Vitamins are important food substances the body needs. They must be supplied with food or feed, since the body is either incapable of providing them itself, or does so only in an insufficient quantity.
The word “vitamin” is composed of the Latin vita (life) and amine which refers to the chemical structure (nitrogen compound). At the turn of the twentieth century, physicians discovered the vitamins while they were studying deficiency diseases. The first vitamins identified in fact did represent nitrogen compounds (amines), but most of the vitamins known today were only discovered later and were found to belong to other substance classes, e.g. the acids. The term “vitamin” survived nevertheless.
The various vitamins fulfill and control highly specialized functions in an organism. A deficiency of vitamins is likely to produce illness.
Here is a selection of some important vitamins: