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What Are Vitamins? Types, Sources And Functions? » Science ABC

Ever since childhood, we’ve possible been advised by our moms to drink glass of orange juice with breakfast, or have a handful of carrots as a snack. If we dare to say no, they might launch into horror tales of needing glasses, dropping our eyesight, or even going blind! Now, wanting again, I perceive why my mother pressured sure vegatables and fruits down my throat.

Principally, they’re rich in certain compounds that our physique wants for regular improvement and progress. Our physique is sensible with regards to being a self-reliant machine and producing virtually every part that we’d like, however in terms of these compounds, the physique falls brief and wishes slightly help from our weight loss plan. These compounds, although needed in minute quantities, are absolutely essential for our our bodies. As you might have guessed by now, these are referred to as nutritional vitamins.

What are vitamins?

To shortly summarize the above info into a formal definition, it is protected to say that Nutritional vitamins are:

  • Natural compounds distinct from fat, carbohydrates, and proteins and aren’t synthesized by our body in amounts needed to satisfy our physiological calls for.
  • They are natural elements of foods, by which they are present in minute portions.
  • They are essential, however wanted in only minute quantities by our bodies for progress, improvement, and so on.
  • Their absence or underutilization in our physique results in deficiency syndromes manifested by numerous medical symptoms.

Typically, even our dietary consumption is unable to offer the required amounts of nutritional vitamins, during which case we need to eat vitamin tablets to make sure the traditional functioning of our body. When you examine our our bodies to a totally practical family, you’ll be able to think of nutritional vitamins as the butlers or maids who come from outdoors the house, but are important for the graceful functioning of the household.

Varieties of vitamins and their stability

Thus far, 13 substances have been acknowledged as nutritional vitamins. These embrace A, C, D, E, and Okay, as well as the B nutritional vitamins: thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), pyridoxal (B6), cobalamin (B12), biotin, and folate/folic acid. Nutritional vitamins are categorized based mostly on their solubility as fat-soluble or water-soluble nutritional vitamins. The fat-soluble nutritional vitamins embrace vitamin A, D, E and Okay, whereas Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, and C are water-soluble vitamins. Fats-soluble vitamins are saved in the fat tissues of the body and remain within the adipose tissues till they’re needed. Water-soluble vitamins are poorly saved in the body, so if an individual’s consumption is larger than what’s required by the body, these vitamins are excreted within the urine. Since fat-soluble vitamins will not be excreted similarly, an over-consumption of fat-soluble nutritional vitamins leads to hypervitaminosis. Fats-soluble vitamins exhibit some widespread traits, e.g., they’re all composed either solely or primarily of five-carbon isoprenoid models derived from acetyl-CoA. Then again, water-soluble nutritional vitamins lack any similarity of construction and are a very heterogeneous group of drugs.

Every vitamin compound possesses totally different bodily and chemical properties, lots of that are affected by the circumstances during which they are produced and saved. A vitamin that is properly saved is able to sustaining its full organic potential for years. Elements that contribute to losses of vitamin properties are encountered at totally different levels of manufacturing, storage and meal preparation; these elements embrace pH worth, oxygen, mild, temperature, water content and interactions with other nutritional vitamins.

Sources and Features

Our our bodies are incapable of manufacturing nutritional vitamins in enough portions wanted for correct progress and improvement, but thankfully, nutritional vitamins occur naturally in lots of foods that we eat each day. Sure foods are wealthy in certain vitamins and lack others, so it’s necessary to know what meals offers which vitamins so we will make a acutely aware effort to eat a balanced weight-reduction plan and fulfill our bodily necessities.

Vitamin A

Many foods include the fat-soluble vitamin A, often in the type of retinyl acetate or retinyl palmitate (pre-formed vitamin A), beta-carotene (provitamin A) or some mixture of each.

Sources – Foods rich in vitamin A embrace sweet potatoes, carrots, pumpkins, spinach, mangoes, broccoli, apricots, liver, eggs, shrimp, fish, fortified milk and butter.

