Vitamins are natural nutrients which are essential for the body even though they are needed only in very small amounts. The word “vitamin” was firstly used in 1911 by a Polish chemist and is a combination of two words: vital, which means life, and amine, which is a chemical group incorrectly believed to occur in all vitamins).
There are thirteen major vitamins. Some of them cannot be produces in the body (for example vitamin C), and other can be made is small insufficient amounts (such as vitamin D). Therefore, people should obtain the necessary amounts of vitamins from the food they consume.
Vitamins mainly act as important intermediaries or catalysts to sustain the smooth and effective metabolic reaction. These reactions include those that are responsible for:
- conversion of food into energy
- the division and growth of cells
- repair of tissues
- transportation of oxygen and wastes
- mental alertness
- production of hormones
- protection from poisons
- free radicals
Insufficient intake of vitamins may cause inefficient metabolism and you may experience some problems like dry and itchy skin, lack or energy and exhaustion, lower immunity, reduced fertility and slow wound healing.
The deficiency of some vitamins causes problems after very short time but the insufficient amounts of other vitamins may shows up after years.
Vitamins are divided into fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamins A, D, E and K, are easily stored in the body. Water-soluble vitamins should be consistently obtains from food because the are easily lost in urine. Such vitamins are the B and C groups.