Vitamins Introduction

Definitions
A vitamin is by definition a dietary substance not manufactured by the body, the absence of which develops a deficiency, and the administration of which removes that deficiency. Vitamins have specific if often multiple roles in growth, development, metabolism, and in physical and mental wellbeing.

This, vitamins accomplish by being indispensable parts of enzymes, basic ingredients of hormones and so on, protecting the living organism from the effects of a variety of deficiencies. Vitamins are divided into water-soluble, such as the B complex and C, and fat-soluble like A, D, E and K.

Water-soluble vitamins are stored for short periods in the organism, and deficiencies may develop rather quickly, usually in a matter of weeks or months. Fat-soluble vitamins on the contrary, are stored for much longer periods and deficiencies take much longer. Natural and synthetic.

Natural and synthetic
Most vitamins were first isolated from natural substances, and then produced synthetically. Today, there are virtually no natural vitamins. A sprinkling of a natural substance on a synthetically produced vitamin pill, does not change its synthetic nature.

Indeed, there are good reasons to think that the so-called "natural" vitamins are in no way superior to synthetic vitamins produced by reputable companies. In fact, were it not for the synthetic products, most of us would not be able to take truly natural vitamins. There are several reasons for that.

A question of bulk
To begin with, there is the question of bulk. Take niacin or vitamin B3 as an example, the vitamin most concentrated in brewer's yeast. One hundred grams or 3.5 ounces of brewer's yeast contain about 40mg of niacin. The customary vitamin pill containing 200mg of natural yeast niacin, would weigh half a kilogram or over a pound-quite a lot to swallow after breakfast. And a jar of 100 such "pills" would resemble a small refrigerator in size.

Less concentrated vitamins may require even larger space. Thus 100 grams of rose-hip or acerola powder contain 25-50mg of vitamin C. One 1000mg natural vitamin C tablet produced from rose hips would weigh 2-4 kilograms or 4.5-9 pounds, and have the size of a football. Even if you managed to acquire a taste for it and football was a favorite sport, it would still take you a week to eat through it. Storing a good supply of natural vitamin C would naturally require a small garage. So much for bulk.

A question of cost
Then, there is the question of cost. You must have noticed that "natural" vitamins often cost three times as much as equivalent synthetic products. Truly natural vitamins would cost a whole lot more.

Michael Colgan, who has made a study of the subject, estimates that vitamin C supplementation alone would cost $ 1,380 a year. It must be clear that few people could afford such costs.

The matter of taste
Finally, it is a question of taste. Most synthetic vitamins are so manufactured as to have no taste or very little of it. The natural product in the bulk described, may be totally unacceptable to our taste buds, no matter how desirable the vitamin may be. It is obvious that the magic word "natural" has been wildly oversold here.