Introduction to vitamins and minerals | Biology foundations | High school biology | Khan Academy

– [Instructor] We’ve been
told throughout out lives to eat certain foods because
they contain vitamins or sometimes people might
say they also contain some minerals that you need, and so the obvious question
is, well what are vitamins? And what are these minerals
that folks are talking about? Well the big picture idea is,
that there’s certain things that your body needs and
we’ll talk in a second about why your body needs these things, but also, there are things
that your body needs and your body does not produce them. Body does not produce. There’s a lot of things
your body needs that your body is capable of producing
but there’s certain things that it needs that it
cannot produce itself. Now if these things that they need, that the body needs and it cannot produce, if they are organic, and organic is just a very fancy way of saying if there are compounds that involve carbons in them, and most molecules in life
involve a lot of carbons, that’s why they’re
called organic molecules. There’s a whole field of chemistry, of organic chemistry which
is studying the chemistry of life for the most part. If these molecules, if these
things that the body needs that it does not produce,
itself are organic, we call these things vitamins. And some of the common vitamins
that you’ll hear people talk about are things
like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin E, Vitamin K, Vitamin
C, and you can further divide these vitamins based on
whether they are soluble in fat or not. So, for example, Vitamins A, D, E and K, and this is by no means an
exhaustive list of vitamins, these are fat soluble. What does that mean? Well, to be soluble means you could be dissolved in that thing. So it can be dissolved in fat. And Vitamin C is water soluble. Now the reason why this
might be relevant for you, living as an individual,
trying to keep your health in good shape, is that you do
need all of these vitamins, and we’ll talk in a little
bit about why you need them, but fat soluble vitamins,
they’re actually easier to overdose on, because
they’re soluble in fat, they can stay in your system a lot longer, while water soluble vitamins are easier to flush out of your system. Now, with that out of the
way, let’s think about some of these common foods you might see, and some of the vitamins
that they are known for. For example, right over
here you have carrots, and you might have had people tell you, “Hey, eat carrots. “It’s good for your eyes.” And that is true, but the reason why it’s good for your eyes, is that carrots contain
something known as betacarotene, and the carotene part of
betacarotene is not a coincidence. It literally comes from Latin for carrot, and carotenes are these pigment molecules. It gives the carrot this
orange color right over here, and betacarotene, once
it’s consumed by your body, it’s a precursor for Vitamin A, which is essential for your eyes and many, many other things in your body. And a precursor’s just a
very fancy way of saying that if you consume
betacarotene, you’re body can turn it into the Vitamin A that it needs. Oranges, famous for
Vitamin C, and this isn’t an exhaustive list of things
that these foods contain, but this is some of the things
that they’re most famous for, and Vitamin C as we talked about
is a water soluble vitamin. It’s very valuable for immune system, and in a situation where
you have a severe deficiency of Vitamin C, you could get
a disease known as scurvy. And scurvy is not too common
anymore, but several hundred years ago, sailors would
often get scurvy because they had very limited diets. They did not get fruits and vegetables, and because of that Vitamin C deficiency, their collagen, their connective
tissue would break down. So it was a very horrible
and painful disease. But what if there’s
something your body needs that it does not produce
that is not organic? Well those are the things
that we call minerals. And, of course, the term
minerals, it’s also used in a geological sense, but
if were talking in terms of biology, that’s what we mean. And most of the typical
minerals are really elements that you will see on the periodic table. They will be things like phosphorous, and I’m just gonna write
their element symbol. Phosphorous, calcium,
potassium, magnesium, iron, and again, this is not an exhaustive list, but these are all essential for your body. As we go further in our study of biology, you will see how phosphorous is useful in molecules like ATP, the energy store. It’s even in the backbone of DNA and RNA. We’ll see how calcium is
useful, not just for your bones, but even for things like
muscle contractions. To send signals down
neurons, you’re going to need your potassium and also sodium. Magnesium, also important
for muscle contraction. Iron, this is in your
hemoglobin, bonds to the oxygen, allows you to transport
oxygen in your bloodstream and red blood cells. So these are all very valuable. And a lot of those foods
that we just talked about that contain vitamins,
they’ll also contain minerals. For example, not only do
carrots contain betacarotene, they also contain potassium,
which we mentioned is essential for things
like nerve function. Things like milk, it has
vitamins, like Vitamin D, but it also has minerals like calcium, which we talked about as
essential for your bones and for muscle function. And so the big picture here is, is that vitamins and
minerals are both things that your body needs, that
it does not produce itself, and we’re going to see them
over and over again in biology. So keep a lookout for them. The vitamins as we go further
in our study of biology, we’re going to see them as co-enzymes, things that help facilitate
functions of the cell, help facilitate reactions and the minerals you’re going to see in
everything from the powerhouse of the cell, the backbone of DNA, you’re going to see it
in muscle contraction and how bones are formed. You’re gonna see it in hemoglobin. You’re gonna see it in nerve function.

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16 thoughts on “Introduction to vitamins and minerals | Biology foundations | High school biology | Khan Academy

  1. 0:45 "organic is just a very fancy way of saying if there are compounds that involve carbons in them"

    CO2 is a compound that contains carbon and it's considered inorganic

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