Vitamins are organic chemical compounds vital in tiny amounts to life and growth. (“Organic” is a chemical term designating compounds containing a carbon skeleton; the molecules of vitamins are made up of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and sometimes nitrogen.) They are essential nutrients and must be supplied through diet, since they either are not made in the body or are made in insufficient quantity.
A prolonged shortage of any of the vitamins can lead to a deficiency disease. However, all 13 vitamins can be obtained in adequate quantity from a well-chosen diet containing the Basic Four Food Groups. The work of vitamins is to help bring about the body’s chemical responses. They act as catalysts in the processing of other nutrients (proteins, fats, and carbohydrates), help form red blood cells and hormones, create genetic materials, and regulate the nervous system.
Vitamins fall into two groups: the water-soluble vitamins (B complex and C) and the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K). The water-soluble ones are widely found in plant and animal tissues, but some of them are destroyed to a variable degree during the processing of foods and in cooking.
Being water-soluble, these vitamins are easily eliminated from the body in sweat or urine; since only small amounts are stored, they must be steadily present in the diet. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are less widely distributed in nature. Being fat-soluble and not soluble in water, they are not easily excreted and can even build up to toxic levels over a period of time if substantially more than the Recommended A Nutrition Glossary Organic. Compounds that contain carbon, such as vitamins, carbohydrates, proteins, fats.