A vitamin is an organic compound required as an essential nutrient. It is generally needed in tiny amounts. Vitamins are needed for a variety of biochemical pathways and because we are unable to produce the molecule, within our body, we must rely upon external sources for the needed molecules. We obtain these needed molecules from the environment. For example, we need Vitamin C in our diet, but many other animals do not, they can and do synthesize the molecule.
Vitamins have diverse biochemical functions within our body. Some have hormone-like functions, like vitamin D (regulates calcium metabolism). Some act as regulators of cell and tissue growth and differentiation such as some forms of vitamin A. Others function as antioxidants (such as vitamin E and C). The vitamins within the B complex group generally act as co-enzymes, interacting with other factors to influence metabolism.
Until the mid-1930s vitamins were obtained solely by the foods consumed. They were not available over-the-counter until the B complex group was extracted from yeast. Through the years, thirteen separate vitamins have been isolated and are now sold in the marketplace.
The following is a list of known vitamins, their date of discovery, name and extraction source:
- 1913, Vitamin A (Retinol), Cod Liver Oil
- 1910, Vitamin B1 (Thiamine), Rice Bran
- 1920, Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid), Citrus, Fresh Foods
- 1920, Vitamin D (Calciferol), Cod Liver Oil
- 1920, Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), Meat, Eggs
- 1922, Vitamin E (Tocopherol), Wheat Germ, Veg. oil
- 1926, Vitamin B12 (Cobalamins), Liver, Eggs, Meats
- 1929, Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone), Leafy Green Veg.
- 1931, Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic A.), Meat & Grains
- 1931, Vitamin B7 (Biotin), Meat, Dairy & Eggs
- 1934, Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine), Meat, Dairy
- 1936, Vitamin B3 (Niacin), Meat, Eggs & Grain
- 1941, Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid), Leafy Green Veg.
In humans, vitamins are classified as either water soluble or fat soluble. Of the known vitamins, 4 are fat soluble and 9 are water soluble. The following is a list of the known vitamins, their solubility, allowance, deficiency disease, and food source:
A Retinol, Fat, 1 mg, Night-Blindness, Yellow Veg.
B1 Thiamine, Water, 1.2 mg, Beriberi, Grains
B2 Riboflavin, Water, 1.3 mg, Ariboflavinosis, Dairy & Veg.
B3 Niacin, Water, 16 mg, Pellagra, Meat, Nuts
B5 PantothenicA., Water, 5.0 mg, Paresthesia, Meat & Avo.
B6 Pyridoxine, Water, 1.7 mg, Anemia, Meat, Nuts
B7 Biotin, Water, 30 Micro g, Dermatitis, Eggs & Liver
B9 Folic Acid, Water, 400 Micro g, Birth Defects, Cereal & Veg.
B12 Cobalamin, Water, 2.4 Micro g, Anemia, Meat
C Ascorbic Acid, Water, 90 mg, Scurvy, Fruits & Veg.
D Calciferol, Fat, 10 Micro g, Rickets, Fish & Eggs
E Tocopherol, Fat, 15 mg, Mild Anemia, Fruits & Veg.
K Phylloquinone, Fat, 120 Micro g, Bleeding, Eggs & Veg.
The Role of Minerals
To maintain good health, a variety of “macrominerals” or as they are sometimes called “bulk minerals”. Some are structural (needed as a body structural material) and some are electrolytes (important in some physiological role, like muscle contraction). Elements with recommended dietary allowance (RDA) greater than 200 mg/day (mg=milligram) are listed below, along with a brief analysis of their function:
Important Minerals –
Trace Minerals –