What Are Fat Soluble Vitamins? 4 of The Most Vital Vitamins for The Body
Why fat soluble vitamins are so important for the body, and how they differ from their water soluble amigos!
You know it, we know it. Heck, the whole WORLD knows it:
Vitamins are vital for our health.
While most are naturally available in a range of food sources, our modern lifestyles can often mean we don’t eat enough of these foods.
Of course, supplements are there to fill the “vitamin gap,” so to speak. This option is gaining in popularity, with at least 65% of UK adults having taken supplements or vitamins in a given year.
What many people don't realise, though, is that vitamins differ based on their solubility. I.e how easily they dissolve.
Whether a vitamin is water soluble or fat soluble impacts how it should be taken, what it can do for the body, and how long it stays in our systems.
So, in this value-packed article, we’ll be delving into:
- What are fat soluble vitamins, and why they’re essential for good health.
- The key differences between fat soluble and water soluble vitamins in the body, and how they’re stored.
- How combining different vitamins can improve their efficiency. Plus, the specific blends we recommend.
But if you’ve only got 30 seconds… here’s a quick-fire summary:
🍊 Vitamins A, E, D, and K are classed as the fat soluble vitamins
🦴 These 4 vitamins are key for bone health, cell function, hair growth, and many more body functions
Table Of Contents
FAQs About Fat-Soluble Vitamins
➡️Are water-soluble vitamins better than fat-soluble vitamins?
➡️Will taking fat-soluble vitamins make you gain weight?
➡️What happens if you take too many fat-soluble vitamins?
➡️What water-soluble vitamins cannot be stored in the body?
➡️What are the main foods with fat-soluble vitamins?
Fat soluble vitamins unlock their health benefits by using fat to dissolve in the body. They must be taken with small amounts of fat. Ideally, chose “good fat” that can be found in foods such as avocados and nuts.
The four fat soluble vitamins (which we’ll come back to a little further down the page!) are:
Fat Soluble vs. Water Soluble Vitamins: When Do You Take Them?
Like the name suggests, water soluble vitamins dissolve in water. When consumed as part of your diet, drinking plenty of water helps to dissolve them naturally.
And if you’re taking supplements, it’s always best to swallow them with a full glass of water.
Water soluble vitamins to know about include:
- Vitamin C, and
- x8 of the B-vitamins:
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Thiamin (vitamin B1)
- Riboflavin (vitamin B2)
- Niacin (vitamin B3)
- Pantothenic acid (vitamin B5)
- Biotin (vitamin B7)
- Folic acid (folate, vitamin B9)
Daily Vitamins on the Nutravita Store
To put it as simply as possible:
Fat soluble vitamins get stored in the liver and fatty tissues, while...
Excess water soluble vitamins are removed with waste (urine) and are not stored
List of Fat Soluble Vitamins — A, D, E, and K
A is one of the lesser known vitamins on the list.
Interestingly, vitamin A is actually made up of a mixture of nutritional compounds. It’s known to help with:
- Vision - Vitamin A is necessary for tear fluid formation and for sensing light. One of the first signs of deficiency can be night blindness. It may also result in a condition known as xerophthalmia, which causes dry eyes due to a lack of tear production.
- Immunity - Vitamin A supports the immune system to defend the body against infections.
- Cell growth - Vitamin A deficiency in children can be harmful to their growth.
- Hair maintenance - Vitamin A keeps your hair health in good check, reducing the chances of hair loss.
- Reproductive function - Vitamin A contributes to fertility and is essential for foetal development during early-stage pregnancy.
A rather important list of functions, right?
Vitamin A - 8000 IU
You might be wondering where you can get this vitamin.
This supplement is a convenient option, offering a one-year supply.
In terms of food sources, animal products such as liver, fish oil, and butter are particularly rich in “pre-formed” vitamin A.
However, some plants contain beta-carotene, the precursor that our bodies convert to vitamin A.
The best sources for beta-carotene are carrots, kale, and spinach.
Top Tip: Vitamin A deficiency is more likely in people whose diets exclude unprocessed vegetables.
The term vitamin E refers to a collection of not one, not two, but EIGHT antioxidants. They protect your cells from free radicals and oxidative stress.
Alpha-tocopherol is the most common, making up most of the vitamin E in the blood.
You can get more of these antioxidants by eating foods such as nut butters, seeds, and vegetable oils.
But don’t forget — vitamin E should be taken with other nutrients like vitamin C, selenium, and vitamin B3 to function at its best.
People suffering from severe vitamin E deficiency can experience:
That said, vitamin E deficiency is rare in otherwise healthy people.
Instead, it tends to happen when certain diseases impair the absorption of fat or vitamin E from food.
Vitamin E - 268mg (400 IU)
Note: Hold up! At doses over 1,000 mg per day, the effects of vitamin E can reverse, so it becomes a “pro-oxidant.” This may potentially lead to oxidative stress. Overdosing can have a blood-thinning effect, so people on blood-thinning medication should take care before buying vitamin E supplements.
