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Vitamins and Herbs for better health Vitamins are a group of organic food substances or nutrients found only in living things, plants and animals. Vitamins were discovered by Dutch physician, Christian Eijkman, who won the 1929 Nobel Prize in physiology and medicine. The word vitamin was derived from the term vitamine. The term "vitamine" was first used in 1912 by Dr. Casmir Funk, a Polish biochemist, in reference to substances that were vital to life and contained an amine. Vitamins are divided into two classes based on their solubility. The fat-soluble vitamins include vitamin D, vitamin E, vitamin A, and vitamin K. The water-soluble vitamins are folate (folic acid), vitamin B12, biotin, vitamin B6, niacin, thiamin, riboflavin, pantothenic acid, and vitamin C (ascorbic acid). Fat-soluble vitamins contain only carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen while water-soluble vitamins contain these three elements plus nitrogen and some-times sulfur. Fat-soluble vitamins can be stored in appreciable amounts in the body and the water- soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body. Vitamins and herbs are necessary in small amounts for normal metabolism and good health. Vitamins and minerals have no calories and are not an energy source, but assist in metabolizing nutrients in food and are invaluable in keeping your body running smoothly. Vitamins make it possible for other nutrients to be digested, absorbed and metabolized by the body. Vitamins are sometimes referred to as the "spark plugs" of our human machine. They are required to do many things and their excess or depletion can lead to acute and chronic disease. Vitamins are essential for the normal growth and development of a multicellular organism. Using the genetic blueprint inherited from its parents, a fetus begins to develop, at the moment of conception, from the nutrients it absorbs. It requires certain vitamins and minerals to be present at certain times. These nutrients facilitate the chemical reactions that produce among other things, skin, bone, and muscle. If there is serious deficiency in one or more of these nutrients, a child may develop a deficiency disease. Even minor deficiencies may cause permanent damage. Vitamins are of vital importance in maintaining human health. Deficiencies of most of the vitamins will result in corresponding diseases. A deficiency of vitamin A can cause retarded skeletal growth, night blindness, various abnormalities of the skin and linings of the genitourinary system and gastrointestinal tract. Thiamin deficiency can lead to muscular weakness, leg cramps, slow heartbeat, and irritability, defective hydrochloric acid production in the stomach and consequent digestive disorders. Riboflavin deficiency can cause inflamed tongue, inflammation and ulcers in the mouth, Dandruff, weakness, abnormal blood vessel growth on the sclera, and low blood counts. A niacin deficiency often leads to a chronic illness called pellagra. Vitamin B5 deficiency causes depression, personality changes, and heart problems. Vitamin B6 deficiency can cause impaired immunity, skin lesions, and mental confusion.
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