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Vitamin sources, health risks

Wednesday, January 03, 2018 by

A vitamin is a substance found naturally in nature, but is also formulated in laboratories to create supplements. Vitamins are nutrients that our bodies need to function and maintain good health. However, large amounts of vitamins may have its health risks as well.

Our bodies supply us with the vitamins we need daily, but there are instances when we lack certain vitamins, especially when we ingest unhealthy food and have insufficient amounts of physical activity. This is where supplements come in. Vitamin supplements are created in laboratories to satisfy our body’s nutritional needs. Other sources of vitamins include food, mostly in fruits and vegetables. The term “vitamin” is also conditional – humans may find vitamin C beneficial, but animals don’t.

Examples of vitamins include vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12, C, D, E, and K. Generally, vitamins do not include other nutrients such as dietary minerals, essential fatty acids, and amino acids. Prior to the 1930s, vitamins were obtained through food intake alone.

Vitamins are made up of vitamers, or chemicals. Vitamin A consists of retinol, retinal, and four carotenoids (including beta carotene). Vitamin B1 has thiamine; vitamin B2 has riboflavin; vitamin B3 has niacin, niacinamide, nicotinamide, and riboside; vitamin B5 has pantothenic acid; B6 has pyridoxine, pyridoxamine, and pyridoxal; vitamin B7 has biotin; vitamin B9 has folates; and vitamin B12 has cyanocobalamin, hydroxocobalamin, methylcobalamin, and adenosylcobalamin. Vitamin C is composed of ascorbic acid, and vitamin D consists of cholecalfciferol (D3), and ergocalciferol (D2). Vitamin E has tocopherols and tocotrienols, while vitamin K has phylloquinone and menaquinones.

Harmful effects that may be caused by vitamins

Excessive vitamin intake can cause an upset stomach and excessive thirst. Some vitamins like selenium may cause skin rashes and hair loss. Vitamin D can cause you to lose bone mass. Vitamins and minerals like sodium may cause kidney stones, cardiovascular disease, and gastric cancer. Other side effects of excessive vitamin intake include bone or joint pain, convulsions, drying or cracking of skin and lips, fever, general discomfort, increased frequency of urination, irritability, loss of appetite, hair loss, vomiting, and unusually colored skin patches.

Body systems harmed by vitamins

Vitamins may be good for the body but too much can break the body too. Certain vitamins such as vitamins A, B-3, B-6, C, D, E, and K, can cause liver damage and neurological symptoms. Vitamins have bioaccumulative properties that can be toxic to humans. Large doses of iron, for example, can destroy the liver and affect the brain and spinal cord. Manganese overdoses may result in symptoms similar to that of Parkinson’s disease.

Where to learn more


Vitamins are organic substances found in most food items, but can also be formulated in laboratories into supplements.

Vitamins have both health benefits and risks, so moderation should be exercised.


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