(Photograph Credit score : Evan Lorne/Shutterstock)

Benefits and deficiencies – Vitamin A is important for good vision, boosts our immune system, and helps our lungs, kidneys and coronary heart perform properly. Nevertheless, it is principally related to eye issues and is estimated to have an effect on tens of millions of youngsters worldwide; probably the most outstanding symptoms of a vitamin A deficiency are night time blindness and xerophthalmia. In truth, a deficiency of vitamin A is now acknowledged as an important reason for childhood blindness in creating nations. Briefly, eat all of the carrots your mom has to supply so you’ll be able to take a look at the world without any hassle!

Vitamin B

This group consists of multiple vitamin and they are named as follows:

  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamin)
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid)
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine)
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin)
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic acid)
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin)

Sources – Meat, poultry, fish, milk, cheese, eggs, fortified cereals, fortified soy milk, legumes, tofu, inexperienced leafy vegetables, grains, and cereals are all good dietary sources of vitamin B.

Benefits and deficiencies

Nutritional vitamins B1, B2, B3, and B5 usually assist in converting the food we eat into power. These nutritional vitamins also play an necessary position in maintaining healthy pores and skin, hair, muscular tissues, and brain perform. A deficiency of vitamin B1 causes a disease referred to as beriberi, though it is uncommon in developed nations, because the meals there’s extra generally fortified and enriched with vitamins. Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid also helps in making neurotransmitters, hemoglobin, steroid hormones and lipids.

Vitamin B6 and B12 assist in decreasing homocysteine levels and assist in decreasing the danger of coronary heart problems. Vitamin B6 additionally performs an essential position in helping us sleep higher, regulating our mood and urge for food; a deficiency of this vitamin may cause convulsions and typically neurological issues. Vitamin B12 encourages the traditional progress of nerve cells and helps within the era of pink blood cells. A person with a deficiency in vitamin B12 suffers from pernicious anemia. Vitamin B7, aside from changing food into power, can also be wanted for healthy bones and hair. Vitamin B9 or folic acid is extremely essential during being pregnant, as it prevents the fetus from creating neural tube defects, i.e., mind and spinal start defects. Ladies of childbearing age ought to repeatedly eat folic acid to stop such defects.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C in fruits and vegetables. Natural products rich in vitamin C as oranges, lemons, dried fruits rose, red pepper, kiwi, parsley leaves, garlic, bananas, pears, apples, walnuts, chili. - Image( Evan Lorne)s

(Photograph Credit score : Evan Lorne/Shutterstock)

We frequently go to our dentist complaining of bleeding gums and worry what the dentist might say subsequent. Nicely, often, all that is required is a supplement of ascorbic acid or vitamin C to enhance the state of affairs. Vitamin C performs an necessary position in preserving our gums and blood vessels in fine condition. It also strengthens our immunity and prevents us from getting sick too ceaselessly.

Sources – Fruits and fruit juices (especially citrus), potatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, spinach, strawberries, tomatoes, and Brussels sprouts are all Vitamin C-rich sources.

Benefits and deficiencies

(Photograph Credit score : Aleksandr Markin/Shutterstock)

As mentioned earlier, vitamin C helps to maintain our blood vessels healthy and does so by making collagen, a connective tissue that helps blood vessel partitions and helps in healing wounds. Vitamin C additionally acts as an antioxidant, strengthens our immune system, and even helps to guard towards sure cancers. A deficiency in vitamin C might be recognized by the presence of dry, bumpy skin that can also be susceptible to bruising and demonstrates sluggish wound healing because of hampered collagen manufacturing. A extreme type of vitamin C deficiency known as scurvy, which is characterised by swollen, bleeding gums that may ultimately lead to tooth loss!

Vitamin D

This can be a fat-soluble vitamin that helps the body take up calcium. Provided that calcium is the primary building block of our bones, vitamin D has a direct impression on the health and power of our bones and tooth. It’s also wanted by our muscle tissues to maneuver and by our nerves to hold messages.

Vitamin D concept - Image(Pixelbliss)

(Photograph Credit : Pixelbliss/Shutterstock)

Sources – Only a few meals naturally have vitamin D. It’s primarily synthesized by our body once we immediately expose our pores and skin to the sun. In the event you’re not capable of meet your requirement for vitamin D on this approach, chances are you’ll have to supplement your intake by way of your weight loss plan or dietary supplements.

