Vitamins – Essential Elements for a Healthy Life

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The human body requires a complex cocktail of essential nutrients to function normally.

Amongst these, vitamins are important as they help nourish the cells and are in charge of certain enzyme reactions that are important to sustain life. There are a number of different vitamins that the body needs, and each of these serve a different function.

But before we look at what vitamins can do for you, have you ever wondered why vitamins are called A, B, C, D etc.?

Let’s take a look.

Vitamin Names – Why Are They Called So?

Many years ago, scientists started looking for reasons as to why animals did not grow to be healthy adults. They found out that these animals were low in certain essential nutrients, though they were unable to figure out what exactly they were.

As research progressed, new claims and discoveries were made. In 1905, Cornelius Adrianus Pekelharing recognised that milk contained within it certain essential elements in very small quantities that helped maintain good health and normal growth.

In 1912, Casimir Funk, a scientist who was studying rice, discovered a factor that he described to be similar to a protein building block called amino acid. He called these ‘amines’, and since they were vital to human life, they were called ‘vitalamines’.

Eventually, these two words were joined together to form ‘vitamines’. The ‘e’ was ultimately dropped as the subsequently discovered vitamins were not amines.

Hence the name ‘vitamin’ was born.

Between 1910 and 1920, vitamins that were discovered in chronological order were called A, B, C, D etc.

Vitamins with the same property as vitamin B were called vitamin B1, B2 etc. (together they are called B complex).

Vitamin E was then discovered, as was F, G and H, though the latter three were discarded and are now renamed (vitamin F is omega 3 fatty acid, vitamin G is B2 and vitamin H is biotin).

Vitamin K is called so as it is responsible for blood clotting.

Blood clotting is called Koagulation in German, hence the name vitamin K.

Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble, while the B and C vitamins are water soluble.

Role And Sources of Different Vitamins

Instead of discussing all the vitamins in great detail, the table below gives you all the information that you need.

Vitamins are essential to keep you healthy. Make sure you get them in the right proportions everyday. If you are recovering from an illness, you could take a multivitamin-enriched protein supplement to help you recover.

Dr Vivek Baliga B
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