Multivitamins are combinations of vitamins generally found in food, to help meet your nutritional needs.. According to Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine, your body needs 13 vitamins to grow and develop normally. These are vitamins A, C, D, E, K and eight B vitamins, or B complex. You generally get enough vitamins through what you eat, but may need to take a multivitamin if your diet is lacking in certain foods.
Vitamin A is an antioxidant whose primary role is to protect cells from the damage of free radicals, unstable, unpaired molecules that can damage cells and DNA as they voraciously seek to pair up. Vitamin A also plays an important role in proper vision, bone growth, reproduction, cell function and immune system.
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is important to promoting healthy bones, skin and connective tissues. It also promotes healing because it is needed in the formation of collagen, a protein your tissues and skin are made of. It is also needed to absorb iron, a mineral needed for the formation of healthy red blood cells.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium, a mineral needed for proper bone growth. You can get vitamin D through your diet, but your body also makes vitamin D as a result of sun exposure. When UV rays penetrate your skin, the liver is trigger to synthesize vitamin D. Vitamin D also helps promote proper nerve, muscle and immune system function.
Vitamin E helps prevent the destruction of vitamins A and C and also acts as an antioxidant together with vitamins A and and C to prevent cellular damage. It also plays a role in immune function and metabolism.
Vitamin K helps your body make proteins needed for healthy bones and tissues and makes proteins for blood clotting. For this reason, a lack of vitamin K can cause excess bleeding. Newborns have very little vitamin K and receive a vitamin K shot shortly after birth.
The B vitamins are thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, cobalamin and folic acid. They work together to help your body produce energy from food. They also help make red blood cells, which carry oxygen and nutrients throughout your body. B vitamins are also needed for proper DNA and RNA formation.