Vitamins were discovered by scientists in the twentieth century, when it was discovered that they are essential essential substances that enter the body through the diet, especially plant foods, and play an important role in physiological processes (especially in the metabolism of sugars, fats and proteins) and in the overall protection of the body. There are 13 basic types of vitamins that are essential components of our diet. The body does not make them on its own, which is why we must take them in through our diet. However, the need for vitamins is not staggeringly high, but it is still important to make sure that we have enough of them and that the body is more resistant to various infections. For most vitamins, the body can make stores, but vitamin C, for example, should be taken every day, as it is excreted by the body.

Each vitamin has a specific function, none of them can be replaced by increased intake of another vitamin, so all types of vitamins should be taken in equal measure. In some cases, the body needs an increased intake of certain vitamins. Vitamin deficiency is referred to as hypovitaminosis – it occurs in cases when the body is unable to take vitamins from the diet for certain reasons. Various health complications can arise from hypovitaminosis and even very serious to fatal ones. A deficiency of a certain type of vitamin can be made up by increasing the intake of foods with a certain vitamin, or by taking food supplements (for example, smokers need double the amount of vitamin C, skin problems require an increase in vitamin B intake, calcium often needs to be increased, etc.).

In addition to hypovitaminosis, the opposite case can also occur – an excess of the vitamin, which is referred to as hypervitaminosis. In most cases, it is sufficient to limit the diet that is richer in this vitamin. The greatest risk of “overdose” is with vitamins A and D, which are stored in fats for up to several years and can then result in poisoning of the body.

Vitamins maintain our bodily functions. Without them, the body could not function as it should and our immune system cannot do without them. Fortunately, there are now many food supplements that allow us to get vitamins into our bodies in the quantities we need.

Vitamins are divided according to their chemical and physical properties according to their solubility into water-soluble (hydrophilic) – B (B complex: thiamine, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, cobalamin, folic acid, biotin, PP – niacin, H, C – ascorbic acid) and fat-soluble vitamins (lipophilic) – A – retinol, D – calciferol, E – tocopherol, K – phylloquinone). The difference between water-soluble and fat-soluble vitamins is that water-soluble vitamins cannot be overdosed because they are excreted by the body, whereas fat-soluble vitamins are stored in adipose tissue and the liver, even for several years, and therefore can be overdosed and can cause various poisonings and, in worse cases, can result in very serious health complications. However, water-soluble vitamins must always be replenished as they only remain in the body for a short time.

Fat-soluble vitamins are usually found in meat, fish, dairy products (milk, butter) and vegetable oils, and even when these foods are boiled, the vitamins remain in them.

Water-soluble vitamins are much more sensitive than fat-soluble vitamins, so when foods containing these vitamins are brought to the boil they may be partially destroyed or remain in the water – this is particularly true of folic acid and vitamin C.

Some foods contain substances from which the body can then make the vitamin – for example, in the case of the yellow-orange coloured beta-carotene found in fruit and vegetables, which is then turned into vitamin A.

Vitamin A is found mainly in seafood, dairy products, eggs, tripe and fruit and is essential for proper growth and eye health.

Vitamin D is known as the ‘sunshine vitamin’ and is also one of a narrow group of fat-soluble vitamins. Vitamin D can be obtained in a simple way, by exposure to the sun’s rays, because the sun’s ultraviolet rays act on a provitamin stored in the deeper layers of the skin, which is converted into the vitamin and absorbed there. It helps the body to manage calcium and phosphorus properly. But this vitamin also helps fight cancer.

Vitamin E is found in spinach, egg, for example, and is essential against blood disorders and nervous disorders. 

The last of the fat-soluble vitamins is vitamin K, which is found mainly in green vegetables and helps blood clotting. 

The B complex vitamins help boost immunity in various types of diseases, helping cell renewal. Its deficiency can cause disorders of the digestive and nervous system, skin problems, etc. 

Vitamin C is especially important for higher resistance of the organism against various infections, vitamins PP and H are important for mucous membranes and skin, vitamin F affects the vascular system and the function of some glands.