The Essential Role of Vitamins in Biology

Vitamins are an essential group of substances that are required for normal cell function, growth, and development. These vitamins are necessary for the body to operate properly and are not produced in our bodies, but must be obtained from the foods we eat. Vitamin C is an organic compound known as ascorbic acid, which is an antioxidant and regulates metabolic processes such as the synthesis of amino acids and hormones, and maintains a healthy immune system. The vitamins corresponding to the letters F—J were reclassified, dismissed, or renamed due to their relationship with vitamin B, which became a vitamin complex.

Vitamins are a key part of a balanced diet, as they cannot be synthesized in the human body. Therefore, diets should include a combination of green leafy vegetables, whole grains, fruits, meats and other components to provide all the essential vitamins needed by the human body. Minerals are also required in similar amounts to vitamins, however, unlike vitamins which are organic compounds, minerals are elements such as iron, zinc and magnesium. Eating well is especially important now because the body needs a variety of vitamins and minerals to grow and stay healthy. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant to prevent oxidative stress and damage caused by free radicals, protecting the phospholipid membrane (or cell membrane) of cells.

Vitamins differ from the other three categories of essential nutrients: fats, proteins, and carbohydrates. The discovery of vitamins began in 1912 by the Polish-American biochemist Casimir Funk. Insufficient or excess amounts of a particular element or compound such as vitamins can disrupt normal physiological activities. In the 1950s, most vitamins and multivitamins were available for sale to the general public to prevent deficiencies, and some received good publicity in popular magazines such as cod liver oil containing vitamin D being promoted as bottled sunlight. Vitamins and minerals boost the immune system, promote normal growth and development, and help cells and organs do their jobs. In 1943, Edward Adelbert Doisy and Henrik Dam received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery of vitamin K and its chemical structure.

Water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and B-complex vitamins such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate) must dissolve in water before they can be absorbed by the body and therefore cannot be stored. To learn more about vitamins, their different types, sources, deficiency and other related topics in BYJU'S Biology.

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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