Need an answer for my son -Reply

Nick Greatorex-Davies NGD at WPO.NERC.AC.UK
Thu Dec 11 04:10:11 EST 1997


I passed your question on to a colleague of mine (Alistair Dawson), his
reply is below. Hope the rest of the list don't mind me sending the reply
out to all, but LEPS-L seems pretty quite at the moment and I am sure that
his answer will interest many. It is certainly a question I have pondered
on more than one occasion.

Nick Greatorex-Davies
ITE Monks Wood

"The answer is quite simple - vitamins are not proteins. They are all
vitamins because they are vital in the diet, but they do not share any
common chemistry. Some are simple small molecules, others are steroid
like and some are fatty acids. These are all molecules that can pass from
the gut to the bloodstream without degradation. Most act as, or are
metabilised into other chemicals that act as, co-factors in a variety of
essential enzymic reactions. Because these co-factors are often
available in sufficient amounts in the diet, many organisms have lost the
ability to synthesise them themselves, and so they became vitamins.
What is a vitamin to one animal may not be to another because the latter
may have retained the ability to synthesise it. More primitive life forms will
have no vitamin requirements, but omnivorous animals have many.

Original question:

>>> "Paul M. Sammut" <pasammut at DREAM.VOL.NET.MT>
10/December/1997 04:44pm >>>
Hi Friend of the Net,

	Excuse my posting this query to this newsgroup, to which I also
However I am sure out there somebody will help me out with this

Question which my son put to me:  

Are vitamins, which are proteins, digested in the alimentary with the
rest of the food? If yes, then all the vitamins we take in are destroyed
before they can be utilised by the body. What actually happens to the
vitamins in food during digestion?

Beleive me I could not come up with a convincing answer. Please be kind
and helpful. Regards to all, Paul.

Paul Sammut

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