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Vitamin A

Creates a clear view

Vitamin A basics

Vitamin A also known as: Retinol Provitamin A also known as: ß-Carotene (beta-carotene) Important for: Vision, growth, development, skin, reproductive organs, immune system Animal Sources: Liver, egg yolk, butter, whole milk, cheese Grain/Fruit/Vegetable Sources: Orange-colored fruits and vegetables (apricot, carrots, melon, pumpkin), green leafy vegetables (spinach, broccoli), palm oil

Overview

Vitamin A is a group of fat-soluble compounds. Vitamin A, or retinol, comes from animal products, while Provitamin A, or ß-Carotene (beta-carotene), comes from fruits and vegetables and is converted in the body into retinol.

Discovery and history

As many as 3,500 years ago, Egyptians and other cultures had noticed that eating liver cured night blindness, but retinol was not discovered until 1909. It was then isolated in 1931. Beta-carotene was discovered and isolated in 1831.

Vitamin B1

Establishes healthy growth

Vitamin B1 basics

Also known as: Thiamine
Important for: Nervous system, muscles, heart function, healthy growth Animal Sources: Fish (eel, tuna), pork, kidney, heart, liver Grain/Fruit/Vegetable Sources: Brewer’s yeast (best source), whole grain cereals and bread, leafy vegetables, potatoes, dried legumes, dried fruit, nuts

Overview

Vitamin B1 is a water soluble vitamin that is part of the vitamin B complex group. Vitamin B1plays an important role in energy metabolism and is required for proper functioning of the nervous system and muscles, which contribute to a functional cardiovascular system.

Discovery and history

The active principle of vitamin B1 was discovered in 1897 by Dutch physician and pathologist Christiaan Eijkman, who was researching the causes of beriberi, a common and sometimes fatal disease that causes fatigue, weakness and heart failure...

Vitamin C

Strengthens our defenses

Vitamin C basics

Also known as: Ascorbic acid
Important for: Immune system, tissue growth and repair (especially skin, cartilage, tendons, ligaments and blood vessels), bone and teeth growth and repair, eye health, nervous system Animal Sources: Milk, liver Grain/Fruit/Vegetable Sources: Many fruits (especially citrus fruits), blackcurrants, strawberries, guava, mango, kiwi, peppers, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, potatoes, cabbage, spinach, tomatoes

Overview

Vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin perhaps most well-known for the disease caused by its deficiency — scurvy. Vitamin C is sensitive to light and heat — long storage and overcooking can destroy vitamin C in food, but refrigeration can prevent this loss.

Discovery and history

Vitamin C was discovered in 1912, and isolated in 1928. Doubts about the link between vitamin C deficiency and scurvy lingered until 1939 when, to prove the link, Harvard Medical School surgeon John Crandon withheld vitamin C from his own diet for 19 weeks until he became suddenly and seriously ill; he received an injection of vitamin C and almost immediately recovered. Between 1500 and 1800, scurvy killed as many as 2 million sailors — on a typical long voyage, scurvy would claim the lives of half the crew.

Vitamin D

Builds a strong foundation

Vitamin D basics

Also Known As: Calciferol Important for: Bone and teeth development and maintenance, muscles, immune system Main Source: Sunlight on skin Animal Sources: Fish liver oils, saltwater fish (sardines, herring, salmon and mackerel) eggs, meat, milk, butter (small amounts) Grain/Fruit/Vegetable Sources: None Other Sources: Mushrooms

Overview

Fat-soluble vitamin D differs from other vitamins because the main source is the sun – vitamin D is produced in the body when skin is hit by ultraviolet light. Nonetheless, vitamin D is recognized as an essential dietary nutrient.

Discovery and history

As early as the 1860s, scientists recognized how cod liver and sunlight – both sources of Vitamin D – were viable treatments for the diseases rickets (in children) and osteomalacia (in adults), both of which cause softening of the bones. However, it wasn’t until 1918 that vitamin D was officially discovered and in 1932 it was isolated.

