Vitamins are an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. They are organic substances that are necessary for normal cell function, growth, and development. Vitamins are found mainly in food and come in two forms: fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K) dissolve in fat and can build up in the body, while water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and B vitamins, such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate) must dissolve in water before they can be absorbed and cannot be stored.
Deficiencies of different vitamins can harm health in different ways. Vitamins have different functions to help the body continue to function properly. Some vitamins help resist infections and keep nerves healthy, while others can help the body get energy from food or help blood clot properly. If you follow the Dietary Guidelines, you will get enough of most of these vitamins from food. Inadequate intake of specific vitamins can lead to a characteristic deficiency disease (hypovitaminosis), and the severity depends on the degree of vitamin deprivation. In 1910, Japanese scientist Umetaro Suzuki isolated the first vitamin complex, who managed to extract a water-soluble complex of micronutrients from rice bran and called it aberic acid (later Orizanin).
In 1929, Paul Karrer clarified the correct structure of beta-carotene, the main precursor of vitamin A, and identified other carotenoids. In 1930, Christiaan Eijkman and Frederick Gowland Hopkins were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their contributions to the discovery of vitamins. The common and chemical names of vitamins of both groups, along with their main biological functions and deficiency symptoms, are listed in the table. Yoder is credited with first using the term vitamania in 1942 to describe the appeal of relying on nutritional supplements rather than obtaining vitamins from a varied diet of foods. Many people in the United States take multivitamins and other supplements, although they may not be necessary or useful. The best way to get all the vitamins you need daily is to eat a balanced diet that contains a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, fortified dairy products, legumes (dried beans), lentils, and whole grains.