Types of vitamins and their functions in the body

Vitamins are substances that the human body cannot make, but that it needs to carry out important biological functions. Types of vitamins and their functions

For this reason, vitamins , as well as minerals , must be incorporated into the body through the diet; hence the importance of choosing appropriate foods, rich in these components, especially to give to children in the first years of life, when their soft tissues and bones are still being formed. In the case of athletes, there is usually a higher vitamin demand due to the great physical effort they make. Pregnancy is also a critical period in which vitamin intake must be rigorously controlled.

The discovery of the role of vitamins came from the study of diseases that used to appear in individuals deprived of certain foods. These diseases are known today as avitaminosis or hipovitaminosis; among them scurvy, rickets, and pellagra are well known.

Types of vitamins

Vitamins have traditionally been classified according to their ability to dissolve in biological compartments, which are water (from serum) or fats (from adipose tissue and certain organs). All are designated by a letter or a letter plus a number, but they also have their own names. Types of vitamins and their functions

Water- soluble vitamins:  are those that dissolve in water. Within this group we find nine vitamins. Being soluble in water, they need to be ingested on a regular basis, since they have no way of being stored and are permanently eliminated in the urine. Included here are the B complex vitamins, which are eight, and vitamin C. Types of vitamins and their functions

  • Group B vitamins: These vitamins are present in foods such asfish, liver, brewer’s yeast, dairy products, whole grains and eggs. Also inleafy vegetables.
  1. B1 (thiamine):  its deficiency produces diseases such as peripheral neuritis (inflammation of the nerves that are outside the brain) or beriberi
  2. B2 (riboflavin):  important in body development, carbohydrate metabolism and in the formation of red blood cells.
  3. B3 (niacin):  is the precursor of NAD (nicotinamide), which is involved in important oxidation-reduction reactions (redox). Its extreme deficiency leads to pellagra, a disease that affects the skin, the digestive system and the nervous system.
  4. B5 (pantothenic acid):  it is required for the correct assimilation of carbohydrates, proteins and fats; its lack produces a decrease in the natural defenses to fight infections, also hemorrhages, weakness and dizziness. It is found in almost all foods (especially those of animal origin) and also intestinal bacteria can synthesize it, so its deficiency is quite rare Types of vitamins and their functions
  5. B6 (pyridoxine):  necessary for the synthesis of hemoglobin; It is also involved in the metabolism of steroid hormones and in the synthesis of several neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, dopamine or gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA).
  6. B8 (biotin):  can only be synthesized by bacteria , yeasts, fungi, algae and some plant species. It is essential for growth and development. Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency include hair loss, scaly rashes around the eyes or nose, lethargy, hallucinations, and numbness or tingling in the extremities.
  7. B9 (Folic Acid):  Found in green leafy vegetables, orange juice, and enriched flours or grains. Very important in the first months of pregnancy, its deficiency can cause serious defects of the unborn baby’s neural tube.
  8. B12 (cyanocobalamin):  contributes to the formation of red blood cells, prevents tiredness and fatigue. It is necessary for growth. It is present in the viscera (liver, kidneys), in eggs, in dairy products. Vegetables are poor in this vitamin.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): found in raw fruits and vegetables; it is a substance sensitive to oxygen and light, so it must be consumed immediately to exert its recognized antioxidant effect. It intervenes in the formation of collagen and is required for healing, among other functions. Its deficiency gives rise to a pathology called scurvy, which is why it is also called antiscorbutic vitamin.

Fat- soluble vitamins : are those that dissolve in the body’s fatty elements. These can remain in reserve in the fatty tissues of the body, so only these could accumulate to toxic levels. They are the following:

  • A (retinol):  Found in milk, egg yolks, and various vegetables; its insufficiency is the cause of eye disorders that can be serious. It also participates in the keratinization of the skin and bone growth. Types of vitamins and their functions
  • D (calciferol):  it is also known as the antirachitic vitamin, because it is involved in the absorption of calcium and in the correct formation of bones, or as the sun vitamin, because it is ingested as a provitamin and the body transforms it into an active vitamin when exposed to solar radiation. This vitamin prevents the onset of diseases such as osteoporosis and protects against bone fractures. It is also important for dental health. It is found in milk and eggs, also in other foods.
  • E (tocopherol):  Cereals and dried fruits (walnuts, hazelnuts) contain this vitamin, as well as leafy vegetables, dairy products and eggs. Lack of vitamin E can cause neurological and reproductive disorders. It stimulates the immune system.
  • K (phytomenadione):  it is present in various leafy vegetables (cabbage, cauliflower, spinach), also in cereals and in dairy products. It is essential for blood coagulation processes, so that hemorrhages do not occur.

