Nutrition Basics, Part 3: Vitamins

Often, schools don't have the time to teach nutrition. That's why I've been teaching Nutrition Basics in this blog series.

I already talked about the Macronutrients--carbohydrates, protein, and fat. 

Next up are Micronutrients, or nutrients we need in small amounts. There are two main types: Vitamins and Minerals. 

Today, I'm focusing on Vitamins. I'll cover Minerals next...
Vitamins or "Vital Amines"
Vitamins are essential compounds that our bodies cannot make but that are naturally present in small amounts in foods. 

There are many vitamins and often multiple forms of each. To add to the confusion, they have scientific names in addition to their letter and number names. For example, you may have heard of Thiamin, which is vitamin B1. 

Fat-Soluble Vitamins
The fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D2, D3, E, K1, K2, and K3. They are called fat soluble vitamins because they are better absorbed when taken with fat. This is one reason that it's important to eat fat, like butter or whole milk. 

These vitamins are also stored in fat in our bodies. Because these vitamins can be stored in our bodies, we do not have to eat them daily. That's why some people only take vitamin D3 once weekly. 

Water-Soluble Vitamins The Water-Soluble Vitamins include vitamin A, B1, B2, B3, B4, B6, B7, B9, B12, and C. These do not need to be consumed with fat. They are not usually stored in the body, with the exception of vitamin B12.  

Should I Take a Multivitamin?
Probably. Most Americans don't get enough vitamins from food. People with some medical conditions may also need more than the standard Recommended Daily Allowance for their age and gender. If you have kidney failure, for example, your physician can prescribe a mulitvitamin specific to your needs. 

Disclaimer: The information provided above is for educational purposes only. Please talk to your dietitian or another healthcare provider for individualized advice. To find a dietitian, visit


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