General English


  • noun a substance not produced in the body, but found in most foods, and needed for good health


  • A naturally occurring substance required by the human body for optimum health usually in small milligram quantities but sometimes gram quantities may be beneficial. Complete lack of any vitamin usually causes disease or birth defects in foetuses. Recommended daily amounts (RDAs) avoid these diseases but some advocate taking greater amounts especially of antioxidants. All vitamins are listed under either alphabetical names such as vitamin A, B, C, etc., or under chemical names such as bioflavonoids, biotin, choline, folic acid, inositol, lipoic acid, orotic acid, PABA. Whether all the chemical names listed are true vitamins is constantly being reassessed and new vitamins are discovered at intervals.


  • noun an essential substance not synthesised in the body, but found in most foods, and needed for good health


  • noun any of various substances that are not synthesised in the body but are found in most foods, essential for good health

Origin & History of “vitamin”

Vitamins were originally vitamines: the polish-born biochemist Casimir Funk who introduced them to the world in 1920 believed that they were amino acids and so formed the name from Latin vita ‘life’ and amine. It was soon discovered that Funk’s belief was mistaken, and alternative names were suggested, but in 1920 it was successfully proposed (by J.C. Drummond) that the -e be dropped to avoid confusion, and the form vitamin was born.