Vitamins are essential nutrients that our bodies need to develop and function normally. They are organic compounds, meaning they contain carbon, and are divided into two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble. Water-soluble vitamins are found in the watery portions of the food we eat and are absorbed directly into the bloodstream during digestion. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, enter the blood through lymphatic channels in the intestinal wall.
Water-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin C and B12, circulate easily in the body and are eliminated through urine. They need to be replenished every few days. Fat-soluble vitamins, such as Vitamin A and E, are stored in fatty tissues and the liver, and released as needed. Having too little of any particular vitamin can increase the risk of developing certain health problems.
For example, a lack of Vitamin C can lead to scurvy, while a lack of Vitamin D can lead to rickets. It is important to get vitamins from a varied and balanced diet containing lots of fruits and vegetables. However, cooking, storing and exposing them to air can inactivate these more fragile compounds, making it more difficult for them to be absorbed by the body. Vitamins play different roles in the body, and a person needs a different amount of each vitamin to stay healthy.
For example, humans need to get Vitamin C from their diets, while dogs can produce all the Vitamin C they need. It is important to be careful not to exceed the maximum dose of any vitamin as taking too much can cause health problems.