The Discovery of Vitamins: Essential Nutrients for Human Health

Vitamins play a vital role in human health, as they are essential nutrients that our bodies require in order to function. But how did vitamins come to be discovered? This article will explore the history of the discovery of vitamins and their importance to our overall health.

What are Vitamins and What Do They Do?

Vitamins are organic compounds that are present in the food we eat and that our bodies need in order to remain healthy. They are not produced in our bodies, which is why we need to get them through dietary sources. Vitamins are essential for a range of bodily functions, such as helping to produce collagen, aiding metabolism and assisting with the regulation of hormones. Different vitamins also play a role in other areas, such as vision, neural development and maintaining the health of our bones, teeth and skin.

The History of Vitamin Discovery

The discovery of vitamins can be traced back to the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when researchers first began to uncover their importance for human health. In 1912, biochemist, Elmer McCollum, was one of the first scientists to discover two vitamins—vitamin A and yeast extract. He named the newly discovered vitamins ‘vitamin A’, after the chemical compound they were first associated with, and ‘yeast extract’ because they were first isolated in the form of yeast extract.

In the 1920s and 1930s, additional vitamins were identified, including Vitamin B1 and Vitamin C. Vitamin B1 was discovered by a Norwegian chemist, Casimir Funk, and Vitamin C was identified by two different teams of scientist, led by American biochemist, Charles Glen King and Dutch doctor, Christiaan Eijkman.

The final vitamins —vitamins D, E, K and B12– were discovered later in the 20th century, and the discovery of folic acid, which is an important nutrient for pregnant women, occurred in the 1940s.

What We Know Now: The Modern-Day Applications of Vitamin Discovery

Since the initial discovery of vitamins, researchers have continued to uncover more about the importance of vitamins for human health. For example, it has been discovered that vitamin D helps to maintain healthy bones, vitamin C supports the immune system and diabetics may benefit from taking vitamin B1.

Vitamins are also added to foods in order to provide additional nutrition, fortify them and make them safe to eat. Many packaged foods, such as cereals, breakfast bars and milk, contain added vitamins and minerals. In particular, fortifying foods with vitamin D has become increasingly popular, as vitamin D aids in the absorption of calcium in the body.

Importance of Vitamin Intake

Vitamins are essential for human health and required in order to help the body with a range of different functions. Without an adequate intake of vitamins, an individual could experience a range of vitamin-deficiency symptoms, such as fatigue, nausea, weight loss and a weakened immune system. Vitamin deficiencies can easily be avoided by eating a healthy, balanced diet that includes a range of different foods, such as fruits and vegetables.

In addition, taking a multivitamin supplement can be beneficial for individuals who may not be consuming an adequate amount of vitamins from their diet. To ensure the supplement is safe and effective, it is important to read the active ingredients and dosage recommendations.

This article has explored the history of the discovery of vitamins and their importance for human health. Since the first vitamins were discovered, many different vitamins and their functions have been uncovered and it has been determined that vitamins play an essential role in a range of bodily processes, including metabolism and immunity. The best way to ensure adequate intake of vitamins is through a healthy, balanced diet with a range of different foods. In addition, vitamin supplements can be beneficial to those who may not be getting adequate amounts of vitamins in their diet.