What are vitamins?
Vitamins are essential biomolecules which the organism needs in small daily amounts for the normal functioning and development of the organism.
Most vitamins perform their tasks as coenzymes in the essential enzymes of the human organism and while participating in enzyme catalysis.
We currently know of over twenty vitamins. Vitamins are divided into two groups: water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins include B1 (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), vitamin H (biotin), folates, vitamin B12, vitamin C (ascorbic acid), and B5 (pantothenic acid), while fat soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and Q10, and vitamin K. The resources in water soluble vitamins are maintained for days or weeks, while the resources in fat soluble vitamins survive somewhat longer. Despite these resources, it is essential that vitamins be regularly administered.
Vitamins can be obtained from food and various food supplements, and the microflora of the organism itself can also produce small amounts of certain vitamins
Vitamin deficiencies threaten anyone whose diet is one-sided, who takes various forms of medication, or who is subjected to a good deal of stress. The skilled and systematic consumption of vitamins by taking into consideration the characteristics of each individual helps to reduce the risk of a variety of diseases or serves to accelerate healing following infection with those diseases.
The following table presents the recommended daily doses (RDA) for vitamins. Since the needs of an organism largely depend on lifestyle, the vitamin needs of two different men or women are often different. Complete the test on the right to be able to understand which vitamins you get sufficiently from food and which vitamins you should additionally administer. Note that, before taking the test, you should register as a Meravita user or log into the environment.
RDA (recommended daily dose of vitamins)
|Vitamin A||0,4–0,7 mg||0,75–0,85 mg||1,1–1,3 mg||0,8–1,1 mg|
|Vitamin B1||0,7–1,2 mg||1,0–1,2 mg||1,3–1,6 mg||1,3–1,5 mg|
|Vitamin B2||0,6–0,9 mg||0,9–1,1 mg||1,4–1,6 mg||1,1–1,3 mg|
|Vitamin B3||2–12 mg||14 mg||18 mg||16 mg|
|Vitamin B4||2–8 mg||14 mg||17 mg||16 mg|
|Vitamin B5||3–7 mg||4–9 mg||6–11 mg||5–10 mg|
|Vitamin B6||0,5–1,0 mg||1,0–1,5 mg||1,9–2,0 mg||1,3–1,7 mg|
|Vitamin B7||6–12 µg||30 µg||30–35 µg||30 µg|
|Vitamin B9||0,1–0,3 mg||0,3–0,5 mg||0,5–0,6 mg||0,3–0,5 mg|
||2–3 µg||3–4 µg||4–5 µg||3–4 µg|
||25–50 mg||45–75 mg||80–120 mg||50–100 mg|
|Vitamin D||8–10 µg||5–8 µg||10–12 µg||5–8 µg|
|Vitamin E||5–7 mg||9–15 mg||10–15 mg||10–15 mg|
|Vitamin K||20–60 µg||60–80 µg||80–120 µg||60–90 µg|
Vitamin A is a fat soluble vitamin with a generic name of retinoids. Retinoids include retinol (reproductive system), retinal (vision), retinol esters (storage), retinoic acid (growth and differentiation) and 3,4-Didehydroretinol. Additionally, some carotenoids (α-Carotene, β-Carotene) are turned into retinol in the organism by enzymes. Carotenoids do not have the harmful effects of the other forms of vitamin A.READ MORE
Vitamin B1 or thiamine is a water soluble vitamin. Its biochemical synonyms are also anti neurite vitamin, aneurin and anti-beriberi factor. The most bioactive form of the vitamin is thiamine pyrophosphate or thiamine diphosphate (TPP, TDP, cocarboxylase). Less active are forms are thiamine monophosphate and thiamine triphosphate. Vitamin B is a thermolabile vitamin which is not very persistent in alkaline solutions.READ MORE
Vitamin B2 or riboflavin is a water soluble vitamin. Since this vitamin can also be found in milk, a term lactoflavin is also sometimes used. Biologically more active forms are flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD) and flavin mononucleotide (FMN) and the thyroid hormones promoting the phosphorylation of the forms of coenzymes. B2 is a thermostable vitamin which is poorly soluble in water and also decomposes in alkaline conditions.READ MORE
Vitamin 32 or niacin is a water soluble vitamin. Vitamin B3 is actually a generic term for nicotinic acid and nicotinamide, which are the compounds of coenzymes NAD and NADP.
