What You Need to Know About Vitamins

“Vitamins are healthy” – so far, so good. But did you also know that vitamins are not only important, they are also vital? That they don’t like stress and that they run away when there is too much light and heat? Then it’s time for a little tutoring

What are vitamins actually?

Vitamins are small power packs that, unlike carbohydrates, proteins, and fat, have no nutritional value. That means: For example, they do not provide any calories and therefore no energy. Then why are they so important to us? Quite simply: Our body needs vitamins for important metabolic functions. The only problem: apart from vitamin D, we cannot produce vitamins ourselves and have to take them in with our food. That is why vitamins are also called “essential”, i.e. vital. This also explains the name vitamins – because “Vita” stands for “life”. But mostly there is no such thing as “one” vitamin A, C, or D because a vitamin is rarely a very specific, individual substance. Usually, it is a group of substances with similar properties. Which are then collectively referred to as “Vitamin XY”.

That is why you should eat a rainbow every week

However, some foods only contain vitamin precursors (provitamins), which the body then has to activate or convert into the corresponding vitamin. This includes, for example, beta-carotene, a plant pigment from carrots, and the like, which we can convert into vitamin A if necessary.

What vitamins are there and what does the body need them for?

The body cannot store water-soluble vitamins (or only very little of them). A positive side effect: An “overdose of vitamin C”, for example, cannot harm you. As the excess is simply excreted in the urine.

In the following overview, we give a brief overview of the vitamin groups and a little insight into what the body needs which vitamin. Behind the vitamins, there are further links to the individual vitamins. Which provides you with important information on function. Daily requirement, deficiency symptoms & Co:

Fat-soluble vitamins



Daily requirement (women, 15 to 65 years) according to DGE *

Vitamin A

needed for growth, protects skin, eyes, and mucous membranes

0.8 micrograms RÄ ** – covered by 1 medium-sized carrot

Vitamin D

important for calcium and phosphate absorption (bone metabolism), nerves, and immune system

20 micrograms (vitamin D experts recommend significantly more) – covered by 1 serving (150 grams) of salmon

Vitamin E.

has anti-inflammatory effects, strengthens the immune system, regulates the hormonal balance

12 milligrams – covered by 1 handful of hazelnuts

Vitamin K

forms blood clotting factors, important for digestion

60 to 65 micrograms – covered with 100 grams of lettuce

Water-soluble vitamins



Daily requirement (women, 15 to 65 years) according to DGE *

Vitamin B1

Important for the nervous system and the energy metabolism

1 milligram – covered with 100 grams of pork

Vitamin B2  

is required for the utilization of fats, carbohydrates, and amino acids

1.2 milligrams – covered with 300 grams of low-fat quark + 1 handful of almonds

Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5):

important for neurotransmitter synthesis and a strong immune system

6 milligrams – covered with 100 grams of offal (liver)

Vitamin B6

Protein digestion, detoxification, and formation of messenger substances

1.2 milligrams – covered by 1 handful of pistachios

Folic acid (folate, vitamin B9):

important for cell division, important for healthy mucous membranes, and functioning protein metabolism

300 micrograms FÄ *** – covered by 1 serving (200 g) of spinach leaves

Vitamin B12

regenerates nerve cells, blood, and mucous membranes

3 micrograms – covered by 100 grams of trout

vitamin C

100 milligrams – covered by 1 grapefruit

Biotin (vitamin H) :

important for the formation of skin and hair, blood clotting, detoxification, and metabolism

30 to 60 micrograms – covered by 200 grams of mushrooms

  • German Nutrition Society

** Retinol equivalent: Combines retinol from animal foods and carotenoids from plant foods

*** Folate equivalent: Calculated from the sum of folate-effective compounds in normal food (folate equivalents).

Read Also: What Is the Ideal Weight?

How can you prevent a vitamin deficiency?

By taking precautions: Many factors favor a deficiency. Such as an overly one-sided diet (ready-made products, etc.), gastrointestinal diseases, certain medications, or alcohol abuse. Medical journalist and vitamin specialist Andreas Jopp adds: “The daily dose recommended by the DGE is only to be regarded as a” minimum amount “. Anyone who consumes this minimum amount prevents deficiency symptoms in any case. It is only the” minimum “- the” optimum “, to which our Stone Age metabolism is adjusted, is of course higher. ” In addition, the more unhealthy you eat, the greater the supply gap that needs to be filled.

In addition, vitamins are quite “stress-prone” and are easily destroyed. So there are a few things to consider when dealing with them:

  • Buy seasonal, regional fruits and vegetables. They have not had long transport routes or storage.
  • Do not stock up on fruits and vegetables generously. Due to the long (and perhaps incorrect) storage at home. The vitamins can quickly be lost. For longer-term supplies, you should use frozen products. They are shock-frozen immediately after harvesting and thus retain most of the ingredients.
  • Store fruits and vegetables away from the sun and heat. Water-rich vegetables such as peppers, cucumber, or tomatoes are also sensitive to cold and should be stored well packaged in a cool place. Low-water vegetables such as carrots, broccoli, or cauliflower can survive in the refrigerator for a few days. Leaf salads should generally only be stored for a short time and eaten quickly.
  • If possible, wash fruit and vegetables whole and with the skin so that the ingredients (for example, apple wedges that have been cut into small pieces) are not washed out.
  • Don’t cook vegetables to death: it’s better to briefly blanch them, steam them or stew them
  • Use the cooking water (for example from broccoli) to prepare the sauce instead of throwing it away. A lot of washed-out vitamins can be found here.
  • Vitamins “hate” keeping food warm for a long time and repeatedly reheating it.

When should I use vitamin supplements?

In general, do not swallow dozens of individual preparations or vitamins. “In most cases, you are well supplied with a good multivitamin preparation,” advises vitamin expert and bestselling author Andreas Jopp. “Exceptions are folic acid and vitamin D. The vitamin deficiency in the population is so high that it is worth taking them as a single vitamin. Even if you do not want to take any other vitamins in addition.”

And: Although it always means “ask your doctor or pharmacist”, expert Jopp recommends going to the pharmacist, or a non-medical practitioner, or a nutritionist. “Doctors can usually not really help you in matters of nutrition. Because you are in much better hands with a non-medical practitioner.”


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