Vitamins are essential food factors, which are required for the proper utilisation of the proximate principles of food like carbohydrates, lipids and proteins. They also serve the needs of growth, differentiation and maintenance of normal cellular functions.
Discovery of vitamins started from observation of deficiency manifestations, e.g. scurvy, rickets, beriberi etc. The vitamin theory was suggested independently by Hopkins in 1912 and Funk in 1913. The term “vitamine’ was coined from the words vital + amine, since the earlier identified one had amino groups. Later work showed that most of them did not contain amino groups, so the last letter ‘e’ was dropped in the modern tem of vitamin
The vitamins are mainly classified into two:
  • Fat soluble Vitamins: A, D, E and K.
  • Water soluble vitamins are B complex and C
Fat Soluble vs Water Soluble Vitamins
Fat Soluble Vitamins
Water soluble vitamins
 Major vitamins
 A, D, E and K
 B and C
 Solubility in fat
 Not soluble
 Water solubility
 Not soluble
 Along with lipids. Require bile salts
 Absorption is simple
 Carrier proteins
 No carrier proteins
 Not excreted
 Stored in liver
 No appreciable storage
 Manifests only when stores are depleted
 Manifests rapidly as there is no storage
 Treatment of deficiency
 Single large doses may prevent deficiency
 Regular dietary supply is required
 Hypervitaminosis may result
 Unlikely, since excess is excreted
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