Last update: 1.5.2017.
What are vitamins and why we need them
A vitamin is an organic chemical compound or related set of compounds and a vital nutrient that an organism requires in limited amounts and which the organism cannot synthesize in sufficient quantities so it must be obtained through the diet. This definition of vitamin is conditional so that the list of vitamins is different for different organisms. For example vitamin C is not a vitamin for many animals.
An essential nutrient is a nutrient required for normal human body function that either cannot be synthesized by the body at least in the required amounts.
Essential nutrients are many times grouped in the following categories:
1. Fatty acids
2. Amiono acids
Please note that:
Not all fatty acids are are essential.
Not all amino acids are are essential.
Carbohydrates can be metabolized from amino acids!
Vtiamins by definition are always essential.
Minerals by definition as always essential.
Vitamins are divided into water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins are generally safer to use regards to overdosing. For example we can take vitamin C much more than we need and the surplus will leave the body with urine. Because of this many people think that vitamin C can be taken safely very large amounts for even extended periods. The truth is that excess use of vitamin C could cause e.g. diarrhea, nausea, cramps, headache or kidney stones. Fat soluble vitamins are soluble in fats. They are then stored in body tissues. Once they have been stored in the body they tend to remain there. If a persons intake of a fat soluble vitamin is too high for an extended period they will eventuallty have too much of that vitamin in their body (hypervitaminosis).
It is said that there is little evidence of nutritional benefit in supplementing vitamins when one is on a balanced healthy diet and is otherwise healthy.
However supplementation is important for the treatment of certain health problems. Also it is important for athletes and people under stresfull situations.
In our opinion everyone should find out if they can benefit from supplements.