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One of a number of chemically unrelated organic compounds that is necessary in small quantities for the normal functioning of the body. Many act as coenzymes, small molecules that enable enzymes to function effectively.
Most can"t be synthesised in the body, and so have to be ingested in foods such as vegetables, fruit juices and fish oils.
The amount of vitamins and minerals retained in our food is affected by the way it's stored, prepared and cooked. For example, vitamin C and the B group of vitamins are water-soluble, so the benefits they provide is significantly reduced if they are boiled or left to soak; and vitamin B2 (Riboflavin), which is found in milk, is destroyed by sunlight. See 'Fruit and Vegetables, Portions'; 'Minerals'; 'Vitamin A', 'Vitamin B Complex', 'Vitamin B1', Vitamin B2','Vitamin B3', 'VitaminB5', 'Vitamin B6', 'VitaminB12', 'VitaminB15', 'Vitamin C', 'Vitamin D', 'Vitamin E', 'Vitamin K', 'Vitamin P', 'Vitamin Supplements'