There are fat-soluble vitamins, and there are water-soluble vitamins. The big difference between these two types of vitamins can be found in how your body uses them – in other words, how your body absorbs them. Their names come from the way they are absorbed, actually (makes it easy to remember that way).
There are also nutrients that are absorbed better when eating certain foods or taking certain vitamins with them. And vice versa.
One good example of this is the fact that vitamin D is needed in order to help the body absorb calcium – but you don’t have to take both at the same time to get the benefits.
What Are Fat-Soluble Vitamins?
The word soluble means that something is able to be dissolved. Knowing that definition will help you remember what fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins do. They dissolve in their respective components. Meaning, fat-soluble vitamins need fat in order to be dissolved into the body.
Now that you know how they dissolve, through lipids – where are fat-soluble vitamins absorbed would be the next logical question. They are absorbed in chylomicrons, better known as fat globules. In these globules of fat, the vitamins will then go into the lymphatic system and into the bloodstream to be circulated throughout your body. They are then stored in the tissues of the body.
Fat-soluble vitamins stay in your body’s tissue. That means you don’t need a ton of them since they stick around. If you get a build-up of these vitamins, it can cause issues. Hypervitaminosis is a toxic level of vitamins that can cause health issues.
There are also reasons your body might not be absorbing the fat-soluble vitamins you consume. Some drugs (prescription and otherwise) can affect this absorption process. If you’re not taking in enough fat-soluble vitamins, you could suffer a vitamin deficiency.
Which Vitamins Are Fat-Soluble?
Most of the lettered vitamins are fat-soluble, but not all of them. B vitamins are water-soluble. Here is a list of the fat-soluble vitamins:
- Vitamin A
- Vitamin E
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin K
Each of those vitamins needs a fat source in order for your body to use them. They get that from the other foods you eat when you take them, or when you eat the foods containing them.
Consider introducing healthy fats to your diet for better vitamin absorption – like fish oils and avocados.
Foods Containing Fat-Soluble Vitamins
There are lots of food options that are rich in these fat-soluble vitamins. Plus, you can get vitamin D directly from the sun – just spend 15 minutes a day in the sunshine for your recommended daily allowance. There are also foods fortified with vitamin D, like cereal and milk.
Sure, you can get your vitamins through supplements – but it’s always smarter to get it right for some source. Here’s a list of fat-soluble vitamin foods to add to your diet, and which vitamin you’re getting the most of from them –
1. Vitamin A Foods
Vegetables and fruits that contain vitamin A include oranges, yellow fruits, leafy green vegetables, carrots, squash, and pumpkins. Vitamin A can also be found in some animal by-products. This includes liver, fish, and dairy products.
2. Vitamin E Foods
Vitamin E is most commonly found in seeds and nuts, like almonds and sunflower seeds. However, it can also be sourced from fruits and vegetables. These include avocado, mangos, red peppers, turnip greens, and kiwi. You can also get vitamin E from many fish and seafood sources.
3. Vitamin K Foods
Vitamin K is most commonly found in animal by-products, like liver and eggs. However, it can also be found in leafy greens, like kale and spinach. For some people. It can be easy to get low on vitamin K – and this vitamin is essential to bone health – so a supplement may be a good idea in this case.
Why You Need Them
Each vitamin does different things inside the human body, so why you need one may be completely different than why you need another.
Vitamin A supports healthy vision. It works to keep you from having cataracts and macular degeneration. Vitamin D supports bone and dental health, while vitamin K does this as well as helping your blood clot. Vitamin E is more than just a “vitamin,” it’s also one of the most powerful antioxidants, and it can help fight the production of cancer cells, and it’s good for your skin.
While there are vitamins and minerals the human body produces on its own, there are some it doesn’t. And, even with the ones it does make, age and drug interactions can slow down the process greatly, which leads to the need for replenishing those vitamins through supplements or a healthy diet.
You always get more out of eating natural sources to get the vitamins you need. You can do a little further research to find out which ones have nutrients that break down when you cook them, so you know what’s better for you in a raw state. Some fruits and vegetables release more nutrients when they are prepared in certain ways.
You and Your Fat-Soluble Vitamins
To get the most from your fat-soluble vitamins, always be sure you’re consuming a well-rounded diet that includes whole grains, colorful fruits and vegetables, low-fat dairy products and meats.
The more well-rounded your diet is, the healthier you’ll be (and the less you’ll need to take supplements).
If you think you may be low in a particular vitamin, talk to your doctor about ways to test for vitamin deficiencies.