Fat Soluble Vitamins
CAUTION: VITAMIN AND MINERAL REQUIREMENTS VARY FROM ONE INDIVIDUAL TO ANOTHER. INFORMATION REGARDING SUPPLEMENTS IS GENERAL INFORMATION. SUPPLEMENTS MAY NOT BE HELPFUL AND COULD BE HARMFUL FOR YOU. THE USE OF SUPPLEMENTS IS WIDELY DEBATED AMONG HEALTH PROVIDERS AND IS DISCOURAGED BY MANY. SOME PREPARATIONS OF VITAMIN AND MINERAL SUPPLEMENTS HAVE EXTREMELY HIGH DOSES THAT CAN BE HARMFUL TO YOUR HEALTH. YOUR PHYSICIAN AND OTHER HEALTH PROVIDERS NEED TO KNOW WHAT SYMPTOMS OF DEFICIENCY YOU HAVE AND WHAT SUPPLEMENTS YOU ARE TAKING, IF ANY, IN ORDER TO MONITOR YOUR HEALTH AND PLAN YOUR CARE.
The review and update of the section dealing with Vitamins and Minerals in “At Eden’s Gate: Whole Health and Well-Being” has been extensive. Every effort has been made to give credit to the sources used. Any omission is unintentional and with my apology.
A good resource for several specific vitamins and minerals is http://fnic.nal.usda.gov/food-composition/individual-macronutrients-phytonutrients-vitamins-minerals/vitamins-minerals
The National Institute of Health lists 13 essential vitamins which can be divided into two groups–fat soluble Vitamins A, D, E, and K and the rest which are water soluble, Vitamin C, Vitamin B1 (thiamine), Vitamin B2 (riboflavin), Vitamin B3 (niacin), Pantothenic acid, Biotin, Vitamin B6, Vitamin B12, and Folate (folic acid). http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002399.htm
In this article we will limit ourselves to a review of the Fat Soluble Vitamins.
VITAMINS are tiny, minute, complex substances that are VITAL, absolutely necessary, to physical and mental well-being. We fool ourselves, however, if we think we can eat an inadequate diet and make up for it with vitamin and mineral pills. Vitamins and minerals do not substitute for carbohydrates, proteins, and fats.
We fool ourselves also, if we think that providing our bodies with all it needs is all we need to make us happy and content. We’ll talk about what is VITAL to life in this larger sense in the following articles.
The amounts of vitamins required to keep us from becoming ill have been subjects for research. The recommended amounts are determined by the members of the National Academy of Sciences for the United States. The Federal Food and Drug Administration regulates their use in labeling of foods. The amounts needed vary depending on the different vitamins, environmental stress, usual diet, the individual and his or her state of health. The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) is the amount needed during research to keep individuals from showing signs of deficiency, plus 50% more of the vitamin. This amount is assumed to be sufficient to maintain health in a healthy individual.
Persons who are malnutritioned, ill, or using certain medications require more than the RDA of some nutrients. Some researchers, however, believe that greater amounts of vitamins are needed not only to improve health but to maintain it. This is especially true for the fat soluble Vitamins A and E and the water soluble Vitamins C and B Complex.
Fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the body and if intake is excessive they can be toxic. Water soluble vitamins are not stored in appreciable amounts and must be consumed daily because the amount ingested in excess of daily needs is excreted through the urine. Urine with a yellow straw color is considered normal, clear colored urine may indicate a need for more water soluble vitamins. Although water soluble vitamins may be taken in larger amounts than the RDA without being stored in excess, some research shows that very large amounts of B Vitamins have been harmful to the nervous system and especially the peripheral nerves. We’ll discuss each of the fat soluble vitamins in the following paragraphs.
FAT-SOLUBLE VITAMINS: A, D, E, and K.
SINCE THEY ARE ABSORBED WITH FAT, THEY ARE ALSO STORED IN THE BODY. Since they can be stored, excessive amounts can be toxic. If supplements of these vitamins are taken, they should be in moderate amounts and monitored carefully by yourself and your health consultant and/or doctor. Vitamin A’s precursor, beta-carotene, is considered more safe than pure Vitamin A preparations.
VITAMIN A is important to the health of your eyes, skin, mucous membrane linings of the respiratory, gastrointestinal, and reproductive systems, bone growth and cartilage replacement, teeth, hair, and immune system.
Foods rich in Vitamin A are green and yellow vegetables and yellow fruits. Because Vitamin A needs fat in order to be absorbed, green salads should be eaten with oil in dressing, and green and yellow vegetables eaten with butter or oil, or with a meal that contains other fats.