Vitamin D comes in two dietary forms. Aren’t we spoilt for choice?!
First, there’s Vitamin D2. This is found within some plants (and mushrooms that have been exposed to sunlight or ultraviolet light).
Second, you’ve got Vitamin D3, which is found in several animal-sourced foods. The body also produces D3 when the skin is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D works in two primary areas:
- Immunity - Vitamin D regulates and maintains the body’s immune system. A shortage of vitamin D may further expose people to infections and autoimmune diseases. It has also been linked with an increased risk of cancer. To discover Vitamin D's potential relationship with coronavirus, please read more here.
- Bone strength - It aids the absorption of calcium and phosphorus, which are essential for bone growth and strength. Vitamin D deficiency results in a condition called osteomalacia in adults and rickets in children. It is characterised by soft bones, weak muscles, and a propensity for bone fractures.
The body needs adequate levels of sunlight to produce enough vitamin D, and as you may know, not everyone’s lifestyles (or climates!) allow them to get enough.
People in the UK, for example, are generally advised to supplement their vitamin D intake because of the overcast weather.
Fat Soluble Vitamin D3 - 1,000 IU
Note: Be wary of overdosing on vitamin D, as it can result in headaches, nausea, lack of appetite, weight loss, fatigue, and high blood pressure. Unless you have a deficiency, which may demand a higher daily dose, the vitamin D3 supplement above should be sufficient to keep levels steady.
Vitamin K consists of both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2, but it isn’t easily stored in the body.
Therefore, it’s a smart strategy to make sure you’re getting enough through food or supplementation.
The benefits of vitamin K include:
- Bone health – Vitamin K2 activates osteocalcin, a protein that helps calcium reach your bones.
- Blood maintenance - Vitamin K helps to stop an unhealthy build-up of calcium in the blood vessels, which can be a factor in heart disease.
- Coagulation - Vitamin K plays a critical role in blood clotting. A deficiency can cause wounds to bleed more than they should.
The human body is a complex, clever system, and no part works in isolation!
This is true of vitamins, too.
Their effectiveness often depends on how they interact with each other...
Vitamin D3 Blended with Vitamin K2
The functions of vitamin D3 and vitamin K2 are closely tied together.
They compliment each other in the following ways:
- Better absorption in the bones – Using the two vitamins together increases the rate at which calcium is absorbed into bones, more than it would when using either vitamin on its own. Without D3 and K2, calcium cannot do its job effectively.
- Helps to bind excess calcium – For anyone concerned about Vitamin D3’s potential to produce excessive calcium in the blood, blending with Vitamin K2 activates a protein (MGP) that binds excess calcium. This reduces calcium plaque in the arteries, promotes blood flow, and protects against heart disease.
Vitamin D Blended with Vitamin C
Unlike the other vitamins above, vitamin C is a water soluble vitamin known for its immune-boosting properties.
It helps to protect cells and maintain healthy skin, cartilage, and blood vessels.
Vitamin C and D are, arguably, the most talked about of all!
To get the “best of both worlds,” so to speak, you can combine the fat soluble vitamin D and the water soluble vitamin C in a healthy immune complex:
Still got unanswered questions about fat-soluble vitamins?
Don’t sweat it!
Let's look at some of the most frequently asked questions about this topic that you’ll see on Google:
Your body needs both kinds of vitamins to maintain health, so neither type is better than the other. In fact, the blends we mention work well together, so it’s better to take both!
Fat soluble vitamins don't actually contain fat. They get the name from the way they are absorbed, but that amount of fat doesn’t have to be much! Healthy fats, such as a few nuts or some avocado, are more than enough to break the vitamins down.
This will depend on which vitamin is taken. You should always stick to the recommended dose on the packaging or seek advice from a doctor if you’re not sure. Some risks of overdose include:
- Vitamin A toxicity can lead to bone pain and changes to vision and skin, but it’s difficult to overdose on this unless your intake is significantly above the advised amounts.
- Vitamin D toxicity can lead to the build-up of calcium in the blood, leading to kidney and heart issues.
- Vitamin E overdose can result in diarrhoea, flatulence, bloating, headache, weakness, fatigue, and blurred vision.
- Vitamin K overdose interferes with blood clotting and can be dangerous for people with liver disease or on kidney dialysis.
Water soluble vitamins aren’t stored in the body, which is why they should be ingested or taken on a daily basis.
To ensure you’re getting fat soluble vitamins in your diet, you should look to eat reasonable quantities of:
- Leafy dark green vegetables such as kale, spinach, and broccoli.
- Orange vegetables like carrots and squash.
- Nuts, seeds, or soy.
- Animal-sourced foods like beef liver, egg yolks, and oily fish are also excellent sources of fat soluble vitamins.
To Healthier Days, Nutravita
📙 SUGGESTED READING: Vitamin D3 and K2 — Why Is Their Nourishing Partnership So Good for the Body?
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Co-written by Declan Davey
Declan is a Health Copywriter with a professional background as an NHS therapist. His previous roles include work with mental health services and disability charities in London, UK.
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