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What Exactly Are Vitamins?

By Charles Hopkins Published 07/6/2006 | Nutrition

Are you a health freak who always looks for newer ways of staying fit and energetic? But don't you sometimes feel that you are not getting what you actually want? Well, you are not alone in your judgment. Sometimes we all feel we are missing on something important that significantly prevents us from enjoying life in its fullest. Usually it happens due to the deficiency of specific vitamins. Now you may argue, how can we be deficient on certain vitamins in spite of taking a healthy diet? But how can you tell that you are pursuing a healthy diet? Healthy diet is one which contains all essential nutrients including vitamin in perfect proportion. Are you sure your body is getting all the necessary vitamins in perfect quantity? If not sure, read on the article below to know the important facts about vitamins.
The term vitamin was coined by a Polish scientist, Casimir Funk long back in the first half of 20th century. The term was used to refer to those organic substances required by all living beings for proper functioning of their systems and the deficiency of which may lead to the symptoms specific to those vitamins.
Vitamins are mainly of two types: water soluble and fat soluble. The vitamins C and vitamin B complex group easily get dissolved in water, while vitamins A, D, E or K are stored in our fat tissues with the help of lipid.
One interesting fact about vitamin is that human body needs them for several purposes, but can not manufacture the vitamins. This is the reason why we have to obtain from outside sources like foods.
That we need vitamins to ensure an overall well-being is not a discovery of modern science. Thousands of years ago, in many ancient civilizations men were aware of the beneficial effects of some of the foods on our body and the negative effects resulting from not consuming them for a long period of time. It is the identification of different vitamins that is the contribution of modern science. Did you know, we human beings need thirteen vitamins for out healthy survival? All these thirteen vitamins are categorized into two broad groups: nine water soluble vitamins (eight B vitamins and vitamin C) and four fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K).
Now the question is why do we need vitamins? A million dollar question indeed! Let me explain. Vitamins do not add any calorie to our system. Yet they play a significant role in promoting growth and development of our body. They are also responsible for triggering off many chemical functions of our body. Starting from digestive to reproductive systems, all run smoothly if the related organs are nourished by required levels of vitamins. Then it is the vitamins that use the calories, obtained from variety of foods to help process proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. Vitamins also have constructive functions, like creating cells and tissues and development of organs.
Leaf through the pages of magazines, keep an eye on the television channels or surf the internet, you will come across  a number of discussions everywhere that revolves round the  preventive powers of vitamins with regard to particular diseases. Do you have doubts about this prowess of vitamins? All right, let me explain, how actually vitamins work to prevent certain diseases.
It performs its preventive duty in two main ways: first of all by preventing the deficiency syndromes associated with the respective vitamin, and secondly by incorporating the health benefits provided by that specific vitamin. Take the example of vitamin A. We all know how important it is for our vision.  Vitamin A deficiency affects our vision simply because in the absence of vitamin A, the surface lining of our eyes break down and it becomes susceptible to infections.  Proper supply of vitamin A helps us to deal with this problem. In addition to that, consuming vitamin A ensures that we have healthy bones, proper cell division and differentiation and also a healthy reproductive system.
Now the word vitamin invariably conjures up the image of bottles of colorful tablets and capsules in multiple shapes and sizes. These are synthetic vitamin supplements. When you do not get adequate amount of vitamins from your natural food intake, then you can take recourse to these artificial supplements. As a whole, fresh fruits, green vegetable, fishes, whole grains, cereals and milk products are the best sources of variety of vitamins.
So we can end from where we began; health and vitality is the result of a healthy and balanced diet and balanced diet is one which fulfills your body's requirements for specific vitamins. If after everything you feel you are lacking on something, it is high time you seek the appointment of an experienced dietician who can point out  exactly what vitamins your body needs to be in its best.