General Chemistry

Structures and Functions of Vitamins

Table 1, below, shows the structures and functions of several fat- and water-soluble vitamins. To view a larger representation of the 2D and 3D structures, click on the name of the vitamin. To view and rotate the vitamin molecules interactively using RASMOL, please click on the three-dimensional structures for the coordinate (.pdb) file.

Vitamin Name and Function



(Vitamin C)

Coenzyme for collagen (connective tissue protein) formation; antioxidant; antibody production; hormone synthesis; cholesterol formation and excretion

2D C

3D C

(Vitamin D2)

Calcium and phosphorus absorption and regulation (needed for bone, teeth, and proper nerve function); some role in insulin secretion

2D D2

3D D2

(Part of the Vitamin B Complex)

Release of energy from food; manufacture of coenzyme A (needed for breakdown of fats and carbohydrates; production of neurotransmitters; hemoglobin production

2D Pantothenic Acid

3D Pantothenic Acid

(Vitamin B6)

Release of energy from food; synthesis and breakdown of amino acids; prostaglandin manufacture (needed for blood pressure regulation and heart function); skin and hair maintenance; hormone production

2D Pyridoxine

3D Pyridoxine

(Vitamin A)

Vision; growth and repair of epithelial cells; embryonic development; production of myelin (nerve coating) and other membranes; immune system enhancement.

2D Retinol

3D Retinol

(Vitamin B2)

Tissue respiration; metabolism of carbohydrates, amino acids, and fats; growth and repair of body tissues; blood cell development and iron metabolism

2D Riboflavin

3D Riboflavin

(Vitamin E)

Antioxidant (protects cells from toxic compounds, heavy metals, radiation, and free radicals); retinal development; protects vitamin A in eyes

2D α-Tocopherol

3D α-Tocopherol

Table 1

The 2D representations shown in this table were drawn using CS ChemDraw Pro, and the 3D coordinates were obtained by MM2 minimization using CS Chem3D Pro.

Note: The 2D and 3D representations for each vitamin are drawn from the same view. The 3D (but not the 2D) representations are all drawn to the same scale. In the 3D representations, carbon atoms are gray, hydrogen atoms are light blue, oxygen atoms are red, and nitrogen atoms are dark blue. The coordinates for the 3D representations were obtained from molecular-modeling calculations, and the images were rendered using SwissPDB Viewer and POV-Ray (see References).


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This page created by Matt Traverso, Washington University in St Louis.
© 2004, Washington University.
Materials and Information present may be reproduced for educational purposes only.

Revised: 2004-08-08