Vitamins are organic components in food that are needed in very small amounts for growth and for maintaining good health. The vitamins include vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin K, or the fat-soluble vitamins, and folate (folic acid), vitamin B 12 , biotin, vitamin B 6 , niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin C (ascorbic acid), or the water-soluble vitamins. Vitamins are required in the diet in only tiny amounts, in contrast to the energy components of the diet. The energy components of the diet are sugars, starches, fats, and oils, and these occur in relatively large amounts in the diet.
Most of the vitamins are closely associated with a corresponding vitamin deficiency disease. Vitamin D deficiency leads to diseases of the bones such as
osteoporosis and rickets. Vitamin E deficiency occurs only rarely, and causes nerve damage. Vitamin A deficiency is common throughout the poorer parts of the world, and causes night blindness. Severe vitamin A deficiency can result in xerophthalamia, a disease which, if left untreated, results in total blindness.
Vitamin K deficiency results in spontaneous bleeding. Mild or moderate folate deficiency is common throughout the world, and can result from the failure to eat green, leafy vegetables or fruits and fruit juices. Folate deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia, which is characterized by the presence of large abnormal cells called megaloblasts in the circulating blood. The symptoms of megaloblastic anemia are tiredness and weakness. Vitamin B 12 deficiency occurs with the failure to consume meat, milk or other dairy products. Vitamin B 12 deficiency causes megaloblastic anemia and, if severe enough, can result in irreversible nerve damage. Niacin deficiency results in pellagra . Pellagra involves skin rashes and scabs, diarrhea , and mental depression. Thiamin deficiency results in beriberi , a disease that can cause atrophy, weakness of the legs, nerve damage, and heart failure. Vitamin C deficiency results in scurvy, a disease that involves bleeding. Specific diseases uniquely associated with deficiencies in vitamin B 6 , riboflavin, or pantothenic acid have not been found in humans, though persons who have been starving, or consuming poor diets for several months, might be expected to be deficient in most of the nutrients, including vitamin B 6 , riboflavin, and pantothenic acid.
Some of the vitamins serve only one function in the body, while other vitamins serve a variety of unrelated functions. Therefore, some vitamin deficiencies tend to result in one type of defect, while other deficiencies result in a variety of problems.
Below are some charts showing the types of Vitamins, their sources, uses and functions and deficiency disorders: