Vitamins

Vitamins

Vitamins are organic compounds required by organisms as vital nutrients in limited amounts. Vitamins are therefore essential to a balanced diet. Vitamins have a variety of functions in the body. Some vitamins are coenzymes, which means that they help enzymes to catalyse a reaction efficiently. Some are responsible for regulating metabolism or act as regulators of cell and tissue growth and differentiation.

Vitamin

Role

Food sources

Deficiency disease

Vitamin ANeeded for proper functioning of eyesliver, carrots, eggnight blindness
Vitamin B (A group of vitamins with related functions)Carbohydrate, protein, lipid, nucleic acid and alcohol metabolism; neurotransmitter synthesis and nerve function; red blood cell productiongrains, potatoes, bananasB1- beriberi, B3- pellagra, B6, B9, B12- anaemia
Vitamin CCombines with key enzymes in metabolic reactionscitrus fruit (oranges, lemons etc)scurvy (results in bleeding gums)
Vitamin DMetabolites important in absorption of minerals from the gut (such as calcium and phosphate)sunshinerickets (resulting in soft bones, with bowed legs and widened wrists)
Vitamin EActs as an anti-oxidantmargarine, soybean oil, fortified cereals, condensed cow’s milk, cheese, orange juicedepressed immune system, anaemia, poor nerve conduction

Image credit: Siyavula

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