Vitamins are organic components in food that are needed in very small amounts for growth and for maintaining good health. The vitamins include vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin K, or the fat-soluble vitamins, and folate (folic acid), vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin C (ascorbic acid), or the water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins are required in the diet in only tiny amounts, in contrast to the energy components of the diet. The energy components of the diet are sugars, starches, fats, and oils, and these occur in relatively large amounts in the diet.
Most of the vitamins are closely associated with a corresponding vitamin deficiency disease. Vitamin D deficiency causes rickets, a disease of the bones. Vitamin E deficiency occurs only very rarely, and causes nerve damage. Vitamin A deficiency is common throughout the poorer parts of the world, and causes night blindness. Severe vitamin A deficiency can result in xerophthalamia, a disease which, if left untreated, results in total blindness. Vitamin K deficiency results in spontaneous bleeding. Mild or moderate folate deficiency is common throughout the world, and can result from the failure to eat green, leafy vegetables or fruits and fruit juices. Folate deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia, which is characterized by the presence of large abnormal cells called megaloblasts in the circulating blood. The symptoms of megaloblastic anemia are tiredness and weakness. Vitamin B12 deficiency occurs with
|Vitamin||What It Does For The Body|
|Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)||Promotes growth and repair of body tissues; reduces susceptibility to infections; aids in bone and teeth formation; maintains|
|Vitamin B-1 (Thiamin)||Promotes growth and muscle tone; aids in the proper functioning of the muscles, heart, and nervous system; assists in digestion of|
|Vitamin B-2 (Riboflavin)||Maintains good vision and healthy skin, hair, and nails; assists in formation of antibodies and red blood cells; aids in carbohydrate,|
|fat, and protein metabolism|
|Vitamin B-3 (Niacinamide)||Reduces cholesterol levels in the blood; maintains healthy skin, tongue, and digestive system; improves blood circulation; increases|
|Vitamin B-5||Fortifies white blood cells; helps the body's resistance to stress; builds cells|
|Vitamin B-6 (Pyridoxine)||Aids in the synthesis and breakdown of amino acids and the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates; supports the central nervous|
|system; maintains healthy skin|
|Vitamin B-12 (Cobalamin)||Promotes growth in children; prevents anemia by regenerating red blood cells; aids in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats, and|
|proteins; maintains healthy nervous system|
|Biotin||Aids in the metabolism of proteins and fats; promotes healthy skin|
|Choline||Helps the liver eliminate toxins|
|Folic Acid (Folate, Folacin)||Promotes the growth and reproduction of body cells; aids in the formation of red blood cells and bone marrow|
|Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)||One of the major antioxidants; essential for healthy teeth, gums, and bones; helps to heal wounds, fractures, and scar tissue; builds|
|resistance to infections; assists in the prevention and treatment of the common cold; prevents scurvy|
|Vitamin D||Improves the absorption of calcium and phosphorous (essential in the formation of healthy bones and teeth) maintains nervous|
|Vitamin E||A major antioxidant; supplies oxygen to blood; provides nourishment to cells; prevents blood clots; slows cellular aging|
|Vitamin K (Menadione)||Prevents internal bleeding; reduces heavy menstrual flow|
the failure to consume meat, milk or other dairy products. Vitamin B12 deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia and, if severe enough, can result in irreversible nerve damage. Niacin deficiency results in pellagra. Pellagra involves skin rashes and scabs, diarrhea, and mental depression. Thiamin deficiency results in beriberi, a disease resulting in atrophy, weakness of the legs, nerve damage, and heart failure. Vitamin C deficiency results in scurvy, a disease that involves bleeding. Specific diseases uniquely associated with deficiencies in vitamin B6, riboflavin, or pantothenic acid have not been found in the humans, though persons who have been starving, or consuming poor diets for several months, might be expected to be deficient in most of the nutrients, including vitamin B6, riboflavin, and pantothenic acid.
Some of the vitamins serve only one function in the body, while other vitamins serve a variety of unrelated functions. Hence, some vitamin deficiencies tend to result in one type of defect, while other deficiencies result in a variety of problems.