The term vitamin PP may also be used, where PP stands for preventive pellagra. It is a strong acid which is relatively persistent to heating, light, air, acids and alkali.READ MORE
Vitamin B5 or pantothenic acid is a water soluble vitamin the bioactive form of which is D(+), which is used to synthesise coenzyme A. Vitamin B5 is a thermolabile vitaminREAD MORE
Vitamin B6 or pyridoxine is a water soluble vitamin. This vitamin includes three compounds: pyridoxine, pyridoxamine and pyridoxal. All three are converted into pyridoxalphosphate in the organism. This is a vitamin that is an extremely strong acid that decomposes under the influence of both light as well as temperature. Pyridoxine is sometimes also called the anti-dermatological vitamin.READ MORE
Biotin or vitamin H or vitamin B7 is a water soluble vitamin. It is also known as coenzyme R and Bios 2. Both biotin as well as its oxide derivative oxybiotin, where the sulphur in its molecule is replaced by oxygen, are biologically active. Biotin can actually occur as eight stereoisomers, D-biotin being biologically the most important of them. Vitamin H is also called an antiseborrheic vitamin. It is a vitamin that is stable in both the heat and the sunlight.READ MORE
The term applies for symbols B10 and B11. Sometimes the term folacin is also used. The biologically active form of folic acid is its coenzyme form tetrahydrofolate (THF), which is also called antianemic vitamin. Folic acid decomposes when exposed to heat and light.READ MORE
Vitamin B12 or hydroxocobalamin is a water soluble vitamin. Actually, cobalamins include the whole group of compounds called B12. The group in the molecule connected with divalent cobalt gives the certain cobalamin its name. Cyanocobalamin is a term that is frequently used as an equivalent of vitamin B12. In vitamin preparations, hydroxocobalamin is generally used (it dominates in the blood serum) because it is preserved in the organism for a longer period of time than cyanocobalamin (mainly due to its longer half-life)..READ MORE
Vitamin C – or ascorbic acid – is a water soluble vitamin which is also known as the antiscorbutic vitamin.READ MORE
Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin. The generic name of this group of vitamins is calciferols, the main representatives of which are vitamer D2 or ergocalciferol and vitamer D or colecalciferol. Those are the two vitamers which are biologically active. Colecalciferol is the stronger form of the two and thus mostly used in food supplements.READ MORE
Vitamin E is a fat soluble vitamin which includes a group of compounds with similar structure. The generic name for the group are tocopherols, where 8 natural compounds are divided into four tocopherols and four tocotrienols.
Considering the biological function of the different forms of tocopherols and tocotrienols is very important in clinical practice due to the differences in their bioavailability, bioactiveness and toxicity.READ MORE
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin which includes compounds with antihaemorrhagic properties with the generic name of naphthoquinones. The main representatives of this group are vitamer K1 or phyllochinon and vitamer K2 or menachinon. Both vitamers have an effect of a vitamin, whereas the bioactivity of K2 is approximately twice as weak as that of K1. In the organism, the synthetic menadione (vitamer K3) also becomes bioactive. Vitamer K2 is produced by the bacteria in the small intestine of the human organism, whereas vitamer K1 can be found in products of plant origin and fish oils. In the human organism, the main vitamer is K2.READ MORE
Micro- and macronutrients (minerals)
To ensure the normal functioning of the organism, it is essential to have all the necessary minerals and vitamins in the sufficient quantity. Minerals are essential compounds in bones, body fluids and enzymes. Minerals are divided in two classes: trace elements and macro elements. Macro elements are needed in our organism in larger quantities – their content in our organism is more than 5 grams. Macroelements include 7 elements which are the following: calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P), magnesium (Mg), sodium (Na), potassium (K), sulphur (S) and chloride (Cl). Trace elements are minerals the organism only needs in small amounts. When macroelements are quite evenly distributed between the different tissues of the body, then trace elements are distributed unevenly in the body and rather grouped in different specific organs.
