General Question

Zone36's avatar

What are vitamins?

Asked by Zone36 (416points) June 5th, 2010

Please tell me what vitamins are made of.

For example, there is no Vitamin A on the periodic table. What is vitamin A composed of?
It’s beta carotine, but what’s that? It’s chemical composition is C40H56. So does that mean it’s just a bunch of carbon and hydrogen?

What about the other Vitamins?

I know what minerals are. Zinc, iron, calcium etc. It’s obvious what they are.

But no one has ever explained what vitamins are. They just say we need them.

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7 Answers

Lightlyseared's avatar

Organisms need all sorts of compounds in order to survive. Some compounds like carbohydrates or protiens are needed in large quantities and are therefore called macro nutrients. Vitamins are compounds the body needs only in very small amounts and are therefore called micro nutrients.

Organisms are very good at producing the chemicals they need to survive from the basic building blocks they get from things like protiens, fats etc but there are some chemicals they need that they are unable to produce themsleves and so they have to get them from their diet.

Vitamin A is made from retinol. Retinol is a molecule and is made up atoms of the elements carbon, hydrogen and oxygen. You will find individual elements on the periodic table.

Andreas's avatar

In short: Vitamins and minerals are part of properly grown and handled food and are something we all need on a daily basis. Without the proper balance of these important food components all sorts of physical and mental health problems will be experienced. This is a field of study that cannot be answered in full here, but is something that can be researched further online, if you wish.

Rarebear's avatar

Vitamins are essential chemicals that are not able to be synthesized by the body that are available in food we eat.

whitenoise's avatar

Vitamins are not a certain chemical group.
Their name derives from anima (± translates to live) and minimale.

A food substance therefore which you need a small amount of to make (our) life possible.

Zyx's avatar

Whitenoise that is wrong and you should feel bad.
Vitamins derive their name from Vita Amine meaning Amine of Life.
Amines being stuff containing nitrogen and stuff.

whitenoise's avatar

I agree… I must have been drunk. ;-/

I had already noticed and was even rather embarrassed when someone gave me a GA.

I’m now going back into hiding under my rock again

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