Biology - Vitamins


  • Vitamin is one of the most essential organic compounds that organisms require for the growth and maintenance of the body.

  • Unlike other nutrients, vitamins are classified by their biological and chemical activity, instead of their structure.

  • The term vitamin was derived from a compound word namely "vitamin."

  • The Polish biochemist Kazimierz Funk, first used the compound word ‘vitamin’ in 1912.

  • Usually, vitamins are represented by the English capital letters, e.g. A, B, C, E, etc.

  • The body of a human being stores different vitamins widely; the vitamins A, D, and B12 are stored in substantial amounts, generally in the liver.

  • Deficiency of vitamins causes disease.

  • Based on solubility, vitamins are classified as water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins.

  • Water-soluble vitamins can dissolve easily in water.

  • On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins can be dissolved easily in fat.

  • Further, fat-soluble vitamins get absorbed easily through the intestinal tract.

List of Vitamins

  • By the time, thirteen vitamins are comprehensively recognized.

  • The following table illustrates the list of vitamins with their properties −

Vitamins Chemical Name Solubility Deficiency disease
Vitamin A Retinol Fat Night blindness, keratomalacia, etc.
Vitamin B1 Thiamine Water Beriberi
Vitamin B2 Riboflavin Water Ariboflavinosis, glossitis, etc.
Vitamin B3 Niacin Water Pellagra
Vitamin B5 Pantothenic acid Water Paresthesia
Vitamin B6 Pyridoxine Water Anemia
Vitamin B7 Biotin Water Dermatitis
Vitamin B9 Folic acid Water Megaloblastic anemia
Vitamin B12 Cyanocobalamin Water Pernicious anemia
Vitamin C Ascorbic acid Water Scurvy
Vitamin D Cholecalciferol Fat Rickets
Vitamin E Tocopherols Fat Hemolytic anemia (in children)
Vitamin K Phylloquinone Fat Bleeding diathesis

Functions of Vitamins

  • Vitamins have different biochemical functions, significant of them are −

    • Like hormone, vitamin D regulates and helps in mineral metabolism

    • Vitamin D also regulates and helps cells and tissue growth

    • Vitamin C and vitamin E act as antioxidants

    • Vitamin B complex acts as co-enzymes or the precursors of enzymes and helps them as catalysts in metabolic activities.