Vitamins are essential for the body to function properly, and there are two main types: water-soluble and fat-soluble.
Water-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin C and B vitamins, must be dissolved in water before they can be absorbed by the body and therefore cannot be stored. Vitamin C works together with vitamin E as an antioxidant and plays a crucial role in neutralizing free radicals throughout the body. Pantothenic acid, also known as vitamin B5, is involved in energy production and helps the formation of hormones and the metabolism of fats, proteins and carbohydrates in food.
Vitamin B12 can only be found naturally in animal foods such as meat, liver, kidney, fish, eggs, milk and dairy products, oysters and seafood. The eight B vitamins that make up the “B complex” are thiamine (vitamin B1), riboflavin (vitamin B2), niacin (vitamin B3), vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), folate (folic acid), vitamin B12, biotin and pantothenic acid). Food sources of vitamin D are somewhat limited, but include milk and other fortified dairy products, cod and oily fish (herring, sardines, salmon), and mushrooms. Sources of vitamin E include vegetable oil, fruits and vegetables, cereals, nuts (almonds and hazelnuts), seeds (sunflower), and fortified cereals.
The best-known source of vitamin C is citrus fruits, but you can also get vitamin C from potatoes, strawberries, green and red peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts and kiwis. A general lack of water-soluble vitamins is rare in North America, although it can occur in alcohol use disorder, malabsorption syndromes, strict veganism, and states of malnutrition. Some people are deficient in vitamin B12 because they cannot absorb it through the lining of the stomach. Water-soluble vitamins that the body doesn't use are mainly lost through the urine.
The deficiency of any of these water-soluble vitamins causes a clinical syndrome that can cause serious morbidity and mortality. Although rare in the United States, severe vitamin C deficiency can cause the disease known as scurvy, which causes fatigue and loss of collagen strength throughout the body. But do we need to take daily supplemental vitamins? What do they do? And how do they work in our body? If you're healthy and eating a well-balanced diet, there's a good chance you won't need extra vitamins. Vitamin B complex and vitamin C are found in many foods, especially vegetables and fruits, as well as dairy products, meat, legumes, peas, liver, eggs, and fortified grains and cereals.