Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for the body to function properly. They help the body resist infections, keep nerves healthy, and convert food into energy. Vitamins also help the body get energy from food, heal wounds, strengthen bones, and repair cellular damage. There are two types of vitamins: fat-soluble and water-soluble.
Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E, and vitamin K) dissolve in fat and accumulate in the body, while water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and B vitamins, such as vitamin B6, vitamin B12, and folate) must be dissolved in water before they can be absorbed by the body and cannot be stored. A balanced diet that includes lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, good protein packages, and healthy fats should provide most of the nutrients needed for good health. However, not everyone manages to eat a healthy diet. In these cases, multivitamins can play an important role in meeting nutritional needs.
Vitamin deficiencies can increase the risk of developing certain health problems. Vitamin K deficiency is unlikely, except when fat is not properly absorbed or when certain medications are used. Calcium is more like a fat-soluble vitamin because it requires a transporter for absorption and transport. Vitamins have been the subject of controversy since their discovery in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. After years of observation, experimentation and trial and error, it was determined that some diseases were not caused by infections or toxins but by vitamin deficiencies.
The contributions of vitamins are as essential as those of major minerals such as calcium and phosphorus. Many people in the United States take multivitamins and other supplements, although they may not be necessary or helpful according to research. Vegetarian diets may miss some of the nutrients commonly found in meat and poultry, such as vitamin B12 and iron. Vitamin E is best obtained with a healthy diet that contains lots of fresh, minimally processed foods. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that must be absorbed from food each day to meet the recommended intake.
Newborn babies receive a booster to increase their vitamin K levels because they are born without bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract.