A vitamin is defined as an organic compound that living organisms need in small amounts. Vitamins are essential for vibrant health, along with minerals and the main cellular building blocks of carbohydrates, proteins, and fats. We only need tiny amounts (usually under 100 milligrams or less, though there are a few exceptions) and as long as you eat a varied diet it should be no problem to get all you need daily.
Vitamins are usually classified by whether they are fat-soluble or water-soluble. Fat soluble vitamins dissolve in lipids, like olive oil or butter. These vitamins are best absorbed when paired with something containing a small amount of fat, however they can also be stored in fat cells and build up to potentially toxic levels. These vitamins include A, E, D, and K.
Water soluble vitamins are of course able to be dissolved in water. This makes eliminating excess from the body quite easy. However it also means we cannot store them as we can the fat-soluble kinds, so we need a daily supply. It is difficult to reach toxic dosages of these vitamins, though it can be done. These include the B vitamins, folic acid, and vitamin C.
How much of each vitamin you need depends on a variety of factors such as gender, age, activity level, pregnancy, and more. There are RDAs (Recomended Daily Allowance) which is the average recommended amount, however you should consult your physician before beginning any new diet or supplement routine.
This post will cover all the vitamins which are not part of the “B complex”, the eight B vitamins you often hear of are B1, B2, B5, B6, B9, and B12. We will cover that in a later post: The B Vitamins.
Here we will discuss Vitamin A, C, D, E, and K. When vitamins were first discovered, Vitamin A was isolated first from butter and was named “factor A”. The next similar substance, isolated from rice, was named “factor B”. Discoveries followed in alphabetical order until “factor K”, which was named for “koagulation”, the German word for coagulation, because it helped blood to clot.