What Are Vitamins

Vitamins Definition, Functions and Their importance in the body.  Why vitamins are used / good for? Why We Need Vitamins.

What are Vitamins:-

INTRODUCTION

Vitamins are a class of organic compounds categorized as essential nutrients.  Vitamins are calorie-free molecules and are required by the body in very small amounts. They fall in the category of micronutrients. Vitamins do not yield energy but enable the body to use other nutrients. Since the body is generally unable to synthesize them (at least in sufficient amounts) they must be provided by food. A well balanced diet supplies in most instances the vitamin needs of a healthy person.

A common misconception is that "vitamins give you energy." The truth is, vitamins help with the metabolic reaction that releases energy within the food molecules, making them the directors of cell processes. But if the body has an adequate supply of vitamins to help with the creation of energy, taking more will not make you more energetic.


HISTORY of Vitamins:

Frederick G. Hopkins, a biochemist at Cambridge University, England, and a Nobel Prize winner, reported in 1906 that there was an unknown something in food essential for life and health. In 1912, he had experimental data that supported this statement.

Casimir Funk, a Polish chemist, obtained an antiberiberi substance from rice polishings. He believed that the active factor that he found was a protein, i.e., an “amino”. Since he considered this amino to be the vital element in the food, he called it a “vitamine.” It was found that very few of these “vitamines” were truly protein so the final ‘e’ was dropped. Vitamin discovery, both accidental and deliberate, was spread out over 40 years. By 1940, all 13 currently recognized vitamins had been discovered and given a sequential letter of the alphabet.

Definition : A vitamin is defined as an organic compound that is required in diet in small amounts for the maintenance of normal metabolic integrity.

As new vitamins were discovered, successive letters of the alphabet were assigned to them. However, in some cases a letter was used because it was the first letter of a word describing the principle characteristic of the vitamin. For example, vitamin K, which is concerned with the coagulation of blood, was derived from the Scadinavian word koagulation.

Deficiency causes a specific disease which is cured or prevented by restoring the vitamin to the diet. However, vitamin D, which can be made in the skin after exposure to sunlight, and niacin which can be formed from the essential amino acid tryptophan, do not strictly conform to this definition.

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