Vitamins - how did they get their names?

Vitamins - how did they get their names?

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There are several types of vitamins. A,B,C,D,E,H,K,P, etc. How did they get their names?

They were more or less named in the order that they were found. Letters F-J are skipped because many of those were reclassified or later found not to be vitamins. The K comes from the German word for Koagulation because the vitamin is involved in the coagulation of blood.

The discovery dates of the vitamins and their sources / Year of discovery /Vitamin Food source

  • 1913 Vitamin A (Retinol) Cod liver oil
  • 1910 Vitamin B1 (Thiamine) Rice bran
  • 1920 Vitamin C (Ascorbic acid) Citrus, most fresh foods
  • 1920 Vitamin D (Calciferol) Cod liver oil
  • 1920 Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) Meat, dairy products, eggs
  • 1922 Vitamin E (Tocopherol) Wheat germ oil, unrefined vegetable oils
  • 1929 Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone) Leaf vegetables
  • 1931 Vitamin B5 (Pantothenic acid) Meat, whole grains, in many foods
  • 1931 Vitamin B7 (Biotin) Meat, dairy products, eggs
  • 1934 Vitamin B6 (Pyridoxine) Meat, dairy products
  • 1936 Vitamin B3 (Niacin) Meat, grains
  • 1941 Vitamin B9 (Folic acid) Leaf vegetables
  • 1948[42] Vitamin B12 (Cobalamins) Liver, eggs, animal products

There are many different B vitamins, water soluble, because many vitamins previously given different letters where later found to be part of the B complex. For example H is now B7. Additionally, many letters, such as P, are no longer classified as vitamins.

More information can be found on this Wikipedia page.

1 * Vitamin A: Name: Retinol. It was discovered in 1909 Function: Carotene compound responsible for transferring light to the retina. The most common sources: whale liver oil, meat, eggs, liver, kidney, cheese. Diseases resulting from deficiency: lack of it leads to night blindness.

2 * Vitamin C: Name: Ascorbic acid. It was discovered in 1912. Function: Important in the synthesis of collagen, the protein component of the body's tissue frame. The most common sources: fruits, vegetables, oranges, lemons. Diseases associated with deficiency: Lack of it leads to scurvy (weakness of the capillaries), which is characterized by the presence of fragile capillaries, poor healing wounds, and deformity in children.

3 * Vitamin B1 B1: Name: Thiamine. It was discovered in 1912. Function: Acts as a catalyst in the metabolic process of the body. The most common sources are: whole grains, rice, legumes, wheat germ. Diseases resulting from deficiency: the most important disease Berri, a disease of the nervous system and heart.

4 * Vitamin D: Name: A group of vehicles with multiple names. It was discovered in 1918. Function: It is with calcium helps to promote bone health. The most common sources: sunlight promotes the manufacture of sufficient amount of vitamin D in the skin. Deficient diseases: Deficiency can lead to osteoporosis in adults and bone rickets in children.

5 * Vitamin B2 B2: Name: riboflavin. It was discovered in 1920. Function: As a catalyst for enzymes that stimulate chemical reactions in the body. The most common sources: dairy products, eggs, green leafy vegetables. Diseases resulting from deficiency: Lack of inflammation causes inflammation of the lining of the mouth and skin.

6 * Vitamin E (E): Name: A group of vehicles with multiple names. It was discovered in 1922. Function: Antioxidants, protect the body cells from destruction. The most common sources: spinach, broccoli, wheat germ. Diseases associated with deficiency: deficiency can lead to anemia.

7 * Vitamin B12 B12: Name: Cobalamin. It was discovered in 1926. Function: One of the fundamental factors in the synthesis of DNA (genetic material of cells). The most common sources: meat, fish, eggs, dairy products. Diseases related to deficiency: deficiency leads to anemia (anemia), also called sober anemia.

8 * Vitamin (K K): Name: Generally known as vitamin clotting, it includes a group of compounds with multiple names. It was discovered in 1929. Function: A key factor in the formation of coagulation factors. The most common sources: spinach, leafy vegetables, broccoli, cabbage, fish, liver, meat, eggs. Diseases associated with deficiency: lack of it can lead to abnormal bleeding.

