Molecular Expressions: The Vitamin Collection
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The term vitamin derives from experiments conducted early in this century, which indicated that proper nutrition was dependent upon introduction of one or several vital nitrogen-containing amines into the diet.

Vitamins are organic molecules (not necessarily amines) that are essential to metabolism in all living organisms. While these molecules serve essentially the same role in all forms of life, higher organisms have lost the ability to synthesize vitamins. There are two major groups of vitamins: the fat-soluble vitamins designated by the letters A, D, E, and K, and the water-soluble vitamins, which are referred to as the vitamin B complex. Most vitamins are converted in vivo into coenzymes that work with metabolic enzymes to complete their biochemical functions. A lack of proper amounts of vitamins in the diet leads to a host of vitamin-deficiency diseases.

The Molecular Expressions Vitamins Collection contains all of the known vitamins and many biochemicals that were once thought and claimed to be vitamins. We have recrystallized and photographed these biochemicals under the microscope, and members of the collection presented below.

The vitamin links lead to progressive JPEG images of vitamins and their derivatives and precursors that range in size from about 35 Kb up to about 85 Kb.


Adenine (Vitamin B-4) - Purine that is definitely not a vitamin.

Amygdalin (Vitamin B-17, Laetrile) - Anticancer agent and vitamin--not!

Anthranilic Acid (Vitamin L) - A factor originally thought to be important for lactation.

Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) - One of the most ubiquitous vitamins ever discovered.

Beta-Carotene (Vitamin A precursor) - Yellow pigment that forms vitamin A.

Biotin (Vitamin H) - Carbon dioxide carrier that builds fats.

Cholecalciferol (Vitamin D) - The vitamin made from rich sunlight.

Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12) - A vitamin that treats pernicious anemia.

Folic Acid (Folate, Vitamin B-9) - A vitamin that helps fetus development during pregnancy.

Inositol (Myo-Inositol) - A useful sugar once thought to be a!vitamin.

Menadione (Vitamin K) - A fat-soluble vitamin that helps to clot blood.

Niacin (Nicotinamide, Vitamin B-3) - A pyridine important in nucleic acid metabolism.

PABA (Para-aminobenzoic acid, Vitamin B-x) - Bacterial vitamin that serves as a sunscreen.

Pangamic Acid (Vitamin B15) - The non-vitamin "vitamin" that cures everything.

Pantothenic Acid (Pantothenate, Vitamin B-5) - Important for normal growth.

Pyridoxine (Pyridoxal phosphate, Vitamin B-6) - A very versatile coenzyme.

Retinol (Vitamin A) - The first vitamin to be discovered.

Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2) - The vitamin that gives urine its yellow color.

Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) - A sure cure for Beriberi.

Alpha-Tocopherol (vitamin E) - What some people call the "love" vitamin is really a free radical scavenger.

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