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Vitamins - building blocks of life.


Vitamins are vital substances that the organism needs to maintain metabolic and bodily functions. They are normally supplied to the body with food, preferably with a varied mixed diet.

The importance of vitamins for the health and well-being of humans has been impressively confirmed by the results of vitamin research in recent years.

The food supplement with water-soluble vitamins can be useful up to three times the reference values for nutrient intake, especially for seniors, pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers, top athletes, heavy smokers and persons with high alcohol consumption or strictly reduced food intake.* This also applies to people who, for various reasons, eat one-sidedly or insufficiently.

Due to new findings, the recommendation for vitamin intake has been partially amended. For example, the values for vitamin C in adult men have been increased to 110 mg, for adult women to 95 mg and for folic acid to 300 μg per day.

Comparative studies have shown that the supply of the important folic acid in Germany is not sufficient. Therefore particularly women, who want to become pregnant, are recommended to supplement their food with daily 400 μg folic acid.

In short, vitamins contribute to supporting or maintaining many normal functions of the human organism.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A belongs to the group of fat-soluble vitamins. The collective term vitamin A refers to all synthetic and natural substances with vitamin A-like biological activity.

Vitamin A in preformed forms is found exclusively in animal foods such as liver, eggs and dairy products. In addition, vitamin A is present in the form of provitamins in various plant foods such as yellow and green vegetables and in many fruits.

Vitamin A is essential for embryonic development, body growth, visual function, cell differentiation of the endothelium, the skin as well as the bones and mucous membranes. In addition, it has important physiological functions in the immune system.

Vitamin A deficiency is relatively rare in industrialized countries. There are exceptions for people who consume a lot of cigarettes and alcohol, but at the same time have an insufficient supply of vitamin A (provitamin A) via food or a one-sided vegetarian diet.

However, an increased need can occur due to the long-term administration of certain drugs, during pregnancy and lactation, in infectious diseases such as measles and chickenpox, in diseases of the liver, intestines and pancreas, and in zinc deficiency.

A vitamin A deficiency can manifest itself in the following symptoms, among others:

  • Impairment of vision, especially through night blindness
  • Dehydration of the skin with formation of wrinkles and dandruff
  • Premature graying of the hair

Vitamins of the B group

The vitamins of the B-group belong to the water-soluble vitamins. They are found mainly in cereal germs, legumes, muscle meat and offal. They are only stored in small amounts and excreted relatively quickly by the kidneys. An increased need for B vitamins, as can occur in members of the risk groups, must therefore be covered by an increased intake. An intake of up to three times the reference values (DGE; Ernährungsumschau 47 (2000) Issue 9) can be useful.

Due to the various interactions between the B vitamins, it makes sense to substitute the entire vitamin B complex, as there is often a combined deficiency condition.

B vitamins have a central function in the human metabolism. For example, they are involved in carbohydrate and protein metabolism, blood formation and the functions of the brain and nervous system.

The causes of a vitamin B deficiency can be manifold. One-sided or inadequate nutrition (strict reduction diet) can also lead to vitamin B deficiency, as can chronic alcohol consumption or the intake of certain drugs.

A vitamin B deficiency can manifest itself in the following symptoms, among others:

  • Limited mental and physical capacity
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Central and peripheral nervous system disorders
  • Change of the skin and mucous membranes

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is widespread in plant and animal products. The content is particularly high in fresh fruit and vegetables.

Ascorbic acid is the most important antioxidant in the extracellular fluid space. It is a strong reducing agent which is able to eliminate free oxygen radicals and thus protects against oxidative stress. In addition, vitamin C is a natural regenerator for vitamin E.

Vitamin C has various functions in the organism. It is indispensable for the formation of collagen, activates the immune system, improves iron absorption and can lower elevated cholesterol, triglyceride and lipoprotein levels.

Vitamin C deficiency can be caused by changes in eating habits. Slimming diets, extreme reduction diets or insufficient food intake can also lead to a deficiency in industrialised countries. In addition, various medicines, chronic alcohol consumption and smoking can worsen vitamin C status.

A vitamin C deficiency can be manifested by the following symptoms among others:

  • Changes in skin and mucous membranes
  • Fatigue and fatigue states
  • Weakness
  • Muscle pain
  • Badly healing wounds
  • Increased susceptibility to infections

Vitamin D

Among the vitamins, Vitamin D has a special position, since the human organism can form it itself under the influence of UV light. Vitamin D is found mainly in fatty fish, cod liver oil and egg yolk.

Vitamin D has an important physiological meaning for the calcium metabolism as well as for the normal growth and the differentiation of the skin cells. In addition, vitamin D influences endocrine glands, immune modulation and carcinogenesis.

Due to the ability of self-synthesis and the generally sufficient supply of vitamin D, a pronounced deficiency rarely occurs in industrialized countries. This could be caused by certain drugs, fat absorption disorders or a purely vegetarian diet with simultaneous low exposure to sunlight.

Infants are given prophylactic vitamin D to reduce the risk of rickets. In seniors, however, there is a deficiency symptom in the dark season at about 30%.

A vitamin D deficiency can be manifested by the following symptoms, among others:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Increased susceptibility to infections
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is the collective term for the group of tocopherols and tocotrienols. Hardly any other vitamin has been so intensively researched in recent years as this vitamin. Studies have shown that vitamin E can help protect cells from oxidative stress.

An example:

smoking, environmental pollution such as exhaust gases, UV light or increased ozone levels lead to the formation of so-called free radicals. These highly reactive compounds can stress our organism. Therefore, it is important to ensure an adequate supply of antioxidants, such as vitamin E.

Vegetable oils and nuts are good sources of vitamin E, for example. If these Vitamin E-containing food should be missing in the menu a food addition with Vitamin E is surely a good recommendation.

A vitamin E deficiency can be manifested by the following symptoms, among others:

  • Neurological disorders
  • Muscle weakness
  • Infertility
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Trace elements - building blocks of life.


Trace elements

Trace elements belong to the mineral substances and are vital inorganic nutrients which the organism cannot produce itself; they must be supplied with food. Trace elements or microelements appear in the body in low concentrations, but leave a large gap if they are absent.


Zinc is usually supplied to the organism via foods such as meat, dairy products and fish (especially shellfish). Since the human body does not have a large zinc reservoir, which it could mobilize in case of a deficiency, a continuous supply of zinc is necessary.

A number of scientific studies of the last years prove the various, health-promoting characteristics of zinc.

Zinc, for example, supports normal cognitive function and fertility. Zinc contributes to the maintenance of normal bone, skin, hair, nails and vision. Zinc can also make a valuable contribution to supporting the normal immune system.

A zinc deficiency can be manifested by the following symptoms among others:

  • Changes in skin and nails
  • Hair Loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Decrease in key sensation and loss of appetite
  • Powerlessness
  • Fatigue


Selenium is an important trace element and is normally absorbed through the daily diet. The main sources of selenium are meat, fish, chicken eggs, pulses and cereals.

Selenium contributes to the preservation of normal hair and nails. It supports normal sperm production and the normal functioning of the immune system. Selenium also helps to protect the cells from oxidative stress.

A selenium deficiency can be manifested by the following symptoms among others:

  • Nail changes
  • Dandruff skin
  • Muscle and immune deficiency
(*) Source: "Ernährungs-Umschau 47" (2000) Issue 9
(**) Source: DGE press release 07/2013, German Society for Nutrition e.V.