Vitamins and your health


What are vitamins?
Vitamins are organic compounds found in food which are essential for growth and
maintenance of life. They are classified into two groups—Fat soluble (vitamins A, D, E, K)
and water soluble (the B complex vitamins, vitamin C).
What functions do they perform in the body?
Vitamins function in many metabolic reactions which take place as food is utilized in
the body. The fat soluble vitamins act as regulators of specific metabolic activity and the
water soluble vitamins function as coenzymes. Coenzymes combine with a protein to form
enzymes which promote release and utilization of energy. The energy comes from mainly
carbohydrate and fat, then protein and not from the vitamins.
What is the source of vitamins?
Nearly all foods contain a mixture of vitamins. However, specific foods are known to
be very good sources of some vitamins. For example, citrus fruits contain large amounts of
vitamin C, but they also supply small amounts of other vitamins and minerals as well. There is
no perfect food. Milk has been advertised as nature's most perfect food, but milk supplies
virtually no iron or vitamin C. The very best source of a balanced supply of all vitamins is a
diet which consists of a variety of different foods.
How can you tell if you get enough vitamins?
Standards and guides have been established for estimating the amount of vitamins
which individuals should get per day. The recommended Dietary Allowances (RDA's)
provide the best scientific information on vitamin requirements. Food guides such as the four
food groups indicate the number of servings of foods from groups which will likely

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