You may take supplements or chew gummies to get your vitamin daily intake, but most of the vitamins you need are in the food you eat. For those who don’t know, vitamins are organic compounds that are needed in small quantities in order to sustain a healthy life.
Your body can’t produce vitamins, but it can synthesize them, like vitamin D for example. People get most of their vitamin D from exposure to sunlight because there is not enough available in our food. However, the human body can synthesize it when it is exposed to sunlight.
No two things are exactly alike — different vitamins play different roles in our bodies and they are needed in different quantities. So, how many vitamins are there? What happens if we don’t get enough of these vitamins?
What Are Vitamins?
A vitamin is a group of organic substances that are available in small amounts in the food we eat. Vitamins are essential for supporting normal bodily functions, and if we don’t get enough of our vitamin intake, certain medical conditions can be the result of it.
Vitamins have three characteristics that include the following:
- They’re natural components in food; usually available in small amounts.
- They’re imperative for normal physiological functions like growth and reproduction.
- When absent from your diet, they can cause a specific deficiency.
There are 13 known vitamins that are either classified as water-soluble or fat-soluble. Think of water-soluble vitamins as you do water in general because these types of vitamins do not stay in the body for long. Since our body can’t store them, they are excreted through our urine. As a result, water-soluble vitamins need to be replaced more often than fat-soluble ones.
Water-soluble vitamins include the following:
- Vitamin B
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B7
- Vitamin B9
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin C
Fat-soluble vitamins, as the name suggests, are stored in the fatty tissue of the body and the liver. They are absorbed through the intestinal tract with the assistance of lipids known as fats. Fat-soluble vitamins are easier to store than water-soluble vitamins, and they can remain in the body for days, even months.
Fat-soluble vitamins include the following:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin K
What Happens When We Don’t Get Enough Vitamins?
As we now know, vitamins are essential for keeping our body healthy. Not getting enough of them can cause complications and lead to malnutrition. When we think of malnutrition, we assume that it only occurs in developing countries, but the truth is malnutrition occurs in the U.S. as well.
Malnutrition isn’t the same thing as starving. Being overweight and eating a diet that is lacking essential vitamins can lead to malnutrition. Not receiving an adequate intake of these nutrients can have a massive impact on your body, regardless of your size.
The sole purpose of eating the food we eat is to provide our bodies with the nutrients needed to properly function. Not eating enough of them or eating too many processed foods with additives means you’re not supplying your body with the fuel it needs to perform mentally or physically. Along with that, it can lead to
- Low immunity
- Brittle bones
- Poor oral health
So, when your doctors recommend eating a more balanced diet, they mean a diet with all the essential vitamins, because not enough of them can do more harm than you think.