A substance that is critical for proper functioning of a living organism that the organism is unable to produce in sufficient quantities for itself.

They were first named by Dr Casimir Funk in 1912.

Most vitamins function as a component of a coenzyme.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A (carotene) occurs in certain fats and the fatty parts of some foods. Also found in carrots and tomatoes. It is used by the human body to enable the eyes to perceive light, and to promote growth in children and to protect moist areas of the body such as the lining of the respiratory tract.

Retinol, C20H30O, a fat-soluble vitamin derived from carotenes.

Vitamin B

Vitamin B refers to a group of over eleven vitamins. Including Thiamine, Riboflavin, Nicotinic Acid, Pyridoxine, Pantothenic acid, biotin and other substances.

Vitamin B1

Found in wheatgerm and beans. Lack of vitamin B1 causes muscle weakness.

Thiamin (or Thiamine), C12H17N4OSCl.

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 (cyanocobolamin) is a deep-red crystalline, water-soluble solid found in liver, milk, eggs and fish. A deficiency can result in disorders of the nervous system and anaemia.

Cyanocobalamin (or Cyanocobalamine), C63H90CoN14O14P.

Vitamin B2

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) is a vitamin essential for growth, found in vegetables and milk. It was formerly known as vitamin G.

Riboflavin (or Riboflavine), C17H20N4O6.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 (nicotinic acid, niacin) is a crystalline acid found in meat and yeast and produced by the oxidation of nicotine.

Niacin (or Nicotinic Acid), C6H5NO2.

Vitamin B6

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) is a substance found in cereals, fish and meat and used by the body to produce haemoglobin.

Pyridoxin (or Pyridoxine), C8H11NO3.

Vitamin Bc

Folic Acid, C19H19N7O6.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is used by animal bodies for the production of the immune system, and maintenance of the skin and other cells. Vitamin C occurs almost exclusively in vegetable matter, and is destroyed by heat.

Ascorbic Acid, C6H8O6, a water-soluble vitamin found in many fruits and green vegetables.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D (Calciferol) is a substance which assists animal bodies to lay down calcium and phosphorus in bones. Vitamin D is mainly found in animal matter, and can also be produced by the body from sunlight.

This fat-soluble vitamin consists of steroid derivatives including Ergocalciferol, C28H44O, and Cholecalciferol, C27H44O.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E (alpha-tocopherol) is a pale-yellow, viscous fluid found in vegetable oil, eggs, cereals and butter and used in the body as an anti-oxidant and to maintain cell membranes.

This vitamin occurs in four naturally occuring forms, called α-, β-, γ-, and δ-tocopherol. The α form, C29H50O2, has the greatest activity; the β- and γ- forms have one fewer methyl group, and the δ- form two fewer.

Vitamin G

Vitamin G is a former name for riboflavin.

Vitamin H

Vitamin H (biotin) is a crystalline, water-soluble vitamin of the Vitamin B group. It is present in all living cells and is used as a growth factor and a catalyst in carboxylation.

Vitamin K

Found in vegatables and eggs. Lack of vitamin K causes the blood not to clot when you are cut.

See also: Biotin, Carotene.

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Subjects: Chemistry