Vitamins | Biology Notes

Vitamins are essential nutrients and organic compounds found in foods that are crucial for maintaining proper health & functioning of the body. The term "Vitamin" was derived from the word "vitamine" coined by biochemist Casimir Funk in 1912. 

But it was  Sir Frederick Gowland Hopkins who is credited with the discovery of essential nutrient factors, now known as Vitamins, for which he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1929.
He also discovered the amino acid tryptophan, in 1901.

Of the 13 globally recognized vitamins, there are two different types. They are fat-soluble vitamins and water-soluble vitamins.
Classification of Vitamins

Fat-soluble Vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins that can be dissolved in fat before they get absorbed into the bloodstream to carry out their functions. Excesses of these vitamins are stored in the liver and are not needed every day in the diet. They are:
  • Vitamin A – Retinol – Night Blindness, Xerophthalmia, Rough & Dry Skin
  • Vitamin D – Calciferol – Rickets, Osteomalacia
  • Vitamin E – Tocopherol – Mild hemolytic anemia in newborn infants.
  • Vitamin K – Phylloquinone – Delay in Blood Clotting

Water-soluble Vitamins

Nine water-soluble vitamins — vitamin B-complex group and vitamin C — are found in the human diet:
  • Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) – Beriberi, Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome
  • Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – Ariboflavinosis
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacin) –Pellagra
  • Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) – Paresthesia
  • Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) – Anaemia
  • Vitamin B7 (Biotin) – Dermatitis, Enteritis
  • Vitamin B9 (Folic Acid) – Malnutrition in the growth and development of the fetus during Pregnancy
  • Vitamin B12 (Cobalamin) – Pernicious anemia ( a type of Megaloblastic anemia)
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) – Scurvy

Vitamins, Sources & their functions

Vitamins Sources & Functions

Provitamin: any ingested substance that an organism can transform into a vitamin.
Antivitamin: any substance that interferes with the metabolic action of a vitamin.
Antioxidant vitamins: any substance that prevents cell damage due to aging. The three major antioxidant vitamins are beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E.
Brain vitamins: Vitamin B6, B9, and B12 are essential for the proper functioning of the brain.

Vitamins, Year of Discovery & Discovered By

Year Vitamin Discovered by
1912 Vitamin A Frederick Gowland Hopkins
1910 Vitamin B1 Casimir Funk
1920 Vitamin C Albert Szent-Györgyi
1920 Vitamin D Sir Edward Mellanby
1920 Vitamin B2 Alexander Wynter Blyth
1922 Vitamin E Herbert McLean Evans
1929 Vitamin K1 Henrik Dam
1931 Vitamin B5 Roger J. Williams
1931 Vitamin B7 Vincent du Vigneaud
1934 Vitamin B6 Paul György
1936 Vitamin B3 Conrad Arnold Elvehjem
1941 Vitamin B9 Lucy Wills
1948 Vitamin B12 Various scientists

📝 Read More: Repeated PSC Questions on Vitamins.

📝 SideNotes:

  • Father of vitamin therapy – Casimir Funk.
  • Disease that used to be known as "the English Disease" – Rickets.
  • The organ which stores fat-soluble vitamins – Liver.
  • First artificially developed Vitamin – Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin known as Sunshine Vitamin – Vitamin D.
  • Another name of Vitamin H – Vitamin B7.
  • Vitamin known as Fresh Food Vitamin and Anti Cancer Vitamin – Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin produces collagen – Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin produces melaninVitamin C & E.
  • Which disease is also known as Sailor Plague – Scurvy.
  • The overdose of which vitamin causes Liver damage – Vitamin B3.
  • The presence of cobalt in vitamin B12 was established for the first time by – Borax-Bead test.
  • Test for Night Blindness – Rose Bengal Test.
  • Vitamin used for ELISA test (AIDS) – Vitamin B7 (Biotin).
  • Vitamin that helps in the absorption of Calcium – Vitamin D.
  • Vitamin that helps in healing wound – Vitamin C.
  • Vitamin that helps in blood clotting – Vitamin K.
  • The structure analog of vitamin K, which is used as an anticoagulantWarfarin.
  • Vitamin is also called as Pyridoxine Vitamin B6.
  • Pyridoxine is a mix of how many derivatives – 3 (Pyridoxal, Pyridoxine & Pyridoxamine).
  • Deficiency of vitamin B6 causes – Eczema.
  • Deficiency of which vitamin causes Cerebral Hemorrhage – Vitamin K.
  • The deficiency of which group of vitamins affects the skin – Vitamin B (Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Pantothenic Acid).
  • Overdose of which vitamin causes the disease Hypervitaminosis (abnormally high storage levels of vitamins which leads to toxicity)Vitamin A.
  • Vitamin that slows down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease – Vitamin B.
  • Vitamin that serves as a hormone precursor – Vitamin D.
  • A deficiency which vitamin causes Bowlegs, knocknee and pigeon chest in children Vitamin D.