What are Vitamins?

Written by on June 19, 2012 in Health - No comments | Print this page


What are Vitamins?

What are vitamins? Of course, everyone one knows about vitamins. They are those little (and not so little) pills you take every day to stay healthy, right? Not exactly . . . There is certainly much more to vitamins than the preceding definition.

Firstly, vitamins are nutrients, not pills. These nutrients are needed by the body for organ growth and tissue maintenance. Vitamins are only needed in small amounts in the body and must be supplied by the diet. The body does not manufacture vitamins.

Fat-soluble Vitamins

Vitamins are divided into groups. Fat-soluble vitamins included vitamins A, E, D, and K. The body stores fat-soluble vitamins but they require the presence of fat in the intestines in order to be absorbed by the body. Individuals with problems absorbing fat can develop deficiencies of fat-soluble vitamins. Individuals taking frequent high-dose supplements can create a toxic condition in the body. For instance, excessive vitamin A can cause death in extreme cases.

Water-soluble Vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins include Vitamin C and the B-complex vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins must be replenished regularly for the body to function at its best. Water-soluble vitamins are easily absorbed by the body because of the fluid in the intestines. Because it is only stored in small amounts, it is easier for the body to become deficient if these vitamins are not present.

How Many Vitamins are There?

Currently, there are 13 known vitamins that the body needs to function optimally. Other substances, similar to vitamins, have also been identified to help the body maintain health and prevent disease. These substances include bioflavonoids, choline, carnitine, and taurine.  Researchers believe there may be other unknown vitamins and substances the body needs so recommend the consumption of a variety of foods to receive complete nutrition for the body.

What is the Best Way to Get Vitamins?

The best way to get vitamins into the body is to eat a balanced diet of nutritious foods.  Food is the most effective source for meeting dietary vitamin requirements.  Fruits and vegetables, in particular, are an excellent source o f most vitamins. Lean protein and fiber are also needed. Fats from plant-based sources such as avocado, nuts and seeds add nutritional value to the diet.

Look to the garden and not to the pharmacy when it comes to vitamin intake. Synthetic multi-vitamin dependency can actually leave the body void of energy, in spite of what is claimed on the bottle.

What are vitamins, in your opinion? Please feel free to share below.


About the Author

Loraine R. Dégraff

Loraine is a passionate health and wellness writer and is particularly interested in working with the body through diet and nutrition. She currently lives in Queens, NY with her husband and 5 children and would love to talk "health" with you. View all posts with Health Tips.