Vitamins, by their definition, are essential to health and have to be obtained from the diet on a regular basis because, with the exception of vitamin D, they cannot be produced by the body. In terms of medicine and nutrition, our knowledge of vitamins is relatively recent. Although James Lind discovered an association between limejuice and scurvy in 1753, it was over 170 years later that vitamin C was eventually isolated. The understanding of vitamin Bj2 goes back only to the 1950s and new roles for folates were still being discovered in the late 1990s. Man's supply of vitamins is obtained from a varied diet of vegetables, cereals, fruits and meats and the quantities of vitamins that are present in the dietary sources can be affected significantly by the processing and storage of the food.

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