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Vitamins are micro-nutrients that are required for the proper functioning of the body. In many cases, they cannot be synthesized or created by in the body and those which are, are often not synthesized in adequate quantities. In these cases, such as in the case of vitamin D, they are required to be taken in from our diet and/or our environment.
It is also known that many vitamins are not retained for long by our bodies. This is especially true for water-soluble vitamins such as vitamin C and the B vitamins (B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B12). These vitamins need to be ingested once every 48-hour cycle for the proper functioning of all our internal systems.
We need to get vitamins into our systems despite the fact that they are made essentially of the same atoms of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and cobalt as are proteins, fats and carbohydrates. This is because vitamins’ molecular structures and the arrangement of molecules of these elements are different and thus they perform very different functions when in the body from the macronutrients. Different foods contain different vitamins, so to include all of the vitamins in our diet, we need to cover a wide variety of foods.
Vitamins help our body with the following functions:
a. Growth and development of cells and tissues
b. Helps in the growth and development of bones and teeth
c. Helps in the smooth functioning of our immune system
d. Aids in keeping our skin and hair healthy
e. Required to form the protective lining of our lungs, intestines, stomach, etc.
f. Helps maintain a healthy night vision
g. Acts as anti-oxidants to other vitamins and polyunsaturated faty acids, DNA etc
h. Essential for the production of prothrombin, which is crucial for blood clotting
i. Helps absorb dietary iron
j. Helps form hormones and neurotransmitters
k. Helps as co-enzymes required in the metabolization of carbohydrates, proteins and fats
l. They help in the manufacture of DNA, RBCs and WBCs
m. They help in the production of new cells and in healing physical wounds
n. They help in the proper function of the nervous system