vitamins


Complex organic compounds that are needed in small amounts by the body for normal growth and metabolism. An important part of a balanced diet, vitamins occur naturally in foods and may be added to processed foods to increase their nutritional value. Many vitamins have been identified, and each plays a specific role in the functioning of the body. For example, vitamin C is needed for the proper healing of wounds and broken bones; vitamin A helps the body resist infection. Some vitamins are so important that without them certain diseases or conditions could develop. For example, a deficiency of vitamin D may cause rickets, and a deficiency of vitamin B12 could result in a form of anemia.

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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