The 4 Essential Fat-Soluble Vitamins: What You Need to Know

The four fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins are more easily absorbed by the body when dietary fats are present. In contrast, water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and include vitamin C and all B vitamins. Small amounts of these micronutrients are required in the diet to promote growth, reproduction and health. Vitamins A, D, E and K are known as fat-soluble vitamins because they dissolve in fat and are transported in a similar way to fats.

These vitamins are essential for a wide range of biological processes in the body. Vitamin A and vitamin E are considered essential vitamins because the body cannot produce them and we have to get them from food. Vitamin K is partially produced in the colon, while vitamin D is produced in limited quantities by exposure to sunlight. Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in tissues, so the body has access to them as needed. This means that it would be easier to absorb more fat-soluble vitamins than are actually needed, since the kidneys do not eliminate them once the needs are met.

Over time, you can accumulate a dangerous amount of fat-soluble vitamins if you don't follow the daily intake limits set by the National Academy of Sciences. The amount allowed for children and adults varies. Talk to your healthcare provider if you are taking or plan to take these vitamins to make sure you stay within a safe daily intake range. Taking too much of these vitamins could cause a variety of health problems, including birth defects, blurred vision, heart rhythm problems, and liver problems. Consumed in adequate amounts, fat-soluble vitamins are essential for normal functioning, growth and tissue maintenance. Here's everything you need to know about fat-soluble vitamins, where to find them and their role in the body. The decrease in bile salt synthesis by the diseased liver causes steatorrhea and reduces the ability to emulsify and absorb fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin K.

Basically, research indicates that to receive the full benefits of antioxidants and phytonutrients in the diet, these compounds must be consumed in the form of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds, not as supplements. Carotenoids are red and yellow pigments found in fruits and vegetables and are also fat-soluble nutrients. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, which the body needs regular replacement, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and fatty tissues and are eliminated much more slowly than water-soluble vitamins. While illnesses caused by a lack of fat-soluble vitamins are rare in the United States, symptoms of mild deficiency can occur without adequate amounts of vitamins in the diet. Each of the four fat-soluble vitamins plays a different role in the body and provides a different range of health benefits. Vitamin E benefits the body by acting as an antioxidant and protecting vitamins A and C, red blood cells and essential fatty acids from destruction. These 13 essential vitamins fall into one of two categories: water-soluble or fat-soluble vitamins.

However, fat-soluble vitamins cannot be excreted through the urine, so they have the potential to accumulate in the body and even reach toxic amounts. The reduction in biliary excretion resulting from chronic obstructive intrahepatic jaundice (primary biliary cirrhosis) leads to steatorrhea and an associated decrease in the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamin E (Atkinson et al.).

Ben Liebhardt
Ben Liebhardt

Amateur travel fanatic. General web buff. Certified travel junkie. Twitter nerd. Infuriatingly humble web practitioner. Certified beer nerd.

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