If you’re like most kids, you’ve probably heard at least one parent say, “Don’t forget to take your vitamin!” or “Eat your salad — it’s packed with vitamins!” But what exactly are vitamins?
Vitamins and minerals are substances that are found in the foods we eat. Your body needs them to work properly, so you grow and develop just like you should. When it comes to vitamins, each one has a special role to play. For example:
- Vitamin D in milk helps your bones.
- Vitamin A in carrots helps you see at night.
- Vitamin C in oranges helps your body heal if you get a cut.
- B vitamins in whole grains help your body make energy from food.
Vitamins Hang Out in Water and Fat
There are two types of vitamins: fat soluble and water soluble.
When you eat foods that contain fat-soluble vitamins, the vitamins are stored in the fat tissues in your body and in your liver. They wait around in your body fat until your body needs them.
Fat-soluble vitamins are happy to stay stored in your body for a while — some stay for a few days, some for up to 6 months! Then, when it’s time for them to be used, special carriers in your body take them to where they’re needed. Vitamins A, D, E, and K are all fat-soluble vitamins.
Water-soluble vitamins are different. When you eat foods that have water-soluble vitamins, the vitamins don’t get stored as much in your body. Instead, they travel through your bloodstream. Whatever your body doesn’t use comes out when you urinate (pee).
So these kinds of vitamins need to be replaced often because they don’t stick around! This crowd of vitamins includes vitamin C and the big group of B vitamins — B1 (thiamin), B2 (riboflavin), niacin, B6 (pyridoxine), folic acid, B12 (cobalamin), biotin, and pantothenic acid.