is a fat soluble vitamin

All the fat soluble vitamins are stored in the fat of the body and recovered from fat when it is needed. Hence overdose of these vitamins are to be avoided.

Sources of Vitamins

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Vitamins are not produced by the body but are available from the foods. Many of the vitamins are now being synthesized but and their natural sources are given below.
  1. Vitamin A: Orange, ripe yellow fruits, leafy vegetables, carrots, pumpkin, squash, spinach, liver
  2. Vitamin B1: Pork, oatmeal, brown rice, vegetables, potatoes, liver, eggs
  3. Vitamin B2: Dairy products, bananas, popcorn, green beans, asparagus
  4. Vitamin B3: Meat, fish, eggs, many vegetables, mushrooms, tree nuts
  5. Vitamin B5: Meat, broccoli, avocados
  6. Vitamin B6: Meat, vegetables, tree nuts, bananas
  7. Vitamin B7: Raw egg yolk, liver, peanuts, certain vegetables
  8. Vitamin B9: Leafy vegetables, pasta, bread, cereal, liver
  9. Vitamin B12: Meat and other animal products
  10. Vitamin C: Many fruits and vegetables, liver
  11. Vitamin D: Fish, eggs, liver, mushrooms
  12. Vitamin E: Many fruits and vegetables.
  13. Vitamin K: Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, egg yolks, liver

Vitamin
Sources
Vitamin A Leafy vegetables, Carrots, pumpkin,Orange, Amla, ripe yellow fruits, squash, spinach and liver.
Vitamin B1 Brown rice, potatos, vegetables, oat meal,liver eggs and pork
Vitamin B2
Asparagus, Banana, popcorn, green beans and milk products.
Vitamin B3 Mushrooms, many vegetables, dry nuts, meat, fish and eggs
Vitamin B5 Avocados, meat, broccoli
Vitamin B6
Dry nuts, bananas, green vegetables and meat
Vitamin B7 Peanuts, Vegetables, raw egg yolk and liver
Vitamin B9 Bread, cereal, pasta, leafy vegetables and liver
Vitamin B12 Animal source of food items such as meat
Vitamin C Citrus fruits, Amla,vegetables and liver
Vitamin D Mushrooms, liver eggs and fish
Vitamin E Green Vegetables, variety of fruits
Vitamin K Spinach, broccoli, and other green vegetables, egg yolk

Deficiency of Vitamins

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Vitamin deficiency is the cause for many diseases and complications. Each and every vitamin has a limitation to be absorbed as well as minimum requirement for balanced nourishment. Given below are some of the diseases caused by the deficiencies of vitamins.
  1. Vitamin A deficiency causes night blindness, hyperkeratosis and Keratomalacia.
  2. Vitamin B1 deficiency causes Wernick-Korsakoff syndrome and beriberi.
  3. Vitamin B2 deficiency causes a disease called ariboflavinosis.
  4. Vitamin B3 deficiency causes pellagra disease.
  5. Vitamin B5 deficiency causes disease Paresthesia.
  6. Vitamin B6 deficiency causes peripheral neurosis and anemia.
  7. Vitamin B7 deficiency causes dermatitis and enteritis.
  8. Vitamin B9 deficiency causes megaloblast and neural tube defects at child birth.
  9. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia.
  10. Vitamin C deficiency causes a disease condition called scurvy.
  11. Vitamin D deficiency causes Rickets and osteomalacia.
  12. Vitamin K deficiency causes bleeding diathesis, a clotting problem of the blood.
  13. Vitamin E deficiency causes mild hemolytic anemia in child birth which is very rare.
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