Vitamin E

Protects what we're made of

Vitamin E basics

Also known as: Tocopherols and tocotrienols Important for: Healthy tissue, healthy organs, healthy cells, blood flow, fertility Animal Sources: Milk, butter, eggs Grain/Fruit/Vegetable Sources: Vegetable oils (olive, soya bean, palm, corn, safflower, sunflower, etc.), nuts, whole grains, wheat germ, vegetables (spinach, lettuce, cabbage, avocados)

Overview

Vitamin E functions as an antioxidant, protecting cells, tissues and organs from damage. It also contributes to healthy blood flow by regulating the opening of blood vessels and preventing cholesterol from building up on blood vessel walls. It is a fat soluble vitamin.

Discovery and history

In 1911, a scientist first reported a suspected “anti-sterility factor” in animals. Eleven years later, vitamin E was discovered (1922) and then isolated in 1936. However, it wasn’t until 1968 that the Food and Nutrition Board of the US National Research Council finally recognized vitamin E as an essential nutrient for humans.

Vitamin K

Regulates blood flow

Vitamin K basics

Also known as: Phylloquinone and menaquinones Important for: Blood clotting, blood vessel health, bone health, heart health Animal Sources: Cheese, meat, liver Grain/Fruit/Vegetable Sources: Leafy green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuce), oats, potatoes, tomatoes, asparagus, some vegetable oils, fermented soybeans

Overview

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that occurs naturally in plants, especially leafy green vegetables, and in some dairy products. This vitamin is best known for its role in helping blood to clot properly — the “K” comes from its German name, “Koagulationsvitamin.” Vitamin K occurs naturally in two forms: K1, which is found in plants, and K2, which is a group of compounds produced by bacteria.

Discovery and history

In 1929, Danish biochemist and physiologist Henrik Dam observed that chickens fed a fat-free diet would start bleeding. By 1935, he had discovered the substance that prevented excessive bleeding, which he named vitamin K. It was isolated in 1939.

Vitamins in Motion

Introducing Vitamins in Motion

Vitamins and minerals - micronutrients - play a important role throughout the lifecycle, and are essential for health and wellbeing in every stage of human life: from pregnancy, through infancy and childhood, into adulthood and old age. Our bodies need vitamins - whether through the diet, vitamin supplementation or fortified foods - to grow, function, stay healthy and prevent disease.

Vitamins in Motion is an initiative to raise awareness and advocate for increased access to the essential vitamins all people need to be healthy and well-nourished. Vitamins in Motion aims to highlight the vital role vitamins play in nutrition and health, and calls for finding and implementing scalable, cost-effective solutions to address the world's vitamin deficiencies. This site provides you with important information, useful tools, latest scientific publications and ground-breaking books, all around micronutrients. Join us in setting Vitamins into Motion!  

Published Thu. 20.03.2014 By:Céline Zuber

Micronutrient Forum - Bridging Discovery and Delivery

The Micronutrient Forum global conference in Addis Ababa from June 2nd to 6th, 2014 focuses on the convergence of interests and shared responsibility among stakeholders from various sectors, Read more...


Published Wed. 12.03.2014 By:Céline Zuber

Beautiful Minds - a U.S. health education campaign

Beautiful Minds: Finding your Lifelong Potential is an national health education campaign dedicated to improving brain health in all stages of life by providing research, education and inspiring Read more...


Published Tue. 18.02.2014

Landmark workshop on nutrient density

DSM and University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG) today co-host a landmark workshop on an essential new health concept: nutrient density. Read more...


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Folate Status in New Zealand: Does Yeast Extract Spread Make a Difference?

Culture influences food choices and nutrient status at the population level.  Even in countries that share cultural roots, there can be marked differences in the consumption of certain foods. New Zealand is a prime example, where recent shortages in supply of the Kiwis own beloved brand of yeast extract spread lead to a “crisis” situation. The consumption of yeast extract spread on bread or toast is not only a quaint undertaking by antipodeans, as the high levels of B-vitamins that are consumed with the spread can be of public health significance. Read more

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