Why do we need to eat vitamins? In one sentence: Our bodies can t produce all of the nutrients that we need to function properly, so we have to eat them. To understand why we need vitamins, it s best to first understand what vitamins are. P Vitamins are compounds which are necessary for our normal growth and function, which we cannot make within our bodies, and so we must obtain them from our foods. Most of the compounds needed for our body cells to function for our health, can be made by our cells from other nutrients. P For some reason, we evolved without the ability to make the small number that we call vitamins. P They were present in ample amounts in ordinary foods throughout evolution, so we did not need to make them. P We only need tiny amounts of vitamins, and they are still present in ample amounts in many foods, but it is possible to become deficient in vitamins, and that damages health.
Did you know? P Other species do not all need the same vitamins. P For example: birds and guinea-pigs, can make their own Vitamin C. Contrary to common understanding, there is actually no value in consuming extra vitamins, above what is necessary, in supplements which is a huge industry. P It has been shown that these supplements can actually damage your health! P Vitamin supplements are however recommended in certain specific situations defined by scientific research.
Vitamins are compounds that are essential for staying healthy, and that cannot be made in the body so must come from food or other sources (some vitamin D is made in skin exposed to sunlight, and some of the friendly bacteria in the gut can make vitamin K). Different vitamins have different roles in the body, but all the vitamins are vital for healthy growth and development before birth and throughout life.
Though people have known since the time of the Egyptians that certain foods cure certain diseases, the first vitamin, vitamin A, was discovered in the early 20th century. Vitamin A was discovered in 1913. Vitamin A is important for eyesight and for skin health, and is also used in bones, the immune system and is an antioxidant. The B vitamins were discovered between 1910 and 1941. This is a group of eight vitamins, which are important in metabolism (the bodyвs use of energy). They also help with keeping skin and muscles healthy, as well as supporting nerves, the immune system (which protects against infection), and production of red blood cells. Vitamin C was discovered in 1920. Vitamin C is important for healthy skin and mucous membranes (the membranes lining the mouth, nose etc) and in wound healing.
It is also an antioxidant, which protects cells from damage. Vitamin D was discovered in 1920. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for healthy teeth and bones, and protects against osteoporosis. Vitamin D also helps keep the immune system healthy. Vitamin E was discovered in 1922. Vitamin E is an anti-oxidant, preventing tissue damage. Vitamin K was discovered in 1929. Vitamin K helps with blood clotting, as well as keeping bones healthy. A balanced and healthy diet, including a range of different fruit and vegetables, lean meat, oily fish and dairy products, will provide all the vitamins required, without needing extra supplements. People eating a restricted diet, whether for health, religious or ethical reasons, may need extra vitamins as supplements, as well as people who do not get access to enough daylight to make their own vitamin D. When choosing supplements, avoid those that include megadoses в doses of vitamins above the recommended daily amount в as these can be harmful or lead to side effects such as sickness and diarrhoea.
The lack of vitamins in the diet can lead to deficiency diseases. These are most common in countries that suffer from famine and malnutrition, but can happen in the developed world in people who eat restricted diets or who do not get enough sunlight on their skin How Often Do We Need Vitamins? Some vitamins are fat-soluble (vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K) and can be stored in the body, in the liver and body fat, for up to six months. These do not need to be eaten every day but should still be eaten regularly. Other vitamins are water-soluble (the B vitamins and vitamin C) and are not stored in the body, so need to be eaten every day.