Vitamins are merely organic compounds that the body uses for essential functions. There are two categories of vitamins: water-soluble and fat-soluble. The body requires nine water-soluble vitamins. Many of the water soluble vitamins are precursors for coenzymes for the enzymes of intermediary metabolism. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body. What is not used will be excreted in the urine.
Folic acid is a water-soluble vitamin that is essential for protein and red blood cell formation. Folic acid is essential during pregnancy for healthy development of babys brains and nervous system. Deficiencies in folic acid during pregnancy lead to spina bifida and anencephaly. Proper vitamin supplementation before and during pregnancy can prevent this.
Vitamin B12 also known as cobalamin is an essential water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin B12 is essential for DNA synthesis. Vitamin B12 is also part of the red blood cell ring that carries oxygen. Pernicious anemia is a related to a vitamin B12 deficiency. Deficiency of vitamin B12 is rarely a result of the vitamins absence in the diet. Many who develop pernicious anemia lack intrinsic factor, which binds to the vitamin for absorption purposes.
Vitamin C also known as ascorbic acid is an essential water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin C is required for the maintenance of normal connective tissue and the formation of collage. This vitamin can be found in skin care products. Vitamin C increases the absorption of iron in the diet. Vitamin C is an essential anti-oxidant (free radical damage). Scurvy is a disease associated with vitamin C deficiency.
Vitamin B6 known as pyridoxine is also a water-soluble vitamin. Pyridoxine is essential for protein digestion and utilization. This vitamin is essential for brain function and hormone production.
Vitamin B1 known as thiamine is a water-soluble vitamin. Thiamine plays a key role in energy metabolism of most cells (ATP), particularly the nervous system. Beriberi and Wernicke-Korsakoff syndrome are diseases caused by a severe thiamine deficiency.
Niacin (vitamin B3) is an essential water-soluble vitamin. Niacin functions as a precursor to NAD and NADP. Niacin is essential for energy production, brain function, and healthy skin. A deficiency in niacin causes pellagra and type IIb hyperlipoproteinemia. Niacin also helps to lower LDLs in the blood.
Riboflavin (vitamin B2) is a water-soluble vitamin that assists in turning fats, sugars, and protein into energy. Riboflavin is needed to repair and maintain healthy skin. Riboflavin also assists in regulating bodily acidity. There are no diseases associated with a riboflavin deficiency. However, riboflavin deficiencies commonly accompany other vitamin deficiencies.
Biotin is an essential water-soluble vitamin that is needed for healthy childhood development. Biotin helps the body use essential fats. Biotin promotes healthy skin, hair, and nerves. Biotin deficiency does not occur naturally because the vitamin is widely distributed in food.