The human organism cannot produce minerals by itself, they have to be obtained with food. The necessity of minerals varies at different stages of life and depends on the gender, diet, age, illnesses, living environment and several other factors. Growing children, pregnant and nursing women and elderly people need minerals the most. As said, the necessity of minerals depends on diet and long-time lack of minerals in the body may become dangerous for the organism. Conscious and systematic consumption of minerals and vitamins helps to reduce the risk of developing many illnesses or accelerate healing from them.
The ratio of minerals and vitamins is important when obtaining them. For instance, the absorption and use of iron are promoted by vitamin C and copper. Magnesium plays an important role for the absorption of calcium. The content of calcium in blood are regulated by phosphorus and vitamin D. A necessary amount of zinc promotes the absorption of B vitamins.
Several minerals, primarily macroelements, are also essential electrolytes. From the physiological point of view, the first electrolyte ions from among minerals is potassium (K+), sodium (Na+), calcium (Ca2+) and magnesium (Mg2+). The significance of electrolytes lies in their capacity to help regulating the nervous and muscular functions, maintain the balance of acids and bases and water in the organism. If the balance of electrolytes is disturbed, it may result in different disorders in the organism.
The main reason for mineral deficiency is insufficient and one-sided diet. From other daily activities, mineral deficiency can be promoted by excessive coffee consumption, continuous and excessive consumption of sugar rich dishes and beverages but also frequent physical activity and perspiration and the intensified work of the digestive system or kidneys. Minerals can be obtained from food and beverages. Mineral content of food depends on the quality of food and its level of processing. Plants gather minerals from the soil, therefore, the quantities of minerals depend on the habitat of the plants and the fertilisation. Drinking water also contains minerals and thus the origin of it is also crucial. Heat processing reduces the quantity of vitamins considerably more than that of minerals. However, refining or peeling food products removes part of the mineral substances. Despite the fact that the organism only needs small amounts of minerals, there are no substantial mineral reserves in our body and a long-term mineral deficiency results in health disorders. Similarly to vitamins, the need for minerals depends on the gender, age, body weight, physical activeness and physiological condition. Children, fertile women, elderly people and people with high physical activity have a higher need for minerals. Also, more minerals are needed under stress and in case of illnesses.
Overconsumption of minerals
To ensure the proper functioning of the mechanisms of the organism, the balance between different bioelements is essential. It is reasonable to use mineral preparations or food supplements to quickly obtain the necessary amount of lacking substance. The organism easily obtains the necessary elements from the preparations and food supplements. However, overconsumption of minerals may lead to organism function disorders. Abundance of some minerals may cause disorders in the absorption of other minerals and vitamins. The symptoms of overconsumption include allergies, skin irritation, stomach and headache and indigestion.
Table 1. The guideline daily amount of minerals for adults (terviseamet.ee)
|Mineral||The guideline daily amount of minerals for adults|
|Potassium||Women 1800-5000 mg|
|Men 1800-5000 mg|
|Chloride||Women 1700-5100 mg|
|Men 1700-5100 mg|
|Sodium||Women 1200-3500 mg|
|Men 1200-3500 mg|
|Calcium||Women 1000-13000 mg|
|Men 1000-1300 mg|
|Magnesium||Women 320-450 mg|
|Men 320-450 mg|
|Iron||Women 13-17 mg|
|Men 11-14 mg|
|Zinc||Women 11-13 mg|
|Men 14-16 mg|
|Manganese||Women 2,5-5 mg|
|Men 2,5-5 mg|
|Fluorine||Women 1,5-3,5 mg|
|Men 1,5-3,5 mg|
|Copper||Women 1,5-2,5 mg|
|Men 1,5-2,5 mg|
|Boron||Women 0,2-0,6 mg|
|Men 0,2-0,6 mg|
|Iodine||Women 0,13-0,16 mg|
|Men 0,13-0,16 mg|
|Molybdenum||Women 0,10-0,3 mg|
|Men 0,13-0,3 mg|
|Chromium||Women 0,06-0,18 mg|
|Men 0,07-0,19 mg|
|Selenium||Women 0,05-0,14 mg|
|Men 0,06-0,15 mg|
|Cobalt||Women 0,003-0,015 mg|
|Men 0,005-0,015 mg|