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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


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


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


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


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)


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


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

DSM Launches Ground-Breaking New Publication, The Road to Good Nutrition, at 20th International Congress of Nutrition

Published Mon. 16.09.2013

Part of DSM and Sight and Life’s Vitamins in Motion campaign, this new book brings together experience and insights of globally recognized experts in the field to forge collective action on malnutrition. The book is a snapshot of the current thinking on the global challenge of malnutrition, intended to accelerate progress toward a world where everyone receives the food and nutrition they need to be healthy and well nourished.

Press Release
Executive Summary
Table of Contents
Contributor Biographies
Full Text

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