Vitamins are organic compounds that are necessary for life. When our body does not produce enough, or does not produce any, of a compound we need for survival, and it must therefore be obtained through food, it is called a vitamin. We not only need vitamins to survive, but also to help us function at our peak efficiency.
The Two Groups
There are two different groups of vitamins. There are fat-soluble vitamins, which are stored in our fat tissues and liver. These stay with us for anywhere from a few days to a few months. Vitamins A, D, E, and K fall into this category.
The other category is water-soluble vitamins. Unfortunately, these vitamins have to be replaced more often since they get expelled through the urine. The water-soluble vitamins are vitamin C and all of the B vitamins.
The Thirteen Vitamins
- Vitamin A is also known as retinol. It can be found in: broccoli, pumpkin, milk, carrots, and sweet potatoes. Vitamin A deficiency may cause night-blindness and keratomalacia.
- Vitamin B1, also known as thiamine, can be found in sunflower seeds, asparagus, brown rice, yeast, pork, eggs, and cauliflower. Deficiency in this vitamin may cause beriberi and Wenicke-Korsakoffsyndrome.
- Vitamin B2 is known as riboflavin. A B2 deficiency may cause ariboflavinosis. Good sources of this vitamin are: asparagus, okra, yogurt, green beans, meat, and cottage cheese.
- Vitamin B3, known as niacin, can be found in leafy vegetables, carrots, sweet potatoes, whole grains, legumes, and meat. A B3 deficiency may cause pellagra.
- Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid. It is in whole grains, avocados, and meats. A deficiency may cause paresthesia.
- Vitamin B6, known as pyridoxamine, is in meats, bananas, nuts, and whole grains. A vitamin B6 deficiency may cause anemia or peripheral neuropathy.
- Vitamin B7 is also known as biotin. A deficiency may cause dermatitis and enteritis. It can be found in egg yolks and some vegetables.
- Vitamin B9 has the chemical name, folic acid, and can be found in some grain products, leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, and legumes. A deficiency may cause birth defects.
- Vitamin B12 is known as hydroxy-cobalamin. A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause megaloblastic anemia. Good sources of this vitamin are: meat, eggs, and dairy products, and some fortified and soy and cereal products.
- Vitamin C is known as ascorbic acid. A deficiency may cause megaloblastic anemia. It can be found in many fruit, vegetables, and liver.
- Vitamin D, also known as ergocalciferol, is found in eggs, fatty fish, beef liver, mushrooms, and sunlight. A deficiency may cause rickets and osteomalacia.
- Vitamin E, or tocopherols, can be derived from avocado, whole grains, nuts, leafy greens, vegetables, and milk.
- Vitamin K is also known as phylloquinone. A deficiency can cause bleeding diathesis. This vitamin can be found in avocados, kiwifruit, and parsley.
Vitamins can be obtained through foods. Most people do not get enough of a balanced diet to take care of their vitamin and mineral needs. To fill in the gaps, take vitamin supplements, like Two a Day Multivitamin and Clinical Nutrients for Females and Teens.