What are vitamins? Definition, Sources, Benefits and deficiencies

What are vitamins?

Vitamin is a compound term formed by the Latin word vita (“life”) and by the chemical concept amine (coined by the Polish biochemist C. Funk).

Vitamins are the organic substances that are present in food and are necessary for the balance of vital functions.What are vitamins

Vitamins are organic substances essential for the normal functioning of the body, they are found in small quantities in all foods, except those that are highly refined. The Vitamins, as their etymology suggests (from the Latin vita, life) are important for the life of the organism and for metabolic function.

How are vitamins taken?

Vitamins should be ingested in just doses and in a balanced way to improve physiological functioning. The human organism can synthesize only a small part of the essential vitamins; that is why it is essential to obtain them from the diet.

It is important to keep in mind that both the deficiency and the excess of vitamins in the body can cause serious diseases. That is why nutrition must be balanced and based on natural foods. The lack of vitamins is known as vitamin deficiency, while the excess of vitamins is called hypervitaminosis.

Vitamins are not part of the structure of body tissues; rather they act as facilitators or tools for the enzymes (the workers of the body), enabling them to better perform their tasks. These substances were studied for the first time in 1911, by the biochemist Casimir Funk.

Main sources of vitamins?

The main sources of vitamins are raw vegetables and fresh fruits. It must be borne in mind that cooking the food in excess or preparing it a long time in advance generates a significant loss of vitamins in the products, which is why it is recommended to eat raw vegetables whenever possible.

There are different types of vitamins, which are identified according to a capital letter: vitamin A, for example, is present in carrots and broccoli, among other foods, and is very beneficial for the development of vision; Vitamin B appears in bread, while vitamin C is found in citrus fruits. Other types of known vitamins are E, K, and P.

Vitamin deficiency

Vitamin deficiency represents a very worrying situation for our body. Therefore, it is essential to consume fresh fruits and raw vegetables, the most important vitamin source, in a dose of five or more servings per day.

Let’s see some of the recommendations regarding the cooking of foods to avoid the loss of nutrients:

  • Vitamin * avoid cooking at high temperatures;
  • * When trying to boil a food, the best practice is to immerse it in natural water and then bring it to a boil;
  • * any process that you want to perform on the food (cook, cut it, squeeze it) is advisable to carry it out shortly before ingesting it;
  • * It is not beneficial to remove the skin of the cereal or the skin of the fruit, since they are great sources of vitamins;
  • * The better the quality of a fruit or vegetable, the greater its nutritional value, so it is advisable to pay special attention to its appearance before making a purchase;
  • * freezing food generates a decrease in the molecular quality of certain vitamins, leaving them, for the most part, inactive. Therefore, it is advisable to keep them always fresh.

Lack of excess vitamins

Because the body is not able to produce vitamins, these have to be provided with food in low amounts, that is why the importance of a balanced diet or diet, and especially varied to obtain them all since there is no food that contains all the vitamins.

The deficiency of vitamins or a vitamin imbalance produces the denomination avitaminosis, that can arrive to cause pathologies or upheavals so serious as rickets, the sterility or the loss of the capacity of coagulation of the blood.

However, if some of the vitamins are administered in excess, they can also produce alterations called hypervitaminosis.

Water-soluble vitamins

The vitamins have been divided into two groups, where each vitamin has a different function. They are the water-soluble vitamins, which are soluble in water or aqueous solutions thanks to their chemical structure, they are preserved very little time and when they are in excess, are expelled with sweat, urine, and feces, their consumption should be frequent, almost daily.

They include the so-called vitamin B complex (thiamine or vitamin B1, riboflavin or vitamin B2, nicotinamide or vitamin B3, pyridoxine or vitamin B6, cobalamin or vitamin B12), folic acid, vitamin H or biotin and vitamin C.

The other group are fat-soluble vitamins, which are soluble in fats or lipids, and can be stored in some cells of the body. They include vitamin A, D, E, K and lipoic acid.
In summary

Vitamins are essential organic substances for life that act as catalysts for the body’s physiological and metabolic processes. It is necessary to eat them in a balanced way and inadequate doses through diet, although the body can make some of them and obtain others from the intestinal flora.

The function of vitamins depends on their nature and chemical structure. The water-soluble (water-soluble) vitamins are vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins. The fat-soluble vitamins (fat-soluble) are vitamins A, D, E and K. There are vitamins that are precursors to other organic compounds.

Fat-soluble vitamins

They are the vitamins that are not soluble in water. They dissolve with fats. Unlike water-soluble ones, fat-soluble vitamins do store themselves in the body. Excessive intake of fat-soluble vitamins can be harmful.

They are fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E and K.

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