What are vitamins and what do they do?

The vitamins They are chemical substances that cannot be synthesized by the body, and that are present in small amounts in food, being essential for life and daily activities that people carry out. For instance: vitamin A, vitamin B3, vitamin C.

Vitamins were discovered in the first decade of the twentieth century by the English biochemist Frederick Hopkins, who considered them simple accessory factors of diet: the discovery came from noting that some diseases that people fell into were often due to a lack of substances.

mandarins - vitamins

Classification of vitamins

Quickly with the discovery of vitamins came their first classification, according to the way they are absorbed in the body.

  • Water soluble vitamins (C, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B8, B9, B12). They are those that dissolve in water, making their consumption more strict because washing and cooking food produces its loss.
  • Fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, K). Instead, they are those that dissolve in fats and oils and when they enter the body they are stored in the adipose tissues that it has, as well as in the liver.

Importance of vitamins

VITAMINS - vegetables vegetables

The function of each of the vitamins, whether of either type, is special and irreplaceable. It is for this reason that when a mismatch in their levels, by defect or excess, the organism cannot work well and then alterations occur.

The function of most vitamins is to collaborate, in an essential way, with chemical reactions as coenzymes or as cofactors. The transformation of food in energy, for example, is due to this type of reaction that could not occur without the action of vitamins.

Missing vitamins

When a person consumes less vitamins than the required amount, they often begin to suffer decay problems, anemia or depression, as well as some possible problems in the digestive system. This is further reinforced if the person suffering from vitamin deficiency is a pregnant person, as it can have serious drawbacks in the development of the child.

Excess vitamins

When vitamins are incorporated in excess, the aforementioned division is important since:

  • The vitamins water soluble they are quickly eliminated in the urine (and then they will not be able to cause any problem except that arising from an overstress on the kidneys).
  • The vitamins fat soluble they become toxic when they are in excessive amounts accumulating in adipose tissues and in the liver.

List of vitamins

vitamin chart

At present there are 13 vitamins discovered, and it is not ruled out that new ones may appear with technological advances. The name of each of them will be detailed below, together with their function and their recommended requirement, expressed as an average over time and recommended for people between 19 and 50 years old according to the United States Institute of Medicine. :

  1. Vitamin A (900 micrograms for men, 700 micrograms for women). It works as an antioxidant and participates in the formation of hormones.
  2. Vitamin D (5 micrograms). It helps to preserve the bones, because it facilitates the correct use of calcium.
  3. Vitamin E (15 milligrams). It is an antioxidant, which helps maintain cell membranes.
  4. Vitamin K (120 milligrams for men, 90 milligrams for women). It is used in blood clotting and calcium ligaments.
  5. Vitamin B1 (1.2 milligrams for men, 1.1 milligrams for women). Contributes to growth and regulates cardiac functions.
  6. Vitamin B2 (1.3 milligrams for men, 1.1 milligrams for women). It is necessary for the metabolism of fatty acids and amino acids.
  7. Vitamin B3 (16 milligrams for men, 14 milligrams for women). It contributes to the detoxification of the body, it intervenes in the digestive function.
  8. Vitamin B5 (5 milligrams). It is used in the synthesis of fatty acids and cholesterol.
  9. Vitamin B6 (1.3 milligrams). It is used in the metabolization of proteins, forming antibodies and synthesizing hormones.
  10. Vitamin B8 (30 micrograms). It is used by the body in the metabolism of food.
  11. Vitamin B9 (400 micrograms for men, 180 micrograms for women). It allows cell multiplication, thus intervening in nervous development.
  12. B12 vitamin (2.4 micrograms). It is involved in the synthesis of DNA and RNA.
  13. Vitamin C (90 milligrams for men, 75 milligrams for women). Produces collagen, a protein necessary for healing.