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.
- 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
- oat flakes
- brown rice
- 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 overdose of vitamin A. The symptoms lasted for weeks, as they developed a yellow skin.
5 good sources for fat-soluble vitamins
- (green) vegetables
- coconut oil
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.