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Vitamins

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Summary

Vitamins are substances that your body needs to grow and develop normally. There are 13 vitamins your body needs. They are:

You can usually get all your vitamins from the foods you eat. Your body can also make vitamins D and K. People who eat a vegetarian diet may need to take a vitamin B12 supplement.

Each vitamin has specific jobs. If you have low levels of certain vitamins, you may get health problems. For example, if you don't get enough vitamin C, you could become anemic. Some vitamins may help prevent medical problems. Vitamin A prevents night blindness.

The best way to get enough vitamins is to eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods. In some cases, you may need to take vitamin supplements. It's a good idea to ask your health care provider first. High doses of some vitamins can cause problems.

Start Here

  • Dietary Supplement Label Database (DSLD) From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements)
  • Vitamin and Mineral Supplement Fact Sheets From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements)
  • Vitamins and Minerals: How to Get What You Need (American Academy of Family Physicians) Also in Spanish

Related Issues

  • 5 Top Foods for Eye Health (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
  • Can Vitamins Help Prevent a Heart Attack? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Vitamin Deficiency Anemia (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Vitamin, Mineral, and Multivitamin Supplements for the Primary Prevention of Cardiovascular Disease and Cancer (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) - PDF

Clinical Trials

  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Micronutrients From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • ClinicalTrials.gov: Vitamins From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

  • Article: Effect of vitamin and mineral supplementation on nutritional status in children...
  • Article: Post-Diagnosis Vitamin D Supplement Use and Survival among Cancer Patients: A...
  • Article: Update on the management of vitamins and minerals in cystic fibrosis.
  • Vitamins -- see more articles

Reference Desk

Find an Expert

  • Find a Nutrition Expert (Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics)
  • Food and Drug Administration
  • Food and Nutrition Information Center
  • National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • Vitamins (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish

Teenagers

  • Vitamins and Minerals (Nemours Foundation) Also in Spanish

Women

  • Prenatal Vitamins: OK for Women Who Aren't Pregnant? (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish
  • Prenatal Vitamins: Why They Matter, How to Choose (Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research) Also in Spanish

Patient Handouts

The information on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Contact a health care provider if you have questions about your health.

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