Vitamin is an umbrella term for a number of unrelated
necessary in trace amounts for normal metabolic functioning of the body. Vitamins are involved
in many biochemical reactions inside of us. When sufficient amounts of a particular vitamin are lacking in a persons diet,
the processes that require them will either proceed incorrectly, or not at all. When this balance is
upset, disease develops.
Vitamins are found in many types of food. Different foods also contain a wide variation
in the percentages of each vitamin present. Some foods may contain insufficient amounts (if any) of one
vitamin, while containing an abundance of another particular vitamin. This is the premise of a proper diet (combining
different foods to ensure the necessary amounts of each nutrient. Vitamins are also produced by our bacterial
flora residing in the gut. Bacteria occupying our gut aid digestion by breaking down undigested food. They
also form a protective barrier, attempting to prevent more virulent bacteria, and other microbes from establishing residency
in our bodies. Through metabolism during food breakdown, different species of bacteria may produce small amounts
of vitamin K, niacin, riboflavin, vitamin B12, and folic acid. However, the amounts of these vitamins
produced by bacterial flora in the gut are usually insufficient and exogenous supply is required through food and
A minimum amount of each vitamin is needed in order for the
biochemical systems of the body to function both correctly and efficiently. To simplify dose of each vitamin,
we have come up with the term, recommended daily allowance (RDA). The recommended daily
allowance of a vitamin, is an amount of a particular vitamin needed on a daily basis to function normally. We must
not forget that each RDA for a particular vitamin is based on averages in the population. These are not always
correct for each individual, but can be tailored accordingly. The RDA is only a guideline, and with good intentions.
The RDA keeps things simple, assuming that we are not all well-versed in the sciences behind more accurate
calculation of need. But as we learn, we shall see that RDA can vary considerably depending on body weight, sex (male, female),
metabolism, lifestyle, genetics, and disease states. Strong variations in these variables can cause deficiencies
leading to disease as will cover.
Each vitamin has a particular function in the body. Some vitamins perform functions
such as helping us to obtain energy from the sugars we consume. Other vitamins help to properly build
connective tissues. Some vitamins act as cofactors, binding to enzymes and hormones, enabling them to work
more efficiently (a catalyst, in a sense). Other vitamins work as intermediaries in reactions during metabolism.
We shall discuss each vitamin in detail as we move along. The important thing to keep in mind as we continue is
that each vitamin is essential to a particular reaction or set
of reactions in the body. As you will discover, every vitamin has a "vital" role in our health.
Because of the "vital" role these substances play in our health, the word "vitamin" was coined.