What are vitamin-like substances and what are they contained

Carbohydrate foods

Vitamin-like substances: these include substances similar to “classical” vitamins in high biological activity: their use in relatively small doses has a significant effect on the physiological functions of the body.

Vitamins and vitamin-like substances are distinguished by the fact that with their insufficient intake with food, pathological changes characteristic of vitamin deficiencies do not occur. Many of them can be synthesized from intermediate metabolic products or are contained in food in quantities sufficient for a healthy body. At the same time, a moderate deficiency of vitamin-like substances is a widespread phenomenon, and they are often used in food supplements and multivitamins, as well as in the treatment of many diseases.


It is necessary for the liver to function, lowers blood cholesterol, strengthens the capillary walls, normalizes the nervous system, and stimulates growth in children. The daily requirement for inositol is 0.5-1.5 g. Inositol is widespread in food, the usual diet contains enough of it – about 1 g. Most of inositol is found in sesame oil, bran, brewer’s yeast, wheat germ, green peas, citrus fruits, brains and heart. In addition, inositol is synthesized in the intestines. However, this synthesis can be disrupted by the use of certain medicinal substances, which contributes to the development of atherosclerosis, some diseases of the liver and gastrointestinal tract.

Vitamin B15 (pangamic acid)

These are vitamin-like substances contained in plant seeds: in their embryonic part, in sprouts, in the nuclei of stone fruits, which is why it got the name, which roughly translates as “in all seeds.” Pangamic acid is involved in oxidative processes, increases the activity of respiratory enzymes and the stability of the body during oxygen starvation, improves muscle activity and especially the activity of the heart muscle. The use of vitamin B15 promotes better use of oxygen in cellular metabolism, thereby increasing the body’s resistance to various toxic substances, reducing the side effects of some antibiotics and sulfonamides. The daily human need for vitamin B15, as well as the cases of its vitamin deficiency, are unknown. Vitamin B15 preparation – calcium pangamate – is used in the treatment of chronic liver diseases, rheumatic heart disease, alcoholism, and various kinds of poisoning in a daily dose of 2 mg. Pangamic acid does not possess toxic properties and does not accumulate in the body – its excess is easily excreted in the urine.

Para-aminobenzoic acid

It is necessary for the normal functioning of bacteria that make up the intestinal microflora. Intestinal microorganisms synthesize vitamin B6 from para-aminobenzoic acid – folic acid, the most important anti-anemic factor. Para-aminobenzoic acid takes part in the processes that provide pigmentation of the skin (including the synthesis of melanin during sunburn) and hair. Due to the wide distribution of para-aminobenzoic acid in food, specific manifestations of its deficiency are not observed in humans. It is possible that a violation of the metabolism of this acid is the cause of early gray hair.

Vitamin F

Polyunsaturated fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 are involved in the assimilation of fats by the body and in the fat metabolism of the skin, prevent the development of atherosclerotic changes in the vessels, helping to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood.

Despite the fact that the vitamin is not synthesized in the body, the signs of its deficiency in humans are unknown. For skin diseases and atherosclerosis, vitamin F is used in the form of various preparations and dietary supplements.

Vitamin U

Experimental work at the end of the 50s of the XX century established that the juice of fresh vegetables and especially white cabbage quickly cures experimental stomach ulcers in animals. Subsequent human studies have shown that taking large amounts (up to several liters per day) of cabbage juice has a good effect in the treatment of gastric and duodenal ulcers. The substance providing the antiulcer activity of cabbage juice was called vitamin U (after the first letter of the Latin word “ulcus” – an ulcer). Vitamin U is used in the form of cabbage juice or its concentrates.

Orotic acid

Orotic acid is referred to as vitamin-like substances because it participates in the synthesis of nucleic acids and has a positive effect on the growth and development of animals when kept on an inadequate diet. The main sources of orotic acid in food are liver, milk and yeast. There were no signs of a lack of orotic acid in humans, but it is used in the form of potassium salt for feeding premature babies, for diseases of the liver and cardiovascular system, and radiation sickness. Orotic acid is thought to improve memory processes.

Lipoic acid

There were no obvious signs of lipoic acid deficiency in humans. Its hypovitaminosis leads to metabolic disorders of carbohydrates and cholesterol, neurological disorders, fatty degeneration of the liver, but it is very rare, since lipoic acid is found in sufficient quantities in many fruits and vegetables. It is especially abundant in greens and cabbage.

in 1951, an American named Reed and his colleagues isolated lipoic acid from beef liver. Interestingly, from 10 tons of liver, only 30 mg of crystalline substance was obtained. In 1953, it was possible to obtain lipoic acid by chemical synthesis.

Lipoic acid and preparations based on it are used for the prevention and treatment of atherosclerosis, diabetes, liver diseases, as a diuretic and for the neutralization of some poisons.

Vitamin T (carnitine)

Carnitine participates in the oxidation of free fatty acids, helps to reduce the volume of adipose tissue. In atherosclerosis, cardiovascular disease and obesity, carnitine is used to lower the level of fats in the blood and body tissues. Experimental studies have discovered the ability of this vitamin to stimulate growth. Sources of carnitine include fish, poultry, lean beef, and brewer’s yeast.


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