The 13 Essential Vitamins: What They Are and What They Do

Vitamins are essential for the body to grow and function properly. There are 13 essential vitamins that are necessary for the body to function optimally: vitamins A, C, D, E, K and B vitamins (thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, B6, B12 and folic acid). Each vitamin has a different role in helping the body to work correctly. The eight B vitamins, also known as the B-complex vitamins, are responsible for regulating a variety of crucial functions in the body.

These include metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and proteins; cell growth and DNA production; and maintaining a healthy nervous system. Deficiencies in B vitamins can lead to fatigue, mental health issues, nerve deterioration and inflammation. In addition to the B-complex vitamins, there are five other essential vitamins: vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamine), vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin B7 (biotin), vitamin B9 (folic acid) and vitamin C. Vitamin D and vitamin E are also important for good health.

Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting. Micronutrients are nutrients that a person needs in small doses. Micronutrients are made up of vitamins and minerals. Although the body only needs small amounts of them, a deficiency can cause health problems.

The six essential nutrients are vitamins, minerals, proteins, fats, water and carbohydrates. A person who follows a diet rich in vegetables, fruits and lean proteins can get all the vitamins they need from their food. However, people who eat less fruit and vegetables or those with digestive problems may need to take a vitamin supplement to reduce or avoid a deficiency. It is important to understand the different types of vitamins and their purpose for good health. For example, a lack of vitamin C can cause scurvy – a deficiency disease characterized by symptoms such as bleeding gums.

To learn more about vitamins, their sources and deficiency diseases related to them, visit our dedicated center. For more detailed resources on vitamins, minerals and supplements, visit BYJU'S Biology for an in-depth look at each of the 13 essential vitamins – what they are and what they do.

Ben Liebhardt
Ben Liebhardt

Amateur travel fanatic. General web buff. Certified travel junkie. Twitter nerd. Infuriatingly humble web practitioner. Certified beer nerd.

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