Classification of Vitamins

Water soluble

Fat soluble

Vitamin B1→ Thiamine
Vitamin B2→ Riboflavin
Vitamin B3→ Nicotinamide /Niacin
Vitamin B5→ Pantothenic acid
Vitamin B6→ Pyridoxine , Pyridoxamine and pyridoxal
Vitamin H, Vitamin B7 or Vitamin B8→ Biotin
Vitamin B9 or Vitamin M→ Folic acid
Vitamin B12→ Cobalamin , Cyanocobalamin
Vitamin C→ Ascorbic Acid
Vitamin A→ Retinol
Vitamin D→ Calciferol
Vitamin E→ Tocopherol
Vitamin K Types of vitamins and their functions

Fat-soluble vitamins Types of vitamins and their functions

Fat-soluble vitamins are more stable and resistant to the effects of oxidation, heat, light, acidity and alkalinity than water-soluble vitamins. Its functions, food sources and consequences of its deficiency are listed in the following table:

Vitamin Functions Sources Consequences of disability
A (retinol) Maintaining healthy vision

Differentiation of epithelial cells

Liver, egg yolk, milk, carrots, sweet potato, pumpkin, apricot, melon, spinach and broccoli Blindness or night blindness, throat irritation, sinusitis, ear and mouth abscesses, dryness of the eyelids
D (ergocalciferol and cholecalciferol) Increases intestinal calcium absorption

Stimulates the production of bone cells

Decreases the excretion of calcium in the urine

Milk, cod liver oil, herring, sardines and salmon

Sunlight (responsible for activating vitamin D)

Knee varus, knee valgus, skull deformation, tetany in infants, bone fragility
E (tocopherol) antioxidant Vegetable oils, whole grains, green leafy vegetables and nuts Neurological problems and anemia in premature babies
K Contributes to the formation of clotting factors

Helps vitamin D synthesize a regulatory protein in bones

Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and spinach Prolongation of clotting time

Water-soluble vitamins Types of vitamins and their functions

Water-soluble vitamins have the ability to dissolve in water and are less stable than fat-soluble vitamins. The following table lists the water-soluble vitamins, their food sources and the consequences of a deficiency in these vitamins:

Vitamin Functions Sources Consequences of disability
C (ascorbic acid) collagen formation


iron absorption

Fruit and fruit juices, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green and red peppers, melon, strawberry, kiwi and papaya Bleeding of mucous membranes, inadequate wound healing, softening of bone ends, and weakening and loss of teeth
B1 (thiamine) Carbohydrate and amino acid metabolism Pork, beans, wheat germ and fortified cereals Anorexia, weight loss, muscle weakness, peripheral neuropathy, heart failure, and Wernicke’s encephalopathy
B2 (riboflavin) Protein metabolism Milk and dairy products, eggs, meat (especially liver) and fortified cereals Lip and mouth lesions, seborrheic dermatitis, and normocytic normochromic anemia
B3 (niacin) Production of energy

Synthesis of fatty acids and steroid hormones

Chicken breast, liver, tuna, other meats, fish and poultry, whole grains, coffee and tea Symmetrical bilateral dermatitis on the face, neck, hands and feet, diarrhea and dementia
B6 (pyridoxine) Amino Acid Metabolism Beef, salmon, chicken breast, whole grains, fortified cereals, bananas and nuts Mouth sores, drowsiness, fatigue, microcytic hypochromic anemia, and seizures in newborns
B9 (folic acid) DNA formation

Formation of blood, intestinal and fetal tissue cells

Liver, beans, lentils, wheat germ, peanuts, asparagus, lettuce, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and spinach Fatigue, weakness, shortness of breath, palpitations, and megaloblastic anemia
B12 (cyanocobalamin) DNA and RNA synthesis

Amino acid and fatty acid metabolism

Synthesis and maintenance of myelin

Meat, fish, poultry, milk, cheese, eggs, nutritional yeast, soy milk and fortified tofu Fatigue, pallor, shortness of breath, palpitations, megaloblastic anemia, loss of sensation and tingling of the extremities, locomotion abnormalities, memory loss and dementia

Function of vitamins in the body

Vitamins are substances that help in the functioning of the metabolic processes of the human body. Without them, the body suffers failures that lead to muscular, neurological and vision problems, for example. Types of vitamins and their functions

Unfortunately, the body does not have the ability to synthesize them, requiring them to be obtained from external sources such as food.

Find out below the main functions of each vitamin and where they can be found.

Vitamin A

Function: healthy vision
Where it is found: broccoli, melon, spinach, carrots, sweet potatoes, milk and egg yolks

Vitamin D Types of vitamins and their functions

Function: increased calcium absorption by the intestine, energy, stimulation of bone cell production
Where Found: Sunlight, Sardines, Salmon, Herring, Milk

Vitamin E Types of vitamins and their functions

Function: Antioxidant
Where Found: Whole Grains, Nuts, Vegetable Oils and Leafy Greens

Vitamin C Types of vitamins and their functions

Function: Antioxidant, Iron Absorption, Collagen Formation
Where Found: broccoli, green and red peppers, melons, papaya and citrus fruits

Vitamin B2

Function: protein metabolism
Where it is found: red meats, eggs, milk and dairy products

Vitamin B12 Types of vitamins and their functions

Function: metabolization of amino acids and fatty acids, synthesis of DNA, RNA and myelin. Types of vitamins and their functions
Where found: meat, fish, poultry, eggs and animal milk

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