Supplements of Vitamin A can be toxic in large amounts causing joint pain, easy bruising, headache, greasy hair and hair loss, loss of appetite, yellow “whites” of the eye, “yellowing” (jaundice) of the skin and mucous membranes of the mouth and inside the eye lids. Adverse effects can occur before the “yellowing” occurs in the skin and eyes.
“Yellowing” is a symptom of liver damage and can be caused by other illnesses. It is always a danger sign and indicates a need for a medical doctor’s care.
VITAMIN D is manufactured in your skin and if you are in the sun much of the time, you will not need a supplement of Vitamin D. You will, however, need to take precautions against sunburn, over-tanning and drying your skin to help prevent skin cancer and premature aging. Vitamin D is added to milk and assists in utilization of calcium.
People who are indoors most of the time,or have milk allergies, or are strict vegetarians will need Vitamin D enriched foods, or an occasional supplement, with a meal or snack that includes oil or “fat” of some kind. Vitamin D can be toxic and seldom is needed every day. Headache, deep bone pain, excess calcium in the blood, and kidney stones are symptoms of possible toxicity. In deficiency, bones soften and deteriorate.
WEB MD includes Vitamin D as an important supplement in preventing and fighting breast cancer and colorectal cancer. It has a key role in cell development. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-and-supplements/lifestyle-guide-11/cancer-supplements?page=1
Additionally, it appears to have a role in carbohydrate metabolism and diabetes.
For more information see: http://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/vitamin-d-deficiency
and helpful in Fibromyalgia if body levels are low.
VITAMIN E is an antioxidant. It reacts with unstable compounds (free radicals) in the body before they join with living tissue and cause abnormal oxidation changes in the tissue. Vitamin E may interfere with anti-coagulant therapy aimed at reducing and preventing blood clots but may be recommended for prevention of certain other illnesses such as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinson’s Disease. http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-e
Very recent studies have indicated that Vitamin E and other anti-oxidents instead of protecting the lungs as previously thought, actually interferes with the body’s detection and natural early defense against lung cancer in smokers. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/01/29/us-antioxidants-idUSBREA0S1QV20140129
Vitamin E protects Vitamin A, the cell membranes, and essential fatty acids, and appears to be required for normal nerve development. Cataracts have been connected to diets low in Vitamin E, Riboflavin (B2), Vitamin C, and the minerals selenium and zinc.
Vitamin E is found in high amounts in wheatgerm oil, sunflower seeds, hazelnuts and almonds, sunflower and safflower oils and lesser amounts in peanuts It is destroyed by heating and exposure to air. In general, it is recommended to get one’s daily dose of Vitamin E from food sources and if taking a supplement to limit the dose to no more than 400 IU/day.
“Because the digestive tract requires fat to absorb vitamin E, people with fat-malabsorption disorders are more likely to become deficient than people without such disorders. Deficiency symptoms include peripheral neuropathy, ataxia, skeletal myopathy, retinopathy, and impairment of the immune response
…Person with an inability to digest fat will need to supplement with a water soluble form of Vitamin E, such as
water-soluble forms of vitamin E, such as tocopheryl polyethylene glycol-1000 succinate.”
VITAMIN K is essential to the body’s blood clotting process, healthy bones and tissues. Supplements are needed only when prescribed by your doctor for a disease affecting those processes. It is common in foods and is made by bacteria in your intestines. Vitamins A, D, E, and K need fat or oil taken with them to be absorbed. Newborns have very little Vitamin K and in the U.S. receive a shot of it soon after birth.
Medline Plus states the best way to get the daily requirement of vitamin K is by eating food sources. Vitamin K is found in the following foods:
Green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, parsley, romaine, and green leaf lettuce
Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage
Fish, liver, meat, eggs, and cereals (contain smaller amounts). http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/002407.htm
Persons taking blood thinning medications may be warned to avoid excessive dark green veggies that have the higher Vitamin K content because of the blood clotting capability. Physicians prefer that you take about the same amount of Vitamin K foods each day to facilitate regulation of the medication. People with vitamin K deficiency are usually more likely to have bruising and bleeding. Bruising and bleeding of the skin is a common sight among people taking Coumadin (warfarin) as a blood thinner. There are some newer medications that have a greater safety margin.
An excellent website for information on Vitamin K is
On the site we are reminded that the Recommended Daily Allowance of nutrients varies with age, gender, pregnancy, lactation, and illness.
Remember that the fat soluble vitamins NEED fat to be absorbed so use a little oil in cooking or in the meal in which the raw foods are served. Also they CAN be stored in the body, therefore, it is possible to overdose on either the foods or the supplements. In our next article, we will review the water soluble vitamins.