Vitamins are organic substances present in small amounts in many foods. They are required for carrying out vital functions of the body and many of them are involved in the utilization of major nutrients like proteins, fats and carbohydrates. Although they are needed in small amounts, they are essential for the health and well-being of the body.
Classification of vitamins
Fat-soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) require the presence of fats for their absorption from the GI tract and for cellular metabolism and can be stored for longer periods of time in the body’s fatty tissue and the liver.
Water-soluble vitamins (vitamin C and B-complex vitamins) require daily ingestion in normal quantities because these vitamins are not stored in the body.
Certain vitamins, mineral, and enzymes are classified as antioxidants, a substance that blocks or inhibits destructive oxidation reactions, such as vitamins C and E, the minerals selenium and germanium, and the enzymes catalase and superoxide dismutase, coenzyme Q10, and some amino acids. Antioxidants help to protect the body from the formation of free radicals, atoms or groups of atoms that can cause damage to cells. Free radicals can impair the immune system and lead to infections and certain degenerative diseases such as heart disease and cancer.