Why Do We Need Vitamins?

Bet you did not know that a Polish-American chemist Casimir Funk came up with the work “vitamin” in the early 20th century. Funk was searching for a substance in foods that prevents certain diseases as rickets and scurvy. During this time period, these diseases were very common.

Why do vitamins do for us? They help the body carry out many essential functions. Vitamins work with proteins to create enzymes that enable chemical reactions. These enzymes play an important role in metabolism which helps break down the fats, carbohydrates, and proteins in food so that the body can use them for many other things like energy and cell repair. The enzymes also play a role in the formation of bone, hormones, blood cells, nervous-system chemicals, and genetic material. There would be many problems without vitamins such as these reactions slowing down. There is no chemical relationship between vitamins and each one has a different function.

If a person lacks certain vitamins, this can lead to various diseases. Not enough vitamin C, for example, can cause rickets, a disease in which the bones fail to develop properly. Bowlegs are signs of rickets. Rickets and the other vitamin-deficiency diseases have largely disappeared in the developed world as the result of fortified foods and improved nutrition. But many of these diseases still occur in the developing world, especially where malnutrition is common.

During the 1990s, the interest in vitamins started to take off especially in those vitamins that act as antioxidants—vitamins A, C, and E. The purpose of an antioxidants is to neutralize molecules. A number of disorders,have been linked to free radicals. As a result they have been linked to including Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, diabetes, and Parkinson disease. It is the opinion of experts in this area that increased doses of antioxidants might also prevent and even cure such diseases. These claims have not been proven; however, studies have failed to demonstrate the preventive abilities of antioxidants.