Almost everyone has some vague sense of what a "vitamin" is – namely, something important, even essential, for proper nutrition. Many people get all their vitamins from food and environmental exposure, but some also consume vitamin-stocked nutritional supplements to bolster their intake.
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Vitamins are nutrients that are considered critical for an organism and yet cannot be adequately produced (synthesized) by that organism; they must be gleaned from the diet. These organic chemical compounds accomplish their work in small doses, and it's that work – their biochemical processes, which collectively account for a hugely diverse spectrum – which categorizes them.
The standard divisions of vitamins – A, B, C, D, and so on – actually each include a number of different compounds (called vitamers) lumped together by a common physiological function. Vitamin A, for example, encompasses two basic groups: the retinoids and the carotenoids, sourced from animals and plants, respectively. A is notable for supporting healthy vision. One of its retinoid forms, retinal, is a fundamental constituent of the optical molecules that absorb light. Carrots are famously rich in carotenoids, hence the old admonishment to boost your "night vision" by eating plenty of those root vegetables. It's also thought to support proper immune and cellular-growth function.
Two types of vitamin D are critical for human beings: vitamin D2 (or ergocalciferol), derived from plants, and vitamin D3 (or cholecalciferol), which we absorb via UVB sunlight rays. Vitamin D helps the body maintain proper stores of calcium and phosphorus and reinforces bone strength and stability. It may also play a role in safeguarding against some cancers, hypertension, osteoporosis, and other maladies. A deficiency of vitamin D – as in some elderly individuals or in someone who consistently doesn't get the very modest amount of sunlight necessary for the body to uptake vitamin D3 – often manifests as rickets in children or general bone and muscle weakness in adults.
Everyone knows citrus – and oranges, specifically – are fine sources of vitamin C, although many may not know its particular action in the body. Ascorbic acid, a primary vitamer of vitamin C, serves in the production of collagen, muscle, blood vessels, and cartilage. It's also an aid in the body's absorption of iron. Scurvy can result from an inadequate intake of vitamin C.
People who consume well-rounded and balanced diets often receive all the nutrients they need without need for supplementation. Nonetheless, vitamin tablets and other nutritional supplements may be useful for those who lack such comprehensive nutrition, are suffering from particular health conditions, or have otherwise been recommended to take them by a medical professional.
Natural vitamins are vitamins that lack any synthesized compounds in their makeup. Some manufacturers use synthetics in the creation of their supplement in order to boost the effectiveness and potency of the vitamin. Natural vitamins eschew this method for a more basic creation process that incorporates purely natural ingredients. Many people who are looking for an organic approach or an eco-friendly supplement opt for these natural vitamins.
Natural vitamin supplements may provide a dose of one particular vitamin or, as "multivitamins," serve up a cocktail of several groups. They come in a wide variety of forms, from pills and capsules to chewable gummies and liquids. Naturally, they're meant to be used within the context of the broader essential framework of diet and lifestyle – part of a whole package, in other words.
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