Benefits and deficiencies

Vitamin D helps to manage and keep regular ranges of calcium and phosphorus, which in flip strengthens our bones and tooth. People who fail to keep their vitamin D ranges are likely to develop brittle, mushy bones which are vulnerable to fracture. If this condition strikes throughout childhood, it leads to rickets, whereas if it hits you in adult life, you could develop circumstances like osteomalacia and osteoporosis. It’s essential to keep in mind that vitamin D is a fat-soluble vitamin and does not get excreted if it accumulates within the physique. This typically results in hypervitaminosis or vitamin D toxicity, which can cause you to expertise nausea, vomiting, poor appetite, weak spot, weight reduction, constipation, confusion, disorientation, and so forth. Keep in mind that such toxicity often only results from an extreme use of supplements, not by overexposure to sunlight, as our our bodies know learn how to restrict and regulate its sun-induced synthesis of vitamin D.

Vitamin E

Foods rich in vitamin E such as wheat germ oil, dried wheat germ, dried apricots, hazelnuts, almonds, parsley leaves, avocado, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, spinach and green paprika - Image( Evan Lorne)s

(Photograph Credit : Evan Lorne/Shutterstock)

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin that mainly acts as an antioxidant. For many who don’t know about antioxidants, permit me to elucidate. When the meals we eat is converted into power, free radicals are shaped. These free radicals are unstable atoms with unpaired electrons. They’re additionally all the time on the lookout for an electron so it could possibly pair up and attain stability; whereas doing so, they hunt and scavenge the body, leading to injury and irritation. Antioxidants play an essential position by offering these unstable free radicals with an electron so that they are paired, joyful and fewer damaging to our bodies. Free radicals are usually related to growing older, whereas Vitamin E, in this case, is related to anti-aging effects on our pores and skin, which is why it is included in so many skin care creams.


Leafy inexperienced greens, entire grains, nuts, vegetable oils like sunflower, canola and olive oil, salad dressings, and so on. are all good choices so that you can get your dose of vitamin E.

Benefits and deficiencies

Aside from stabilizing free radicals by means of antioxidant motion, vitamin E also strengthens the immune system and helps widen blood vessels, thereby stopping blood clots. Some studies have also advised that vitamin E may assist to stop or decelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s illness. A deficiency of vitamin E could be very uncommon and often happens in circumstances where fat isn’t being absorbed correctly, resembling in the case of Crohn’s illness. Indicators of Vitamin E deficiency embrace a weakened immune system, nerve and muscle injury, and a loss of sensation within the arms and legs.

Vitamin Okay

This can be a fat-soluble vitamin required by our physique’s clotting mechanism. It prompts proteins and calcium, that are important for blood clotting. With an excellent quantity of vitamin Okay in your system, you don’t need to fret about bleeding out every time you get a minimize.


Cabbage, eggs, milk, liver, sprouts, kale, spinach, broccoli and different inexperienced greens are wonderful dietary sources of vitamin Okay.

Benefits and deficiencies

Aside from maintaining our clotting system up and operating, vitamin Okay additionally helps maintain our bones robust and makes us less vulnerable to hip fractures and osteoporosis. Vitamin Okay deficiency makes individuals extra vulnerable to bruising and bleeding, since a scarcity of vitamin Okay will make your blood take longer to clot. Caution must be exercised as regards to the intake of vitamin Okay should you’re on blood thinners, as too little vitamin Okay may cause bleeding, whereas an excess of it is going to trigger blood clots.


Based mostly on all the above info, it’s clear that a healthy balanced food regimen will lead to a healthy and pleased body. These nutritional vitamins, although wanted in minute quantities, are extraordinarily important aides for our physique. Persistently consuming vitamin-rich meals like fruits, greens, and entire grains will assist decrease your danger for circumstances corresponding to heart illness, stroke, diabetes, bone issues and certain types of cancer!


  1. The Nutritional vitamins By Gerald F. Combs
  2. Nutritional vitamins By Wilhelm Friedrich
  3. National Institutes Of Health (NIH)
  4. Harvard College