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Vitamins are low molecular organic compounds that are essential for normal functioning of the human body. Vitamins are biocatalysts of chemical reactions in the body that occur during the construction and upgrading of living tissues, and the regulation of metabolism. Vitamins are neither building material nor energy source. However, in spite of this, the normal functioning of the organism and even the very existence of a person without these substances are not possible. The word vitamins consists of two words - the Latin word “vita” (life) and the word “Amen” - a chemical compound NH2. Not all vitamins studied at present contain an amino group, but all of the vitamins are necessary for normal functioning of the human body.

Currently there are more than 30 kinds of vitamins, each of which has the chemical name, and many of them - the letter of the alphabet (A - retinol, C - ascorbic acid, E – tocopherol). Sometimes one group of vitamins has several varieties. In such a case they are given a numbered index. For example, vitamin B: B1 - thiamine, B2 - riboflavin, B5 - pantothenic acid, B6 - pyridoxine, B12 - cyanocobalamin. Most vitamins cannot be synthesized and stored in the body. A person should supply them with food. Thus, each vitamin is necessary in a certain amount, a significant excess or deficiency of which can lead to malfunction of systems and organs of varying severity. Fresh food contains the right quantity of vitamins and in a form that is easily digested. Vitamins have an influence on metabolism and strong, stable immunity. Indication for the use of vitamins can be a vitamin deficiency, which develops due to the lack of certain vitamins in the body. Most often, this situation provokes malnutrition and different diseases of gastro-intestinal tract. Vitamins are also used in the complex treatment of liver, heart, kidneys, and the nervous system. Sources of vitamins are products of animal and vegetable origin.

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Vitamins differ in their chemical and biological properties. Some of them are soluble in water, others are lipid. They are united by small molecular size and vital regulatory role. Vitamins are involved in the normalization of metabolism and in the formation of enzymes, hormones that stimulate the growth, development and recuperation of the body. The proofs of enormous significance of vitamins for normal metabolic processes were obtained by the Russian scientist Lunin at the end of XIX century. He fed one group of experimental animals by natural and the other by artificial food. Synthetic food contained all the essential nutrients, except vitamins and experimental animals in this group had a lot of metabolic disorders.

The classification of vitamins is based on the principle of their solubility in water and fat. Therefore the vitamins are divided into two groups - water-soluble vitamins (Ń, Š and vitamins of the group B) and fat-soluble vitamins (Ą, D, E and Ź). The body accumulates fat-soluble vitamins in the adipose tissue and liver. Water-soluble vitamins are easily excreted from the body. Thereby, the lack of water-soluble vitamins often occurs. Conversely, as the fat-soluble vitamins accumulate in the body, hypervitaminosis most often happens because of this group of vitamins. In addition, there are also vitamin-like substances that can be produced in the human body or are similar to functions of vitamins. These substances are grouped in a vitamin-like. They include choline, vitamin B15, inositol, ubiquinone, para-aminobenzoic acid, carnitine, and linoleic acid.

Water-soluble vitamins are vitamins that are dependent on the circulation of energy in five systems of the body. This type of vitamins depends on the pH of the body, the pH of the fluid intake and the structure of the minerals in water. Water-soluble vitamins must be constantly updated and displayed. The consumption of food, which contains water-soluble vitamins, has a great influence on health. These nutrients help maintain a healthy nervous system, promote good vision, and preserve the skin. They are important for proper digestion. This complex of vitamins provides healthy skin, hair and nails and protects them from any damage. Similarly, vitamin C provides some key advantages. As an antioxidant, it protects the body from free radicals, which help prevent different diseases such as cancer. Fresh fruit and vegetables are an important source of water-soluble vitamins and minerals. Citrus fruit like oranges have a great amount of vitamin C. Green leafy vegetables like spinach, as well as seafood (fish) contain large amounts of vitamin B. A person should include all the products that contain water-soluble vitamins into his/her daily diet.

Fat-soluble vitamins are a part of the structure of membrane systems. The lack of fat-soluble vitamins affects the structure and chemical composition of the membranes. There are also significant changes of membrane structures with an excess of fat-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins do not have the coenzyme properties, except for vitamin K, which exhibits some of the coenzyme functions. It is possible that the fat-soluble vitamins are related to the regulation of activity of intracellular enzyme and thus participate in the function of certain enzyme systems. Everyone should be careful to include food rich in fat-soluble vitamins in the daily diet, given the importance that they give to the various functions in the body. The supply of children with enough amounts of these vitamins will ensure that they will not face health problems when they are older. There are many fat-soluble vitamins in vegetables (carrots, parsley, dill, celery, spinach, sea buckthorn and red horseradish), liver, cheese, egg yolk, cream, fish oil, and butter.

Avitaminosis is the lack of any vitamin or several vitamins (polyavitaminosis). Avitaminosis also can be a result of peculiarities of metabolism in childhood and the old age. It is the cause of such diseases like rickets (the lack of vitamin D) and scurvy (the lack of vitamin C). However, a complete lack of vitamins occurs very rarely. More often hypovitaminosis is observed. Hypovitaminosis is the lack of vitamins. The result of hypovitaminosis is the reduction of efficiency, deteriorating appetite and weakens of the immune system. A person perceives irritability and constant fatigue. If a person does not increase the intake of vitamins, then the body cannot properly digest and extract nutrients from food. As a result the state of tissues (skin, muscle and mucous membranes) and functions of the body (growth, intellectual and physical development) begin to deteriorate. In some cases hypovitaminosis is not shown and can last for years causing injury. For example, the lack of vitamin A causes twilight vision. The lack of vitamin B1 causes the oxidation of carbohydrates. A person has a loss of appetite, memory loss and headaches. Hypovitaminosis of vitamin B2 disturbs energy and metabolism processes. The lack of vitamin C appears by peeling of the skin, gingival hemorrhage, weakness and irritability, pain in legs. The lack of vitamin E promotes muscular dystrophy. People, who consume alcohol and tobacco, women during pregnancy and breastfeeding, children, vegetarians and fans of strict diets, people whose lives are linked to increased mental and physical exertion take the risk of the  development of hypovitaminosis Hypervitaminosis is an excess of vitamins. There is intoxication of ultrahigh doses of vitamins with an excess of one or more vitamins. It tends to cause disturbances in the body. With an excess of vitamin A, the liver is disrupted, the pressure increases. There is a lack of energy, sleepiness, and headaches. An overdose of vitamin C can cause sleeplessness and a violation of the pancreas and kidney. Vitamins D can promote the formation of kidney stones and the destruction of the bone stock. Poor appetite, weight loss, fatigue, nausea, abdominal pain and constipation, pain in the neck and headaches are often symptoms of the excess of vitamin D. The excess of vitamin E can cause fatigue, weakness and dizziness. It may occur in disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and the instability of the cardiovascular system.

Vitamins are needed by the body for a normal life. They are an integral part of food. They are not energy suppliers. However, vitamins play an important role in metabolism.

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