The existence of vitamins was predicted back in the year 1880, when the Russian scientist N.I. Lunin proved with his experiments that apart from nutrients, milk contained some other vital substances. However, suggestions about unknown (at that time) substances were made even earlier by physicians treating avitaminosis. A classic example of such disorder is scurvy, which used to be common among those wintering in the north. It seemed that they were getting enough fats, proteins and carbohydrates, but nevertheless in a couple of months they would start feeling very bad. However, as soon as they included sauerkraut to their diet, which does not contain almost any nutrients and calories, curvy stopped bothering them. Later it was found that cabbage, even the stale one, contains a lot of ascorbic acid.
In 1911, the Polish scientist Casimir Funk managed to isolate pure vitamins. Since then more and more substances of this type have been found out. Nowadays people know a couple of tens of vitamins and 21 of them can be synthesized for medical purposes.
It was calculated that a person needs around 0.15 grams of different vitamins per day. This amount might be very small, but normal products do not contain many vitamins, especially when they are subject to high temperatures, such as in cooking.
Anyway, both vegetarians and meat-eaters normally receive enough vitamins with food. It is worth mentioning that vitamins are most easily acquired from natural products, as the nature combines them in such way that different vitamins supplement each other.
Although there are people who control their diet responsibly, one cannot deny that the majority of people do not care much about it. It is these people that often start suffering from the lack of some vitamins especially during winter and spring. And it is for these people that pharmaceutical multivitamins, actively rejected by naturopaths, are produced.
There is a big difference between people with healthy habits who eat correctly, for whom artificial vitamins will not do any good, and weak sick ones who forgot the taste of fresh carrot and only see beetroot and cabbage in soups.
It is hard for those who eat many fruits and fresh vegetables every day and almost do not eat meat to understand the struggles of others. They take health for granted, they do not feel their stomach, liver and kidneys ache, they do not fall ill and do not even want to hear about vitamin pills. On the other hand, those who consume mainly refined products, eat a lot of meat, baked and sweet stuff, who often feel sick and tired, are recommended to take multivitamins during winter and spring as a preventive measure. Herbal vitamin teas can be great for this purpose.
However, even in perfectly healthy people the level of vitamins in blood can change depending on time of the year and that is absolutely normal. In fall the vitamin content is usually quite high, as our organism is saving vitamins to prepare for a long winter. In spring exams might show that you are lacking vitamins, but that is not a reason to worry. What matters most here is how you feel. And if a person is active and full of energy, if he sleeps well, does not feel sick or weak and does not suffer from colds, then whichever concentration of vitamins he has can be called normal. Surely in spring the vitamin levels will be lower than normal, as people, even though they closed themselves up in warm houses and stocked up with food, still remain a part of the surrounding world and can be influenced by its rhythms. If some animals hibernate during winter and others change their color, why should people have the same amount of vitamins throughout a year?
Of course we do not want to hibernate in winter and we strive for staying active the whole year. That is why we stock up fruits and vegetables for winter, import tropical fruits and grow veggies in greenhouses. There are no doubts that we need vitamins. But we also should not overestimate their role. What matters the most is how one feels.
But as many of us are not in a perfect health state and have not figured out what they should eat yet, let’s look in more detail at the most basic vitamins that people often start lacking when eating wrongly.
Text: from the book A.Eddar "Treatise of nutrition". Interpreter: Liza Dukhova