Vitamins were first found to be essential for human health by Dr. William Fletcher in 1905. The term “vitamin” was subsequently coined by the Polish scientist, Cashmir Funk, by combining the word “vital” and “amine.”
Certain types of vitamin deficiency used to be common, and the scientific and medical communities were highly interested in these compounds. Over the years, the medical community has gained valuable knowledge about the roles vitamins play in the body's normal functions. Your child only needs a very small trace of vitamins to satisfy the body's daily requirement. Any excessive vitamins are simply excreted from the body.
Scientists have grouped vitamins into two categories: water-soluble and fat-soluble. These groupings are not arbitrary. Instead, they have important implications on how the body absorbs and eliminates these chemicals.
The water-soluble vitamins include vitamins in the B complex and vitamin C. Vitamin B consist of a collection of compounds, including thiamin (B1), riboflavin (B2), pyridoxine (B6), folic acid, and cobalamin (B12). These substances readily dissolve in water, so the body doesn't have the ability to store them. They are constantly being flushed out. As a result, your child must regularly consume small amounts of the water-soluble vitamins to prevent deficiency.
One of the most important discoveries that has come out of vitamin research is that folic acid deficiency during pregnancy can significantly increase the risk of certain types of birth defects. These birth defects common involve deformity of the spinal cord or the brain.
The famous scientist Linus Pauling made vitamin C infamous by associating high doses of it with prevention of the common cold. Vitamin C deficiency, scurvy, is often associated with sailors because prolonged sea voyages often include no fresh fruits or vegetables in the diet. However, unless your child doesn't eat any vegetables or fruits at all, this vitamin deficiency is quite rare.
Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. These vitamins can be stored in fat tissues, so the body is less likely to run out of these vitamins even if your child doesn't consume them on a daily basis.
Vitamin A is crucial for maintenance of good skin and generation of the light-sensitive components of the eyes. Deficiency can lead to skin rashes and poor vision. Fresh fruits and vegetables are the best sources of vitamin A. Overdose of vitamin A is the most common vitamin overdose, and the result can be devastating. Excessive intake of vitamin A can cause severe headache and even death.
Vitamin D is essential in the absorption of calcium and building strong bones. Rickets is a form of vitamin D deficiency in which the bones become extremely soft due to the lack of calcium. Vitamin D deficiency is still common in today's world. Natural sunlight plays an important role in enabling the body to produce its own vitamin D.
Dark-skinned children and adults are especially susceptible to vitamin D deficiency because the high concentration of skin pigmentation blocks sunlight from penetrating the body. People living in higher latitudes are also at higher risk of becoming vitamin D deficient because of the relative reduction in sun exposure.
Vitamin E is found in fresh vegetables and nuts. Early studies had demonstrated vitamin E's protective effect in preventing heart diseases and cancer, but more recent research has revealed that this connection is tenuous. Deficiency in vitamin E is extremely rare.
Vitamin K is an important factor in clotting. Without adequate vitamin K, the body's ability to stop bleeding is impaired. All newborns are naturally low in vitamin K, which is the rationale behind universal injection of vitamin K right at birth.