Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for our body. They initiate, regulate, and otherwise control the millions of chemical reactions going on in our body. Vitamins help the protein synthesis of tissue, and are part of the makeup and functioning of hormones. They are so vital to life they were named vitamins. You need at least thirteen vitamins, A, C, D, E, K, and eight B vitamins, and since your body can’t make them, you must get them in your diet.

Although they contain no calories and therefore provide no energy, they do cause the fuel to be released from the carbohydrates, fats and proteins we eat.

Vitamins are essential components of our diet, which we need in minuscule amounts compared to the macronutrients, carbohydrates, proteins, and fats, but they just as essential. Instead of being measured in gram amounts, they are needed only in the thousandths of a gram (milligram) or millionth of a gram (microgram). Thus they earn the description “micronutrient”. What they lack in amount, they make up for in importance.

Water and fat soluble vitamins

One way of classifying the vitamins is to separate them on the basis of whether they are soluble in water or fat. The fat soluble vitamins, A, E, D, and K are found in plant oils and fish. Because they are not solvent in water, they are not easily excreted from the body. Excess are stored in the liver and fat cells. They can build up over time and reach toxic levels. It allows you to go for days without having to ingest that vitamin since stores can be drawn on.

The other vitamins, vitamin C and the Bs are water soluble. That makes excesses easily picked up for excretion in the urine, makes them difficult to store in the body and toxic levels hard to reach. It necessitates their ingestion on a regular, almost daily, basis. It also means they are easily leached out in cooking water and so care must be used in cooking foods that contain them.

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