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Vitamins – What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are an organic compound required for proper functioning of all bodily functions. They were named as Vitamins as initially they were assumed to only amines, so ‘vital’ ‘amines’ became vitamins. However vitamins are vastly diversified chemical compounds. Another generic definition of a vitamins are ‘those chemical compounds that cannot be synthesized in sufficient quantities by an organism’. The problem though is there are certain vitamins which can be produced by animals but not by human and vice versa. So to keep it simple we can define it as a complex organic chemical compound that is absolutely essential for proper functioning of the body. So we need to make sure that we consume a balanced diet that is rich in these vitamins.

List of Vitamins:

Though there are numerous organic chemical compounds that fall in to the category of vitamins, there are thirteen vitamins that are universally recognized. See the following table for the vitamins, their sources and diseases caused due to deficiency. (You can individually click on the vitamins to know everything about these vitamins)

Vitamins Technical Name Sources* Diseases due to deficiency
Vitamin A Retinol, retinal, carotenoids Milk, Buttermilk, Carrots, Papaya, Mango. Night Blindness
Vitamin B1 Thiamine Flax, oatmeal, brown rice, oranges, cauliflower Cardiovascular diseases, brain damage and organ failures
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin corn, bananas, okra, milk, yogurt, green beans Broken lips, scaly skin, itchy eyes
Vitamin B3 Niacin Green leafy vegetables, whole grain, carrots, dates Pellagra
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic Acid Rice bran, wheat bran, peanuts, broccoli, yeast Rare (reduced growth in kids, neurological issues)
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine Whole grains, nuts, dragon fruit Cardiovascular diseases
Vitamin B7 Biotin Saskatoon berries, peanuts and fresh vegetables Hair loss, Conjunctivitis and Dermatitis
Vitamin B9 Folic Acid Leafy vegetables, sunflower seeds, peas, lentils diarrhea, depression, anemia
Vitamin B12 Cobalamins Whole milk, buttermilk, wheat grass, barley grass pernicious anemia, brain and nervous damage
Vitamin C Ascorbic Acid All fruits and Vegetables Scurvy
Vitamin D Calciferol Yeast, Mushrooms radiated with UV rays, and sunlight Rickets and Osteomalacia
Vitamin E Tocopherol walnuts, peanuts, wheat germ oil, olive oil, carrot neuromuscular problems and anemia
Vitamin K1 Phylloquinone Grapes, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, and brussels sprouts Cirrhosis,osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s
* Alternativemedicinewiz.com promotes lacto-vegetarianism, so the sources given are predominantly vegetarian


Classification of Vitamins:

Another thing about vitamins is they need not be a single compound but a group of compounds which helps in a certain biological function, like Vitamin A (Retinol, retinal, and few carotenoids are all termed as vitamin A) . Some vitamins are strong antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C. Vitamins are also classified as Fat soluble and water soluble vitamins. Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble vitamins, so a diet with zero fan will result in very poor absorption of these vitamins and hence could result in vitamin deficiency. Vitamin C and B complex are water soluble vitamins and that is why people are advised not to waste the water which they used to cook the vegetables as vitamin C and B complex will be lost along with the water.

Vitamin Supplements and Dosages:

What are vitaminsThere is a huge hype going around the nutrition industry today about overdose of vitamins. One should not worry about the overdose of vitamins, as dietary source will never lead to a overdose of vitamins, one can feel relatively very safe if they are lacto-vegetarians as there is literally no possibility of a vitamin overdose. One should be vary about vitamin overdose if an only if they are taking vitamin supplements, and at alternativemedicinewiz we don’t recommend supplements, supplements should be sought as a treatment for conditions or when there is a clear lack of vitamins in the food that you consume.

So, select a balanced diet which supplies you with all micro-nutrients and cook them the right way. However if you don’t have access to fresh vegetables and fruits and other sources rich in vitamins, you can opt for a supplement. However read more about the risks involved using a supplement before opting for supplements.

About the author


Ajithkumar, an Engineer and a management professional is the founder of AlternativeMedicineWiz.com. He’s practiced Yoga and Pranayama for more than a decade, after learning it from his renowned guru Gireeshan. He has a keen interest in Ayurveda and Siddha medicine.

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