Anyone with a passing interest in their health will be able to rattle off afew of the major vitamins, and possibly take an educated guess at what they do.
Vitamin C, found in oranges and other fruit and veg, is important for woundrepair. And the much-talked-about 'sunshine' Vitamin D, produced by the skin inresponse to UV light, is essential for strong bones.
But Vitamin P? It might well have you scratching your head. And that's notsurprising: the term was first coined in the 1930s to describe a clutch ofcompounds that provide pigment to plants, and were believed to have healthbenefits. Fast-forward almost a century and these compounds are now better knownas flavonoids.
Today, scientists have identified between 4,000 and 6,000 different kindsand we now know they are responsible for many of the flavours and smells offruit and vegetables ? and also that they protect them from invaders such asfungi, pests and bacteria.
They are equally important nutrients for the body, helping maintain bonesand teeth, and for the production of the protein collagen, which providesstructure to blood vessels, muscles and skin.
They are also said to help the body deal with some of the key drivers ofillness, including inflammation and oxidation, a natural process by which thebody's cells 'age' and can become damaged and defective. That means they couldhelp to protect against chronic disease including cancer and heart disease.