Vitamins are basically organic compounds that are required as vital nutrients by an organism in limited amounts. When an organic chemical compound cannot be synthesized by an organism in sufficient amounts, and thus has to be consumed through its diet then that compound it is classified as a vitamin. The term is therefore conditional on both – the circumstances as well as the specific organism. To illustrate this point let us take Vitamin C for instance. It is also known as ascorbic acid and is vital for humans, but it is not vital for most other creatures.
Vitamin as a term does not refer to other essential nutrients like essential fatty acids, dietary minerals or essential amino acids (these are required in larger quantities than vitamins). Neither do vitamins comprise of the several varieties of other nutrients that certainly promote good health but are only required in lesser quantities. Presently the medical community recognizes thirteen vitamins.
To better explain what vitamins do for us, the names and chief functions of nine main vitamins are listed below:
Promotes good eyesight, appetite, growth and taste. A person note getting enough Vitamin A in their diet is likely to suffer from night blindness.
Keeps nervous system, muscles, digestion, and heart running in fine condition. Deficiency of this vitamin can be indicated by difficulty in maintaining balance, loss of appetite, quick exhaustion and weak concentration among other symptoms.
Helps overall growth, and in maintaining healthy hair, eyesight, skin and nails. It also keeps lips and tongue appropriately sensitive and helps in the regular breakdown of fat, protein and carbohydrates.
This vitamin helps the body absorb sufficient carbohydrates and proteins besides preventing skin conditions and problems in the nerves.
This one is important for generating red blood cells and forming nerves. Fatigue and tiredness besides anaemia and memory problems will indicate the deficiency of this vitamin.
Among its many function it helps keep up the immune defence system, and protects us from bacteria. It also assists in lowering cholesterol, increasing cell lifespan, preventing scurvy and healing wounds.
Helps with growing and maintaining strong teeth and bones. Often children in impoverished states who do not get enough Vitamin D early on begin suffering from rickets and osteomalacia (weakening of the bones).
This vitamin helps fight toxins. It is commonly known to be a powerful antioxidant. Without this vitamin a person is likely to develop weakness in their muscles and fertility complications.
This should be consumed for the regular and sufficient production of red blood cells. It happens to be especially essential in the first 3 months of pregnancy in order to prevent any birth defects in the baby such as clefta palate, spina bifida, etc.
We hope this article has been information on the topic of ‘what do vitamins do?’ If you have further interest in the topic, there are innumerable books and sources online to quench your curiosity on the subject.