Why do you need vitamins? You need vitamins to prevent diseases and support your body. We also cannot live without vitamins.
When sailors came to the New World, a lot of them got scurvy. Scurvy is when your gums bleed and your bones will become brittle, soon causing death. Scurvy occurs when you do not get enough vitamin C. Vitamin C is found in fresh fruits and vegetables. The sailors did not get either because the fresh fruits and vegetables would go bad on the long trip.
Over 1,000 years ago many people in Asia were dying of beri-beri. Beri-beri occurs when you do not have enough thiamin. Thiamin is a B vitamin and was found about a century ago. Asian people were eating too much polished white rice. Polished white rice is low in thiamin. They did not get a lot of meat or vegetables in their diet. These are high in thiamin and needed to turn carbohydrates, like bread and cereal, into energy. If you got beri-beri, then you would loose your appetite, feel lazy and weak, and feel so stiff that could not move easily. You would get swollen nerves, too. Nerves are things that help send messages from parts of your body to your brain. Late in the 19th century, the Japanese Navy proved that you couldnít eat only polished white rice. The Japanese admiral compared his sailorsí diets to the Americansí diet. He found that they needed to eat greens with thiamin.
Rickets was another common disease in northern Europe. It still is common today with seniors in the United States. In northern Europe, the sun doesnít shine a lot and you get vitamin D from the sun. You can also get vitamin D from milk. The children in northern Europe could not get enough sunshine and milk. Their bones became deformed or they were born deformed. The childrenís ribs became like beads on a string. The children were also restless and always sweating. They could get a delay on learning to sit, crawl, or walk. There might also be a delay in getting teeth. You should get your first tooth anywhere from 6 month to 18 months. If you have rickets, you can get your first baby tooth at 5 years. The government of Europe solved the problem with rickets by having people drink a lot of vitamin D milk and having foods enriched with vitamin D. Seniors that do not go outside get a risk of getting rickets. They can prevent it by getting a lot of vitamin D.
Pellagra was a big problem in the southern U.S. after the Civil War. Pellagra was caused by a lack of niacin. Many people in the south were corn farmers and therefore ate a lot of corn. Corn is lacking in niacin. Niacin is a B vitamin. If you got Pellagra, you would most likely get dermatitis, diarrhea, and dementia. Dermatitis is when you get a rash on your skin. Your legs, arms, and neck become sensitive to sunlight. Diarrhea is when you get loose bowels. Dementia is when you loose your memory. The U.S. government solved the Pellagra problem. They told people to add more meat and vegetables to their diet.
Folic acid is the most needed vitamin. Itís a B vitamin and makes blood cells. Blood cells make up your blood. Folic acid prevents heart disease. Too much homocysteine can give you heart disease. Homocysteine is the protein in your body. Folic acid gets rid of the extra homocysteine in your body. It prevents neural tube birth defect. Neural tube birth defect is where a baby is born deformed. Women who are going to be pregnant should double their amount of folic acid in their diets. Folic acid is the most important vitamin to have if you are pregnant.
A vitamin that is need to help you see is vitamin A. If you do not have enough vitamin A, then you could get a disease called xerophthalmia. If you cannot see at night, you have a disease called nyctalopia. That is a sign that you might get xerophthalmia. There is a chance you can become blind if it is not treated right away. Still, there are five stages that you have to go through before you become blind. Vitamin A also keeps your epithelial tissues, which are the skin and the lining of your body healthy. Linings cover the organs in your body.
Vitamin K is used for blood clotting. If you get a cut, blood will form a scab to stop bleeding. If you do not have vitamin K, blood will keep gushing out and you might have to have stitches. It is good to have vitamin K so you canít loose blood. It is very bad to loose blood because your body cannot function without it. It is also given to newborn babies because bacteria that makes vitamin K has not developed in their bodies. If newborn babies do not have vitamin K, then they will start to bleed and get hemorrhagic disease. You do not need to give babies vitamin K because the hospital gives them enough until they develop the bacteria that makes vitamin K. Scientist also think that vitamin K can help your bones become strong and healthy.
Vitamin B6 takes apart protein and uses it as energy for your body. Vitamin B6 also builds protein molecules, which each cell in your body needs to function normally. Vitamins are naturally in food; they are in vitamin pills, too. Vegetarians need vitamin pills to get B vitamins. B vitamins are found in meat.
Vitamin B12 is known as cobalamin. Before the 1920ís, pernicious anemia killed many people. You got pernicious anemia from a lack of vitamin B12. Pernicious anemia is where your body cannot produce a protein to move vitamin B12. This will cause you to not have enough red bloods cells. Vitamin B12 produces the red blood cells. Vitamin B12 cures pernicious anemia by getting injections of vitamin B12. If you cannot move vitamin B12 around in your blood stream, you have an increased risk of heart disease, which could lead to death.
In the 19 century, people believed you got any disease from germs. They never thought that lack of vitamins could cause diseases. Now many people know that if you donít eat right, you can get sick. The diseases in this report barely ever happen now because more people eat right.