What are vitamins?

in Medication Info on .

When you go to any modern drugstore or visit the web site of an international online pharmacy you will be amazed — almost half of all products presented on the shelves are vitamins: colorful boxes with fun letters and spectacular descriptions, bottles with rainbow labels or just white or colorless jars and vials. Different in form, delivered from neighboring cities or overcame thousands of kilometers by land and sea, some are cheap and others are completely inaccessible at a price — all these are vitamins.

Why there is such a variety? Why do we need vitamins? And which of the vitamins to prefer, which one is the best vitamin of them all? People often get confused because they don’t know answers to these questions.

Of course, today there is no such person who would not have heard about health benefits of vitamins. But for some reason, it is commonly believed that they should only be taken by kids and pregnant women. Many people sometimes neglect the advice of the physician to take vitamins. Some even don’t take the vitamins seriously because they are unlikely to help cure any illness.

Let's try to understand this abundance of the vitamins.

To date, more than 30 vitamins and similar compounds are known. Some are formed in the organism itself, while others must act from the outside. But each of them is good in its own way.

Vitamins have exceptionally high biological activity and are needed in an organism in rather small quantities — from several micrograms to several tens of milligrams per day. Unlike other nutrients, vitamins are not a source of energy or "bricks" for building cells and tissues; they participate in metabolism mainly as biocatalysts. Therefore, in the absence of vitamins there is a real threat to the human life. This threatening condition develops in the following situations:

"Wrong" nutrition, when people do not eat fresh vegetables and fruits daily

Abuse of "refined" food products (refined sugar, refined rice, pastry made from high-quality flour, refined vegetable oils)

Canned or long-term stored products

Vegetarianism

Intense baby growth, pregnancy, breast feeding, exhausting exercise, high physical or mental load, occupational hazards, difficult climatic conditions and other conditions when the organism needs more vitamins than usual

Diseases of the stomach, pancreas, liver, intestines, when the intake (absorption) of vitamins from food is violated

Parasites

Poisoning, purulent diseases, burns, ailments of the thyroid gland, period after surgeries

Use of certain drugs that reduce the formation of certain vitamins in the human organism (for example, antibiotics)

But one shouldn’t use too many vitamins either. Rarely, but still, there are cases of vitamin overdose, which can also lead to the development of various unpleasant conditions.

In the family of vitamins there are two "clans": water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. Such a division exists not only because some of them dissolve in water and others don’t, but also because water-soluble cannot accumulate in the organism as a reserve, and fat-soluble (dissolved in the body's fats) can.

With a normal diet and a healthy lifestyle, the need for vitamins is met naturally. However, even under these conditions it is advisable to use certain groups of vitamins in the winter and spring. 

For the preservation of vitamins in food, you must adhere to the rules of harvesting, storage of food and cooking. For example, in damaged vegetables and fruits, vitamins are destroyed by the action of enzymes that break down these molecules.

The daily human need for vitamins depends to a large extent on the age, a person’s occupation, body weight, sex, general health status, etc.

Nowadays, to get the daily norm of all the necessary vitamins and elements, you need to eat apples, oranges, lemons, pears, and more, in huge amounts, several kilograms daily. And don’t forget about vegetables and even herbs — they also contain a lot of vitamins. Plus a couple of pounds of meat, but only if this meat was not stuffed with hormones and antibiotics. Do you eat so much a day? No? So you do not get enough of what your organism needs for normal life. That's why the majority of people need to take vitamin complexes that are now available in most pharmacies.

But again, do not overdo it! If it is written on the package that you need to take 1 pill per day, then you should do it. If you take two or more, then unnecessary vitamins can under certain, unfavorable conditions, they can seriously harm your health.