9 * Vitamin B5 B5: Name: Bentothenic acid. It was discovered in 1931. Function: Incorporates some important compounds that help to decompose fatty acids and manufacture cholesterol in the body. It is used in natural medicine as an alternative to creatinine, and its presence is required for healthy and natural growth of hair. Most common sources: Most foods especially in legumes, vegetables, eggs, red meat, whole grains, and royal jelly. Diseases resulting from deficiency: burning foot syndrome, allergies, adrenal insufficiency, adison disease, and rheumatoid joints.

10 * Vitamin (H or B7): Name: Biotin. It was discovered in 1931. Function: It is necessary for the manufacture of insulin, antibodies, and some enzymes, and helps in metabolism. The most common sources: Available in almost all natural foods, found in liver and yeast. Diseases resulting from deficiency: deficiency is often the result of defects in its use (feeding on white eggs), not the lack of food because it is made by intestinal bacteria. The lack of biotin is rare because a large quantity of it is reused several times before being taken out in urine. Symptoms of the deficiency are on the body of skin peeling, hair loss, loss of appetite, nerve fiber damage.

11 * Vitamin B6 B6: Name: pyridoxine. It was discovered in 1934. Function: A catalyst for enzymes. The most common sources: whole grains, vegetables, liver, beans, fish. Diseases resulting from deficiency: lack of it leads to inflammation of the skin and mouth, nausea, vomiting, weakness, dizziness and anemia.

12 * Vitamin B3 B3: Name: Niacin. It was discovered in 1936. Function: plays an essential role in the enzymes involved in the metabolism of the body. The most common sources: dairy products, eggs, fish, legumes. Diseases resulting from deficiency: Lack of inflammation causes inflammation of the skin, rectum, vagina and mouth, as well as delayed mental development.

13 * Vitamin B9 B9: Name: Folic acid. It was discovered in 1941. Function: It is an important factor in the synthesis of DNA (genetic material of cells). The most common sources: leafy vegetables, fruits, dried legumes, peas. Diseases associated with deficiency: Folic acid deficiency leads to anemia (megaloblastic anemia). Vitamins are divided into two parts:

  • Vitamins that dissolve in the water is vitamin C and B complex (C, B complex).

  • Fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, K (A, D, E and K).

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the tissues of the body. Vitamins that dissolve in water (except vitamin B12) can not be stored in the body, and should therefore be constantly replenished.
After discovering vitamin A, vitamin B was detected and thought to be just one vitamin, but later it was discovered that vitamin B is a group of vitamins that dissolve in water. To differentiate between these vitamins were added numbers of their names, and resulted in vitamins B1, B 2… Today there are 8 vitamins in group B. One of which is called B12, which indicates that several substances from this group have been eliminated that have been shown to be non-B vitamins.

Vitamins - how did they get their names? - Biology

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    Vitamins: Their Functions and Sources

    The tables below list the vitamins , what they do in the body (their functions), and their sources in food.

    Water-soluble vitamins

    Water-soluble vitamins travel freely through the body, and excess amounts usually are excreted by the kidneys. The body needs water-soluble vitamins in frequent, small doses. These vitamins are not as likely as fat-soluble vitamins to reach toxic levels. But niacin, vitamin B6, folate, choline, and vitamin C have upper consumption limits. Vitamin B6 at high levels over a long period of time has been shown to cause irreversible nerve damage.

    A balanced diet usually provides enough of these vitamins. People older than 50 and some vegetarians may need to use supplements to get enough B12.

    Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism important to nerve function

    Found in all nutritious foods in moderate amounts: pork, whole grain foods or enriched breads and cereals, legumes, nuts and seeds

    Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism important for normal vision and skin health

    Milk and milk products leafy green vegetables whole grain foods, enriched breads and cereals

    Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism important for nervous system, digestive system, and skin health

    Meat, poultry, fish, whole grain foods, enriched breads and cereals, vegetables (especially mushrooms, asparagus, and leafy green vegetables), peanut butter

    Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism

    Part of an enzyme needed for energy metabolism

    Widespread in foods also produced in intestinal tract by bacteria

    Part of an enzyme needed for protein metabolism helps make red blood cells

    Meat, fish, poultry, vegetables, fruits

    Part of an enzyme needed for making DNA and new cells, especially red blood cells

    Leafy green vegetables and legumes, seeds, orange juice, and liver now added to most refined grains

    Part of an enzyme needed for making new cells important to nerve function

    Meat, poultry, fish, seafood, eggs, milk and milk products not found in plant foods

    Antioxidant part of an enzyme needed for protein metabolism important for immune system health aids in iron absorption

    Found only in fruits and vegetables, especially citrus fruits, vegetables in the cabbage family, cantaloupe, strawberries, peppers, tomatoes, potatoes, lettuce, papayas, mangoes, kiwifruit

    Fat-soluble vitamins

    Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's cells and are not excreted as easily as water-soluble vitamins. They do not need to be consumed as often as water-soluble vitamins, although adequate amounts are needed. If you take too much of a fat-soluble vitamin, it could become toxic.

    A balanced diet usually provides enough fat-soluble vitamins. You may find it more difficult to get enough vitamin D from food alone and may consider taking a vitamin D supplement or a multivitamin with vitamin D in it. Refer to HealthLinkBC File #68e Food Sources of Calcium and Vitamin D for food source ideas and information on supplements. Talk to your health care provider about the right supplement for you.

    Vitamin A (and its precursor*, beta-carotene)

    *A precursor is converted by the body to the vitamin.

    Needed for vision, healthy skin and mucous membranes, bone and tooth growth, immune system health

    Vitamin A from animal sources (retinol): fortified milk, cheese, cream, butter, fortified margarine, eggs, liver

    Beta-carotene (from plant sources): Leafy, dark green vegetables dark orange fruits (apricots, cantaloupe) and vegetables (carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin)

    Needed for proper absorption of calcium stored in bones

    Egg yolks, liver, fatty fish, fortified milk, fortified margarine. When exposed to sunlight, the skin can make vitamin D.

    Antioxidant protects cell walls

    Polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn, cottonseed, safflower) leafy green vegetables wheat germ whole-grain products liver egg yolks nuts and seeds

    Needed for proper blood clotting

    Leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens, and spinach green vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, and asparagus also produced in intestinal tract by bacteria

    Small Intestine: Headquarters of Nutrient Absorption

    The workings of the small intestine can be complex. But its role can be simply summed up in two words: nutrient absorption. That’s because your small intestine is in charge of pulling glucose, amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals out of food to be used by the cells.

    This is accomplished by tiny projections called villi. The microscopic, brush-like lining of the small intestine acts like a comb that grabs important nutrients out of the digested food that leaves your stomach.

    Villi are great at absorbing nutrients because they increase the surface area of the inside of small intestine. With hundreds of thousands of villi lining your gut, that’s a lot of surface area for nutrient absorption.

    Each villus (a single protrusion of the villi) is composed of a meshwork of capillaries and lymphatic vessels (called lacteals) underneath an ultra-thin layer of tissue. This special structure makes it possible to pull macro- and micronutrients out of your meals and send them to the bloodstream.

    Water is also essential to this process. The small intestine uses a chemical process called diffusion to extract nutrients. Diffusion moves water and water-soluble compounds across barriers, like the villi in the small intestine. These compounds include:

    • Glucose (simple sugars)
    • Amino acids (parts of proteins)
    • Water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins and vitamin C)
    • Minerals

    Once these nutrients are diffused into the villi, it’s a straight shot to the bloodstream. That’s where these nutrients can work in cells to make proteins and create energy.

    Fats and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) require a few extra steps to enter the bloodstream.

    First, bile acids from the liver mix with fats in the small intestine. This breaks the fats down into their component fatty acids. Then, the fatty acids and other fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed by the villi into lacteals. These lymphatic vessels transport the fat-soluble compounds to the liver. That’s where they are stored and released in the body as needed.

    And there’s a lot of use for fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins. Cells use the fatty acids to build cell membranes. And vitamins A, D, E, and K are useful in the body to support the health of your eyes, brain, heart, and bones.


