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Vitamins are components of food, even though they do not provide energy but they are essential to maintain good health. Vitamins are classified according to how they are absorbed and stored in body. Vitamins A, D, E and K are soluble only in fats, whereas vitamin C and B vitamins are soluble in water. The fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the body in liver and fatty tissue. Water soluble vitamins are not stored they are excreted in the urine, so they needed to be consumed as per the Recommended Dietary Allowance more often. Provitamins can be converted in the body into vitamins like carotene can be converted to vitamin A.

Fat soluble vitamins need fats to be absorbed into the blood stream. People who have fat malabsorption disorders can develop deficiency symptoms even if the diet has adequate amount of vitamins. On the other hand toxic amounts may build up if a person takes high dose supplements.
As water soluble vitamins are more easily absorbed, at the same time deficiencies may develop more quickly because the body stores it only in very small amounts.

The following table gives you all the information you need to know about vitamins, why they are required and what can their deficiencies cause.
Vitamin A (retinol, carotene)
Vitamin A
Liver, kidney, milk fat, fortified margarine, egg yolk, yellow and dark green leafy vegetables, apricots, cantaloupe, peaches. Stable in presence of light heat and usual cooking methods. Destroyed by oxidation, drying, very high temperature, and ultraviolet light.
  • Essential for normal growth, development and maintenance of epithelial tissues.
  • Essential for night vision.
  • Helps promote normal bone development and normal tooth formation.
  • It is an antioxidant.
  • Toxic in large quantities.
  • Night blindness
  • Bitot spots
  • Abnormalities in conjunctiva and cornea
  • Dry Skin
  • Stunted growth in children
  • Increased susceptibility to infection
Vitamin D (calciferol)
Vitamin D
Vitamin D-fortified milk, irradiated foods, some in milk fat, liver, egg yolk, salmon, tuna fish, sardines, sunlight converts 7-dehydrocholesterol to cholecalciferol.   Stable in presence of heat and oxidation.
  • Is a prohormone.
  • Essential for normal growth and development important of formation and maintenance of normal bones and teeth.
  •  Influences absorption and metabolism of phosphorus and calcium.
  • Toxic in large quantities.
  • Rickets ( weak bones) especially among children
  • Osteomalacia in adults
Vitamin E (tocopherols and toctrienols)
Vitamin E
Wheat germ, vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, milk fat, egg yolk, nuts. Stable in presence of heat and acids. Destroyed by rancid fats, alkali, oxygen, lead, iron salts, and ultraviolet irradiation.
  • Is a strong antioxidant.
  • Helps prevent oxidation of unsaturated fatty acids and vitamin A in intestinal tract and body tissues.
  • Protects red blood cells from hemolysis.
  • Role in reproduction (in animals).
  • Role in epithelial tissue maintenance
  • Required for prostaglandin synthesis that protects against heart disease
  • Retards aging and required for good skin
  • Unknown in humans


Vitamin K
Vitamin E
Liver, soyabean oil, other vegetable oils, green leafy vegetables, wheat bran, synthesized by intestinal tract bacteria. Resistant to heat, oxygen and moisture. Destroyed by alkali and ultraviolet light.
  • Aids in production of prothrombin
  • Required for normal clotting of blood.
  • Involved in bone metabolism
  •  Toxic in large amounts.
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Easy bruising
Vitamin B1 Thiamin
Vitamin B
Pork liver, organ meats, legumes, whole-grain and enriched cereals and breads, wheat germ, potatoes. Unstable in presence of heat, alkali, oxygen. Heat stable in acid solution.
  • Required for utilization of energy production
  •  Essential for growth, normal appetite, digestion, and healthy nerves.
  • Depression, Mood swings
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle cramps and wasting

