Vitamins. Characteristics and classification
Vitamins are chemicals that are extremely important for the body. They were discovered less than 100 years ago. They are essential for proper metabolism and essential to human health. We measure their daily needs in milligrams. How do we divide vitamins? In which products can we find the most of them?
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1. What are vitamins?
Vitamins are a group of organic chemical compounds of various structures. They are essential for the proper functioning of the human body.
Vitamins can be of natural or synthetic origin. The human body (with a few exceptions) is not able to produce them on its own, so they must be supplied in the food. The mentioned exceptions are vitamins A and D.
Vitamin A does not exist in a ready form, only in the form of provitamin (carotene). Only in the liver cells and in the intestinal mucosa that provitamin is converted into vitamin A.
Vitamin D can be formed in the body from a derivative of cholesterol (ergosterol), it is produced in the lower parts of the epidermis. The presence of UV rays is essential for it to arise.
The first vitamin was discovered in 1913 by the Polish biochemist Kazimierz Funk. The researcher gave a name to this group of compounds, from the Latin vitae (life) and amine (vitamin B1 contained an amino group).
Lack of a given vitamin in the body is called avitaminosis, deficiency - hypovitaminosis, and excess - hypervitaminosis.
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2. How do we divide vitamins?
We divide vitamins into fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.
2.1. Fat-soluble vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K.
Vitamin A performs one of the biochemical functions, which is the co-formation of rhodopsin (a substance necessary to maintain the excitability of the sensory cells of the retina). It can be found, among others, in eggs, liver, vegetables, fish oil, butter.
Vitamin D affects the calcium metabolism (increases the absorption of this element in the intestines), it is needed for proper bone growth. We find it in eggs, butter, yeast, liver and whole milk.
The main function of another vitamin - E is to inhibit the oxidation of body lipids and vitamin A. It can be found in vegetable oils, wheat germ, eggs, liver and nuts.
Vitamin K plays a significant role in blood clotting. It is necessary for the production of prothrombin (a protein factor involved in blood clotting) in liver cells.
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2.2. Water-soluble vitamins
Among the water-soluble vitamins are B1, PP, B2, B6, B11, B12, C, Biotin and pantothenic acid.
Vitamin B1 is part of the enzymes that oxidize carbohydrates and amino acids. It occurs in raw yeast, cereal grains, meat and liver.
Vitamin PP is part of the NAD + and NADP + coenzymes, which contribute to some enzymes that carry out reduction or oxidation reactions in cells. It is found in eggs, cheese, liver, whole milk, and some vegetables.
Vitamin B2 plays a similar role to vitamin PP. It is an element of the FAD coenzyme - an enzyme that oxidizes organic compounds in cells. Larger amounts of this vitamin are found in eggs, whole milk, cheese, some vegetables, and the liver.
The vitamin B6 derivative is a coenzyme for amino acid processing enzymes. It is found in liver, meat, eggs, vegetables, legumes, bananas.
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Vitamin B12 co-creates the non-protein component of enzymes that process nitrogen bases (it has a direct impact on the synthesis of nucleic acids). It is found in the bacteria of the intestinal flora, liver and eggs.
Vitamin C - an extremely important vitamin with a broad spectrum of activity. It plays an important role in collagen synthesis, iron absorption, strengthening immunity and the formation of the basics of teeth and bones.
It precipitates quickly at high temperatures (during cooking and frying). Fresh fruit such as lemon, strawberry, black currant, orange, grapefruit or in vegetables, such as tomato.
Biotin affects the proper condition of hair, skin and nails, protects against hair loss, dermatitis and seborrhea. Large amounts of it can be found in potatoes, meat, eggs, liver and carrots.
Pantothenic acid affects the metabolism of fats and carbohydrates, it is a component of coenzyme A. It is commonly found in plant and animal foods.