A vitamin is an organic molecule whose insufficiency in the diet can result in disease. This concept has led to the misinterpretation by some, that a vitamin must only be derived from the diet. Vitamins are “micronutrients”, required in amounts less than one gram daily – usually less than one milligram. Some vitamins can be synthesized by the organism: vitamin A can be produced from beta carotene, niacin from the amino acid, tryptophan; and vitamin D through exposure of skin to ultraviolet light. To ensure adequacy, vitamins should be obtained through the diet. The term, vitamin, does not encompass other essential nutrients such as dietary minerals, essential fatty acids or essential amino acids, nor is it used for the large number of other nutrients that are merely health-furthering, but not strictly essential. For humans, we recognize 13 different vitamins.
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