Vitamins

What are Vitamins? – What you need to know!

The last time we learned about from where the word vitamin originated. Additionally we talked a bit about the experiments, which led to the conclusion that there are substances, which are crucial for our survival and that they are called vitamins, molecules for life.

So we now know where the word vitamin comes from, that vitamins are compulsory and how that was proved. And so you may ask. And what are vitamins now?

Today I´m going to lift the veil and describe a bit more the structure and characteristics together with the most common classification of vitamins. And at last I´ll give you some examples of good sources for vitamins.

The Structure and Characteristics

Vitamins are organic compounds which are built in nature. We as humans have to get our amount of vitamins through food. There is one exception. Vitamin D can be produced by exposing our skin to the sunlight. Plants compared to humans can form all their essential nutrients by themselves. It is amazing, because so they can totally live autarkic.

The chemical structure of vitamins is not just a nitrogenous compound (amine) as the discoverer and name giver Casimir Funk thought. There are also vitamins which are carboxyl acids or alkanols. I think it is enough with chemistry. Let´s get back to life.

The most common Classification

The classification of solubility

The most common classification of vitamins is the division of them into the two classes of solubility. The water-soluble vitamins and the fat-soluble vitamins.

The water-soluble vitamins

The water-soluble vitamins are highly water-soluble. Therefore, they cannot be storaged in the body and spend only a short period of time in our body. So we need a constant and frequent supply of them. And it is unlikely to get an overdose. They are doing their work in the watery environment of our cells. Broccoli

  • 9 out of 13 essential vitamins belong to this group including the vitamin-b-complex and vitamin C. Vitamin B12 is here another exception, as it can be storaged in our body.

5 good sources for water-soluble vitamins

  1. broccoli
  2. oat flakes
  3. brown rice
  4. bananas
  5. brewer’s yeast [Saccharomyces cerevisiae]

The fat-soluble vitamins

The fat-soluble vitamins are highly fat-soluble. They can be storaged in the fat-tissues and work in the cell walls, the liver and the muscles. Therefore, we don´t necessarily need a constant and frequent supply of them. With this knowledge we have to be more cautious, not to get an overdose.

  • 4 out of 13 essential vitamins belong to this group including the vitamins A, E, D, K.


Some days ago I read an article where scientists ate parts of the liver of a polar bear. They immediately got sick of an Butteroverdose of vitamin A. The symptoms lasted for weeks, as they developed a yellow skin.

5 good sources for fat-soluble vitamins

  1. (green) vegetables
  2. nuts
  3. coconut oil
  4. fish
  5. butter

Today we learned a bit about the chemistry of vitamins. That there are vitamins which are nitrogenous compounds, carboxyl acids or alkanols. And we now know the most common classification of vitamins as water-soluble and fat-soluble.

The next time we will talk about other functional groups of vitamins.

Did you know about the classification of vitamins considering solubility and the possible consequences yet? Let me know in the comments.

Tobias

4 Comments

Juhnairik

This is awesome, taking me back to science class. It appears you have a clear passion for this stuff. I’m curious, what products do you recommend? I take a number of products depending on my activity and the time of year, but I am always on the look out for new company’s offering something unique.

Reply
Tobias

Yeah health truly is my passion and vitamins are one of the main pillars of nutrition which is a base of a good health. As I´m in the process of building up my website I´ll give recommendations about products for all essential vitamins and minerals soon. Would you like me to do a review on a specific product? Let me know and I´ll be happy to help you.

Reply
Paul

Hi Tobias,
If I may share a thought about vitamin D; it’s of course true that we were designed to photosynthesis it, but I think people in general are highly deficient in it.
The reason is that people just don’t get enough sun. Even when people are out in the sunlight, many times too much of our skin is covered up, minimizing our ability to produce what we need.
To make matters worse, it’s my understanding that soap can strip vitamin D from our skin.
I’m of course not suggesting that people don’t use soap. It’s just an unfortunate possibility that there are drawbacks to its use, which may need to be compensated for.
Having said that, I think that a good vitamin D3 supplement may be a good idea for a lot of people. Would you agree?

Reply
Tobias

Hi Paul,

totally agree with you. I´ve made the same experiences concerning vitamin D. And I think many of us need a good vitamin D3 supplement combined with vitamin K2. Especially in winter in the temperate regions, it is mostly impossible to get enough vitamin D through the sunlight, as it is too rare and has a too low intensity. In summer you need to take a sunbath of about 20-30 minutes per day in “bathing wear” to get the right amount of sunlight for vitamin D photosynthesis. That soap can strip vitamin D from your skin is new to me. I´ll do a research on it and will capture it in one of the following blog posts where I talk about vitamin D in detail.

Thank your for your interest Paul and keep looking around in the future.

Reply

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