Deficiency affects the following systems

  • Cardiovascular
  • Muscular
  • Nervous
  • Gastrointestinal
  • Beri Beri
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin
Vitamin B2
Milk and dairy foods, organ meats, green leafy vegetables, enriched cereals and breads, eggs. Stable in presence of heat, oxygen, and acid. Unstable in presence of light (especially ultraviolet) or alkali.
  • Essential for growth
  • Plays enzymatic role in tissue respiration
  • acts as a transporter of hydrogen ions.
  • Coenxyme forms FMN and FAD.
  • Cuts and sores in mouth and tongue
  • Swallowing problems
  • Oedema in throat
  • Ariboflavanosis
Niacin (nicotinic acid and nictinamide)
Fish, liver, meat, poultry, many grains, eggs, peanuts, milk, legumes, enriched grains. Stable in presence of heat light oxidation acid and alkali
  • As part of enzyme system aids in transfer of hydrogen
  • Acts in metabolism of carbohydrates and amino acids involved in glycoysis, fat synthesis and tissue respiration
  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Dementia
  • Dermatitis
  • Pellergra
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic acid
Vitamin B5
All plant and animal foods, eggs, kidney, liver, salmon and yeast are best sources. Possibly synthesized by intestinal bacteria. Unstale in presence of acid  alkali heat vitamin band cetain salts.
  • As part of coenzyme A
  • Function in the synthesis and breakdown of many vital body compounds essential in the metabolism of carbohydrates, fats and proteins.
  • Unknown in humans
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine
Vitamin B6
Pork, glandular meats, cereal bran and germ, milk, egg yolk, oatmeal, legumes. Stable in presence of heat light and oxidation
  • Aids in the synthesis and break down of amino acids and of unsaturated fatty acids from essential fatty acids.
  • Essential for conversion of tryptophan to niacin. Essential for normal growth.
  • Irritability, Depression and confusion
  • Scaling skin
  • Cuts and blister in mouth and red tongue
  • Weight loss
  • Convulsion in infants
Green leafy vegetables, organ meats (liver), lean beef, wheat eggs, fish dry beans, lentils, cowpeas, asparagus, broccoli, collards, yeast. Stable in presence of sunlight when in solution. Unstable in presence of heat in acid media
  • Essential for biosynthesis of nucleic acids-especially important in early fetal development essential for normal maturation red blood cells.
  • Function as a coenzyme-
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Intestinal upsets
  • Birth defects and Abortions
Vitamin B12 (Cynocobalamin)
Vitamin B12
Liver, kidney, milk and dairy foods, meat, eggs. Vegans require supplement. Slowly destroyed by acid alkali light and oxidation.
  • Involved in the metabolism of single- carbon fragments.
  •  Essentials for biosynthesis of nucleic acids and nucleoproteins.
  • Role in metabolism of nervous tissue.
  • Involved with folate metabolism related of growth.
  • Megaloblastic Anemia
  • Nerve problems
  • Smooth or sore tongue
Liver, mushrooms, peanuts, yeast, milk, meat, egg yolk, most vegetables, banana, grapefruit, tomato, watermelon, strawberries. Synthesized by intestinal bacteria. Stable under most conditions
  • Essential component of enzymes.
  • Involved in synthesis and breakdown of fatty acids and amino acids through the addition and removal of NH2 from amino acids.
  • Scaly skin, Hair loss
  • Changes in mental status
  • Anorexia
  • Nausea
  • Hyperesthesia
Vitamin C
Vitamin C
Citrus fruit, tomato, melon, peppers, green raw cabbage, guava, strawberries pineapple potato, kiwi. Unstable in presence of heat alkali and oxidation except in acids. Destroyed by storage.
  • Maintains intracellular cement substance with preservation of capillary integrity.
  •  Co substrated in hydroxylation requiring molecular oxygen, important in immune responses wound healing and allergic reaction.
  • Increases absorption of non-heme iron.
  • Scurvy
  • Hemorrhage
  • Hematuria
  • Anemia
  • Purpura
  • Poor healing, dry skin
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