Vitamins are one of those features of life that we take for granted. For some odd reason, we must obtain trace amounts of a dozen or so tiny molecules, or we will get very, very sick. To understand why this is so, you have to look back at the history of vitamins. And that history stretches back pretty much to the origin of life, a history whose traces we can see in our own DNA, and one that has shaped the balance of nature. For more, check out my feature in tomorrow’s New York Times (I’ll have more to add in my “Matter” column for the Times on Thursday).