    Obesity is a major health concern in the United States, and there is a growing focus on reducing obesity and the diseases it may lead to, such as type-2 diabetes, cancers of the colon and breast, and cardiovascular disease. How does the food consumed contribute to obesity?

    Fatty foods are calorie-dense, meaning that they have more calories per unit mass than carbohydrates or proteins. One gram of carbohydrates has four calories, one gram of protein has four calories, and one gram of fat has nine calories. Animals tend to seek lipid-rich food for their higher energy content.

    The signals of hunger (“time to eat”) and satiety (“time to stop eating”) are controlled in the hypothalamus region of the brain. Foods that are rich in fatty acids tend to promote satiety more than foods that are rich only in carbohydrates.

    Excess carbohydrate and ATP are used by the liver to synthesize glycogen. The pyruvate produced during glycolysis is used to synthesize fatty acids. When there is more glucose in the body than required, the resulting excess pyruvate is converted into molecules that eventually result in the synthesis of fatty acids within the body. These fatty acids are stored in adipose cells—the fat cells in the mammalian body whose primary role is to store fat for later use.

    It is important to note that some animals benefit from obesity. Polar bears and seals need body fat for insulation and to keep them from losing body heat during Arctic winters. When food is scarce, stored body fat provides energy for maintaining homeostasis. Fats prevent famine in mammals, allowing them to access energy when food is not available on a daily basis fats are stored when a large kill is made or lots of food is available.

    Food Energy and ATP

    Animals use energy for metabolism, obtaining that energy from the breakdown of food through the process of cellular respiration.

    Learning Objectives

    Summarize the ways in which animals obtain, store, and use food energy

    Key Takeaways

    Key Points

    • Animals obtain energy from the food they consume, using that energy to maintain body temperature and perform other metabolic functions.
    • Glucose, found in the food animals eat, is broken down during the process of cellular respiration into an energy source called ATP.
    • When excess ATP and glucose are present, the liver converts them into a molecule called glycogen, which is stored for later use.

    Key Terms

    • glucose: a simple monosaccharide (sugar) with a molecular formula of C6H12O6 it is a principal source of energy for cellular metabolism
    • adenosine triphosphate: a multifunctional nucleoside triphosphate used in cells as a coenzyme, often called the “molecular unit of energy currency” in intracellular energy transfer
    • phosphodiester: any of many biologically active compounds in which two alcohols form ester bonds with phosphate

    Food Energy and ATP

    Animals need food to obtain energy and maintain homeostasis. Homeostasis is the ability of a system to maintain a stable internal environment even in the face of external changes to the environment. For example, the normal body temperature of humans is 37°C (98.6°F). Humans maintain this temperature even when the external temperature is hot or cold. The energy it takes to maintain this body temperature is obtained from food.

    The primary source of energy for animals is carbohydrates, primarily glucose: the body’s fuel. The digestible carbohydrates in an animal’s diet are converted to glucose molecules and into energy through a series of catabolic chemical reactions.

    Adenosine triphosphate, or ATP, is the primary energy currency in cells. ATP stores energy in phosphate ester bonds, releasing energy when the phosphodiester bonds are broken: ATP is converted to ADP and a phosphate group. ATP is produced by the oxidative reactions in the cytoplasm and mitochondrion of the cell, where carbohydrates, proteins, and fats undergo a series of metabolic reactions collectively called cellular respiration.

    ATP production pathways: ATP is the energy molecule of the cell. It is produced through various pathways during the cellular respiration process, with each making different amounts of energy.

    ATP is required for all cellular functions. It is used to build the organic molecules that are required for cells and tissues. It also provides energy for muscle contraction and for the transmission of electrical signals in the nervous system. When the amount of ATP available is in excess of the body’s requirements, the liver uses the excess ATP and excess glucose to produce molecules called glycogen (a polymeric form of glucose) that is stored in the liver and skeletal muscle cells. When blood sugar drops, the liver releases glucose from stores of glycogen. Skeletal muscle converts glycogen to glucose during intense exercise. The process of converting glucose and excess ATP to glycogen and the storage of excess energy is an evolutionarily-important step in helping animals deal with mobility, food shortages, and famine.

    Are any vitamins neither soluble in fat nor water?

