Vitamins are essential to our well-being. They can be found in animals and plants alike, we can even get them from the sun! There are 13 in total and all have various beneficial effects. Vitamin D and K are the only ones the body can produce by itself, other 11 have to be digested artificially. They’re not necessarily here to boost our energies, but to make our bodies function properly. They take care of a wide variety of things which help us as we go on with our lives. However, there’s a limit on how many vitamins we should consume. The quantities we need on a daily basis are small.
If you want to learn more, keep reading the article!
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Present in foods of both plant and animal origin, vitamins – there are 13 in total – are essential nutrients for humans. This means that they must be supplied to the body through the diet. Vitamins D and K are an exception here, as the body is also able to produce them itself. Vitamin D is formed inside the human skin under the influence of sunlight (UVB radiation), while vitamin K is formed in the intestine with the help of bacteria (it is not known to what extent this contributes to the total vitamin K requirement).
Unlike carbohydrates and dietary fats, vitamins are not a source of energy for our body, but they play a crucial role in the proper functioning of our body, both in terms of organs and the immune system. They are necessary for many metabolic processes and make a significant contribution to making the energy provided by carbohydrates and dietary fats available to the body. They also help the body in its growth, development, and maintenance of body tissues. They are also essential for vision (vitamin A), blood clotting (vitamin K), bone stability (vitamin D), and the formation of blood cells (vitamins B6, B12, and folate). Not forgetting, of course, vitamins E and C, whose role as antioxidants protects the body’s cells from free radicals.
Vitamins are essential to our health. However, the quantities we need are very small. To put it more simply: for every 70 kg of food eaten, a human being needs only 28 g of vitamins.
Vitamins are often absorbed in an inactive form (known as provitamins) before they take on their active, and therefore effective, form in our bodies. Vitamins C and E are exceptions to this, as the intestine already absorbs them in their biologically active form. The 13 vitamins are divided into two main groups: fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.
About 40-90% of the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are absorbed in the small intestine with the fat contained in the food. Except for vitamin K, our body does not easily eliminate fat-soluble vitamins but stores them in the liver and fat tissue for later use. For this reason, irregular absorption through food is generally sufficient.
The water-soluble vitamins, which include all the B vitamins and vitamin C, are almost completely, i.e. between 90 and 100%, absorbed in the small intestine, independently of dietary fat. In contrast to fat-soluble vitamins, water-soluble vitamins are relatively easily eliminated by the kidneys and partly by the intestine, which means they are hardly stored. Vitamins B12 and B6 are exceptions, however, as a deposit is formed in the liver. It is, therefore, necessary to take in water-soluble vitamins regularly through the diet.