Fat Soluble Vitamins - The Basics

Vitamins belong in two groups: fat soluble vitamins and water soluble vitamins. Their category describes how they are carried in food and transported in your body.

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in your fat tissue and liver. That means they stay in the body longer than water soluble vitamins, which are excreted easily when there’s an excess, so make sure your diet and supplements don’t exceed the recommendations. You could end up with too much in your system, and that may do more harm than good.

Fat soluble vitamins (vitamins A, D, E, and K) dissolve in fat. That’s how they’re carried into your bloodstream and throughout your body-attached to substances within your body made with lipids, or fat. That’s one reason why you need moderate amounts of fat in your overall food choices.

Since your body stores fat soluble vitamins in body fat, consuming excessive amounts of any fat soluble vitamins for too long can be harmful. Vitamins and A and D, for example, can build up to harmful levels. High intakes of vitamins E and K usually aren’t linked to unhealthy symptoms.

Fat Soluble Vitamins – Vitamin A

Vitamin A has many health benefits, such as:

  • Promotes normal vision, and helps your eyes see normally in the dark, helping adjust to the lower level of light.
  • Promotes the growth and health of cells and tissues throughout your body; important for reproduction and development of the embryo.
  • Protects you from infections by keeping skin and tissues in your mouth, stomach, intestines, and respiratory, genital, and urinary tracts healthy.
  • Helps regulate immune system.
  • Works as an antioxidant in the form of carotenoids, and may reduce your risk for certain cancers and other diseases of aging.

    Carotenoids, such as alpha carotene and beta carotene, come from foods of plant origin. Carotenoids are found in red, yellow, orange, and many dark green leafy vegetables.

    In animal source of foods, fat soluble vitamin A, comes from liver, fish oil, eggs, milk fortified with vitamin A, and other vitamin A fortified foods.

    Tretinoin is the acid form of vitamin A also known as all-trans retinoic acid. A 2006 study suggests all-trans retinoic acid may be useful for treating autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis.

    Fat Soluble Vitamins – Vitamin D

    To keep bones strong as you age, your body needs calcium – along with it’s partner vitamin D. Vitamin D helps deposit calcium in your bones and together they help protect you from bone disease.

    Vitamin D is unique. It’s known as the “sunshine vitamin” because your body makes it after sunlight, or ultraviolet light, hits your skin. If you stay indoors, your body may lack vitamin D, especially if you don’t drink milk fortified with vitamin D.

    With age, the body doesn’t make vitamin D from sunlight as easily; by age seventy, 50 to 75 percent less vitamin D is made than for someone age twenty. The body doesn’t absorb as much vitamin D from food in later years either.

    What vitamin D does:

  • Promotes absorption of calcium and phosphorus; regulates how much calcium remains in blood.
  • Helps deposit these minerals in bones and teeth.
  • Helps regulate cell growth.
  • Plays a role in immunity.

    Vitamin D and calcium together may help prevent osteoporosis, aid weight loss and improve blood lipid levels; modulates the immune system, which may protect against autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and may reduce the risk of breast cancer and colorectal cancers.

    According to a new report from the Moores Cancer Center at the University of California, San Diego, taking 2000 IUs of this antioxidant daily can cut your risk of breast cancer by half and your risk of colorectal cancer by two thirds.

    In one research people with knee osteoarthritis who increased their daily vitamin D intake gained muscle strength and improved physical function. Daily vitamin D supplements increase calcium absorption by 65 percent, but that benefit can be blocked by consuming more than 300 milligrams (mg) of caffeine per day.

    Some fatty fish naturally supply vitamin D, another reason to enjoy salmon and tuna. As a public health strategy, most milk is vitamin D fortified, with 100 IU of vitamin D in an 8 ounce serving. Today’s supermarkets also carry vitamin D fortified yogurt, cheeses, juices, soy drinks, breakfast cereals, breads, and cereal bars, as well as eggs from hens raised on vitamin D fortified feed.

    In addition, one tablespoon of cod liver oil (also available in a capsule) provides 1,360 IUs. Consult with a doctor before taking it, since it can interact with some medications

    Sunning your arms and legs for 10 to 15 minutes (without sunscreen) may get you up to 15,000 IUs of Vitamin D.

    Fat Soluble Vitamins – Vitamin E

    For years, vitamin E has been surrounded by pseudo-scientific myths. It’s been misguidedly acclaimed as a cure for almost all that ails you: for example, improving sexual prowess, curing infertility, preventing aging, curing heart disease and cancer, and improving athletic performance, to name just a few. The benefits of vitamin E don’t extend this far, but it does appear to play a broad role in promoting your health.

    The main role of vitamin E – a fat soluble vitamin – appears to be as an antioxidant. It may help prevent the oxidation of LDL, or “bad,” cholesterol, which contributes to plaque buildup in the arteries; although the jury’s still out, that may help reduce the risk for heart disease and stroke.

    Vitamin E acts as a cellular guardian – cleaning up free radicals in the body and helps aid in the formation of red blood cells, reproduction and growth.

    Vitamin E also may help protect from cell damage that can lead ultimately to health problems such as cancer. Unfortunately, a study of 136 people with knee osteoarthritis found that supplemental vitamin E didn’t have any beneficial effect.

    The best sources of vitamin E are vegetable oils – for example, soybean, corn, cottonseed, and safflower. That includes margarine, salad dressing, and other foods made from oil.

    Nuts (especially almonds and hazelnuts), seeds (especially sunflower seeds), and wheat germ – all high in oil – are good sources, too, as are some fortified breakfast cereals. Green, leafy vegetables provide smaller amounts.

    Fat Soluble Vitamins – Vitamin K

    Vitamin K makes proteins that cause your blood to coagulate, or clot, when you bleed. That way, bleeding stops. It also helps your body make some other proteins, such as osteo-calcin, a protein that builds and strengthens bones.

    People taking blood thinning drugs, or anti-coagulants, need to eat foods with vitamin K in moderation. Too much can make blood clot faster. The Adequate Intake (AI) advises 75 micrograms daily for teens ages 14 to 18. During adulthood the intake goes up: 120 micrograms daily for men and 90 micrograms daily for women.

    Like vitamin D, you body can produce vitamin K on it’s own – this time from certain bacteria in your intestines. The best sources are green, leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli. However, a variety of foods provide smaller amounts, including some fruits, vegetables, and nuts.

    A study of more than 72,000 women found a link between low dietary vitamin K intake and an increased risk of hip fracture. Women who ate iceberg lettuce or romaine lettuce one or more times daily were 45 percent less likely to break a hip than those who ate lettuce once a week or less.

    Whole Food Supplements –
    Natures Fat Soluble Vitamins

    Unfortunately, most people don’t eat nearly enough fruits and vegetables, especially everyday. Whole food supplements provide whole food based nutrition, from a variety of nutritious fruits and vegetables.

    Just two capsules in the morning and two capsules in the evening provide the beta carotene of three raw carrots, and more vitamin E than several servings of spinach and broccoli… plus other vitamins, minerals, phytonutrients, and antioxidants from 17 different fruits, vegetables and grains.

    The U.S. government has spent billions trying to find a cure for heart disease, cancer, and other diseases.


    Disease is easier to PREVENT than it is to cure.


    Eat 7-13 servings of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.


    Almost no one does.

    Whole FOOD SUPPLEMENTS help fill the nutritional gaps.

    Much more than fat soluble vitamins discussed back at the Home Page

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