    No, vitamins are categorized by their solubility, of which there are only two categories. They are fat-soluble and water-soluble. Fat-soluble vitamins are dissolvable in fat and are stored within the body. Water-soluble vitamins are dissolvable in water. Because of their solubility, water-soluble vitamins do not last in the body long. Instead, they travel through the body very easily and even the slightest excess is excreted. Water-soluble vitamins have such a short storage period in the body that they need to be replenished every day. Fat-soluble vitamins, by contrast, do not need to be replenished very often. Reserves within the body can last weeks at a time, depending on how much your body has stored.

    What are the 6 essential nutrients?

    A person’s body cannot produce everything that it needs to function. There are six essential nutrients that people need to consume through dietary sources to maintain optimal health.

    The World Health Organization (WHO) note that essential nutrients are crucial in supporting a person’s reproduction, good health, and growth. The WHO divide these essential nutrients into two categories: micronutrients and macronutrients.

    Micronutrients are nutrients that a person needs in small doses. Micronutrients consist of vitamins and minerals. Although the body only needs small amounts of them, a deficiency can cause ill health.

    Macronutrients are nutrients that a person needs in larger amounts. Macronutrients include water, protein, carbohydrates, and fats.

    Keep reading for more information about where to find these nutrients, and why a person needs them.

    The six essential nutrients are vitamins, minerals, protein, fats, water, and carbohydrates.

    Share on Pinterest A diet rich in vegetable, fruits, and lean proteins should provide a person with plenty of vitamins.

    Vitamins are micronutrients that offer a range of health benefits, including:

    • boosting the immune system
    • helping prevent or delay certain cancers, such as prostate cancer
    • strengthening teeth and bones
    • aiding calcium absorption
    • maintaining healthy skin
    • helping the body metabolize proteins and carbs
    • supporting healthy blood
    • aiding brain and nervous system functioning

    There are 13 essential vitamins that nutritionists divide into two groups: fat soluble and water soluble.

    Water soluble vitamins are:

    Typically, a person who eats a diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and lean proteins can get all the vitamins they need in their food. However, those who eat less fruit and vegetables, and those with digestive conditions may need to take a vitamin supplement to reduce or avoid a deficiency.

    Minerals are the second type of micronutrients. There are two groups of minerals: major and trace minerals. The body needs a balance of minerals from both groups for optimal health.

    Major minerals help the body to do the following:

    • balance water levels
    • maintain healthy skin, hair, and nails
    • improve bone health
    • strengthening bones
    • preventing tooth decay
    • aiding in blood clotting
    • helping to carry oxygen
    • supporting the immune system
    • supporting healthy blood pressure

    A person can ensure they consume enough minerals by including the following foods in their diet.

    • red meats (limit their use and choose lean cuts)
    • seafood
    • iodized table salt (less than 2,300 milligrams a day)
    • milk and other dairy products
    • nuts and seeds
    • vegetables
    • leafy greens
    • fruits
    • poultry
    • fortified bread and cereals
    • egg yolks
    • whole grains
    • beans and legumes

    Protein is a macronutrient that every cell in the body needs to function properly.

    Proteins carry out a variety of functions, including:

    • ensuring the growth and development of muscles, bones, hair, and skin
    • forming antibodies, hormones, and other essential substances
    • serving as a fuel source for cells and tissues when needed

    A person can take in proteins through their diet. The following foods are good sources of protein:

    • red meats (limit their use and choose lean cuts)
    • poultry, including chicken and turkey
    • fish and other seafood and legumes
    • eggs
    • dairy products
    • nuts
    • some grains, including quinoa

    Although meats and fish tend to contain the highest levels of protein, vegans and vegetarians can get enough protein from various plant products.

    People often associate high fat foods with bad health. However, a person needs certain fats to help maintain optimal health.

    Fats provide the body with energy and help it carry out a range of functions. However, it is essential to consume healthful fats, such as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats and limit or avoid saturated and trans fats.

    Healthful fats help with the following functions:

    • cell growth
    • blood clotting
    • building new cells
    • reducing the risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes
    • muscle movement
    • balance blood sugar
    • brain functioning
    • mineral and vitamin absorption
    • hormone production
    • immune function

    According to recent Dietary Guidelines for Americans , a person should consume 20–35% of their calories from healthful fats.

