Vitamins and minerals are nutrients your body needs in small amounts to work properly and stay healthy. They were discovered because of deficiency diseases—things like scurvy, which is a deficiency of vitamin C, or rickets with D. Or beriberi, which none of us know about now, which was horrible—that’s vitamin B1. And pellagra, which is niacin B3. So they were discovered through this process of recognizing the idea of a deficiency disease.
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Vitamins can be separated into two groups; water soluble vitamins (Vitamin C, B Vitamins) and fat soluble vitamins (Vitamins A, D, E, K). Water soluble vitamins are needed in regular small amounts and are unlikely to reach toxic levels in the blood as they are excreted in urine.
D is a biggie, Kirkpatrick says, especially after 40, because it helps protect against the age-related changes that start to kick in. Vitamin D deficiencies have been linked to diabetes, heart disease, multiple sclerosis, and breast and colorectal cancers—all of which are more likely to crop up the older you get.
In a study sponsored by the National Eye Institute, as an Age-Related Eye Disease Study, people at high risk for the disease who took a daily multiple vitamin that included vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc and copper, had a 25 percent reduced risk of advanced macular degeneration during a six-year period.