Ask Tonic – “what are vitamins?”

I was asked recently what vitamins are and where they come from. Fair question, so here goes…hope this makes sense:
“Vitamins are organic compounds which are needed in small quantities to sustain life. We get vitamins from food, because the human body either does not produce enough of them, or none at all.”

Vitamins are organic compounds, which means they contain carbon. Sometimes a compound is vital for one animal but not another – or example vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a vitamin designed for the human body but not for dogs. This is because dogs, and other animals, can synthesise their own vitamin C. Humans cannot.

So, vitamins are tiny organic compounds found in food stuffs designed to give the body what it cannot produce itself. The human body requires very small amounts of these compounds – a mixed bowl of peppers, broccoli and tomatoes will get you over 400% of your vitamin A and C requirement.

Currently, there are 13 recognised vitamins.

There are 2 types of vitamin: Fat soluble and water soluble.

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the fat tissues of our bodies, as well as the liver. They are easier to store than water-soluble ones, and can stay in the body as reserves for days, some of them for months.

Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the help of fats (lipids).

Water-soluble vitamins do not get stored in the body for long – any excess is expelled through the urine. Water soluble vitamins need to replenished daily – more often than fat soluble ones.

Vitamins A, D, E and K are fat-soluble.

Vitamins C and all the B vitamins are water-soluble

Hope that helps!


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