    A person can find healthful fats in several foods, including:

    Carbohydrates are essential to the body. They are sugars or starches that provide energy for all the cells and tissues in the body.

    There are two different types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. People should limit their intake of simple carbohydrates, such as white bread, pasta, and rice. However, the body needs complex carbohydrates to support the following:

    • the immune system
    • brain function
    • the nervous system
    • energy to perform tasks
    • digestive function

    The Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend a person consumes 45–65% of their daily calories from complex carbohydrates.

    The following foods contain complex carbohydrates:

    • quinoa
    • vegetables
    • whole grain pasta, bread, and other baked goods
    • oatmeal
    • fruits
    • barley

    People should avoid overly processed products that contain bleached, white flour, and foods with added sugar.

    Water is probably the most important essential nutrient that a person needs. A person can only survive a few days without consuming water. Even slight dehydration can cause headaches and impaired physical and mental functioning.

    The human body is made up of mostly water, and every cell requires water to function. Water helps with several functions, including:

    • flushing toxins out
    • shock absorption
    • transporting nutrients
    • preventing constipation
    • lubrication
    • hydration

    The best source for water is to drink natural, unsweetened water from the tap or bottled sources. For people who do not like the taste of plain water, they can add a squeeze of lemon or other citrus fruits.

    Also, a person can get extra water by consuming fruits that contain a large amount of water.

    People should avoid getting their water intake from sugary drinks. Sugary drinks include sweetened teas, coffees, soda, lemonade, and fruit juices.

    A person needs to consume all six types of essential nutrients to ensure the best possible health. These nutrients support vital functions, including growth, the immune, the central nervous system, and preventing disease.

    Typically, a person who eats a healthful, balanced diet that includes lean proteins, vegetables, fruits, complex carbohydrates, and water will get the nutrients they need.

    People with digestive issues, who take certain medications, or have other conditions may require supplements to help them get the body’s essential nutrients.

    An individual should speak to their doctor about any medical conditions and the medications they are taking before they start to take any supplements. Also, they may want to see a dietitian or nutritionist to discuss their nutritional intake before they begin taking any supplements.

    British influence in the Caribbean leads to the use of limes over lemons and oranges, since limes are more available. British sailors are known as ‘limeys’, which refers to the practice of supplying rations of lime juice to British sailors to prevent scurvy.

    Norwegian biochemists Axel Holst and Alfred Fröhlich demonstrate that a scurvy-like condition could be produced in guinea pigs by restricting certain foods. When fed cabbage, the symptoms disappear. An intensive search begins to find the specific nutrient responsible.


    The haemostatic system is not fully mature until 3 to 6 months of age. It is, therefore, essential to acknowledge that the differences observed between adults and infants are probably physiological and do not always reflect an underlying pathological condition. Several clinical observations support the hypothesis that children have natural protective mechanisms that justify the existence of these broad variations, since they have both an increased capacity to inhibit thrombin and a decreased capacity to generate it 11 , 12 . Despite the presence of specific homeostatic mechanisms equilibrating the haemostatic balance in neonates and infants, the concentration and activity of vitamin K-dependent procoagulant factors might be dramatically reduced due to insufficient storage and poor transfer of vitamin K across the placental barrier. Although haemostasis might still be "appropriate" and the vast majority of neonates would not bleed, it is now universally accepted that all infants should be given prophylaxis with vitamin K at birth in order to prevent classical and late VKDB 37 , 38 . Although both intramuscular and oral administration of 1 mg of vitamin K protect against classical VKDB, a single oral dose does not protect all infants against late VKDB. The intramuscular route of administration of vitamin K prophylaxis has, therefore, been universally adopted, but oral administration should be continued subsequently, according to one of the available guidelines ( Table I ). This approach seems to effective at preventing VKDB, but also has some drawbacks, the foremost being the fact that available commercial products cost a hundred times more than the basic cost of their one active ingredient, so that broadening this policy to developing countries might be challenging 22 .

    Table I

    Summary of the available recommendations about vitamin K administration in neonates.


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