A vitamin can be described as an organic compound that creates a physical deficiency when it is lacking in your diet. The word vitamin comes from the words "vital" and "amine." Originally, vitamins were thought to be amines, nitrogen-based compounds known for their fishy and foul odor. Although vitamins are not amines, some vitamins do contain them. Most vitamins can be derived from food sources, including fruits and vegetables.
Two types of vitamin A can be used by your body, preformed vitamin A, known as retinol, and beta-carotene, which the body transforms into vitamin A. It is possible to get too much preformed vitamin A. Vitamin A from beta-carotene, on the other hand, is not toxic at any level. Increasingly, supplements are using beta-carotene rather than preformed vitamin A. Fruits and vegetables containing vitamin A are canned pumpkin, cantaloupe, mango, squash, sweet potato, spinach and carrots.
Vitamin C fills numerous roles in the body. As an antioxidant, it neutralizes free radicals that may cause disease. It contributes to the immune system to help fight infections, and it assists in synthesizing collagen that is part of teeth, gums, bones and blood vessels. Fruits that have significant amounts of vitamin C are oranges, grapefruits and strawberries. Vegetables that have vitamin C are tomatoes, sweet red peppers, broccoli and potatoes.
There are eight types of antioxidants that fall under the vitamin E umbrella. Your body actively uses only one. Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant that intercepts free radicals and destroys them. It also plays a part in platelet aggregation and dilation of blood vessels. Synthetic vitamin E has only half the biological activity of vitamin E found in food. Fruits containing vitamin E are mangoes, avocados and apples. Vegetables with vitamin E are sweet potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes, turnips and spinach.
PABA stands for para-aminobenzoic acid. At one time PABA was termed vitamin B-x; however, it was found that the body could not synthesize PABA and a lack of PABA produced no deficiency. PABA is used topically in sunscreen to protect the skin from harmful ultraviolet rays. It is also used topically for a skin discoloration condition called vitiligo, where pigmentation is lost. Foods containing PABA are molasses, yogurt, kidney, liver, bran, brewer's yeast and whole grains.