When we hear the phrase “vitamin,” a container of pills flashes through our minds. Similarly, we wrongly apply this phrase to all nutritional supplements and frequently mix together minerals and vitamins. Vitamins are not medicines, you can buy them in online pharmacies without a doctor’s recipe. By the way, medicine delivery is so popular nowadays.
A human requires exactly 13 vitamins, all of which are organic elements that we obtain naturally from diet.
What are vitamins?
4 vitamins are fat-soluble, which means that they need fats to be absorbed (do not confuse with “absorption” – everything is spelled correctly) in the body:
- A (retinol)
- D (cholecalciferol),
- E (tocopherol),
- K (phylloquinone).
Another aspect of fat-soluble vitamins, as we learned in biology class, is that their excess is difficult to eliminate; the body cannot readily get rid of them, for example, through urine. An overabundance of fat-soluble vitamins can be hazardous, even lethal.
- C (ascorbic acid)
and eight vitamins, united in group B:
- B1 (thiamine),
- B2 (riboflavin),
- B3 (niacin),
- B5 (pantothenic acid),
- B6 (pyridoxine),
- B7 (biotin, sometimes called vitamin H),
- B9 (folate, or folic acid),
- B12 (cobalamin).
Choline is sometimes listed as the fourteenth vitamin, however we usually see a list of thirteen items. (Some vitamins exist in multiple chemical forms, in which case scientists are referring to the most prevalent or relevant alternative.)
Why do you need vitamins?
Vitamins, unlike the fundamental components of food (fats, proteins, and carbs), do not burn as fuel in the body; instead, they help carry out the most important chemical activities that keep our bodies alive.
That is why vitamins are defined as irreplaceable microcomponents of food – irreplaceable, because the body cannot do without them, but at the same time is not able to synthesize them on its own in sufficient quantities. And this means that we have to get them from external sources, and the micro prefix indicates that the body needs them in really minimal amounts – usually no more than 100 mg per day.
Experts are still debating whether choline, which may be found in eggs, beef liver, wheat germ, and cruciferous vegetables, is the 14th vitamin in a row (if so, then it is usually classified in the B vitamin family).
Here is what Gerald Combs, author of the textbook Vitamins, has to say about this:
“Obviously, animals that are capable of producing choline can benefit from choline supplementation.” If it comes down to it, some people, particularly those who eat little protein, and thus methionine – the principal source of mobile methyl groups required for the creation of choline – are at a disadvantage. Also, I believe that choline supplementation will be beneficial for people who are not getting the necessary nutrients due to an unbalanced diet associated with illness, loss of appetite, old age, poverty, and so on.
These categories are typically ignored when calculating suggested intakes, which are based on the average person (which is why the intake for choline is not given). Choline, on the other hand, is the sole nutrient whose lack significantly raises the risk of cancer. As a result, it would be really short-sighted of us to dismiss it, in my opinion.