We all know they are important but knowing why, how to get them, how to absorb them and where to find them make it much easier (and fun).
First off, the fat soluble vitamins are vitamins A D E and K
They impact everything from hormones, to immune function, to eyesight, bone health, and more.
They are stored in your body longer than water soluble vitamins’
Fat soluble vitamins need to be eaten with fat in order to absorb them.
So, you need to be able to absorb fat to digest them. This means you need your gallbladder releasing bile to help emulsify fats and your pancreas releasing lipases in order to break them down, and you need your intestinal lining in tact so you can absorb them.
Because, as my teacher Andrea Nakayama says, we are not just what we eat but what we can do with the foods and nutrients we eat.
Let’s break them down and get practical
Vitamin A- Vitamin A was named because it was the first vitamin discovered, so it naturally is vitamin A.
Symptoms of low vitamin A include night blindness, increased infections, and bumps on the skin.
Someone might need extra vitamin A if they have pancreas issues or problems with bile, liver disease, chronic alcohol use, zinc deficiency, people on cortisone (problem converting), protection from smoke/smog, and high iron intake.
Benefits of vitamin A include a healthy immune response including increased white blood cells (fight bacteria and viruses) and increased antibody response (especially IgA in the respiratory system and digestive system mucus membranes). It is important for eye health, skin disorders, cancer prevention and immune health.
Food sources of vitamin A come in two forms, vitamin A itself and provitamin A sources or carotenes. The latter can be converted into vitamin A (liver function is important here) but you need much more carotenoids or beta carotene because we absorb less of it.
- Vitamin A Retinol- kidney, liver, butter, whole milk, egg yolks, fish, poultry
- Carotenoids- dark leafy greens, yellow/orange vegetables like carrots and yellow peppers, sweet potatoes, yams, squash, apricots, dandelion root, micro algae (spirulina)
Vitamin D- Vitamin D is actually more of a hormone than a vitamin and is also called the sunshine vitamin.
Every single cell in the body respond to only 2 things, Vitamin D and thyroid hormone (in other words, they are super important!)
Benefits of vitamin D- bone health is dependent on functional levels of vitamin D (regulates serum calcium), immune enhancement and keeping a healthy immune system, disease prevention (direct access to genetic material, epigenetics), helps with pain management, blood pressure regulation.
Food sources of vitamin D- Cod liver oil, mackerel, salmon, herring, butter, egg yolks, liver. We can also make vitamin D from the sunshine. When the sun hits our skin cholesterol in skin layer converts to D3. D3 travels to the liver and is converted into 25-OH D3. This then travels to the kidneys and converts to 125 hydroxy D3 (Boron is important here as well as kidney and liver health).
Testing for vitamin D is easy and important
Vitamin E- Vitamin E is a family of vitamins and is a very important antioxidant.
People at increased risk of vitamin E deficiency- Someone with IBD, cystic fibrosis, general gastrointestinal issues or surgeries.
Deficiency symptoms- nerve damage, weak muscles, poor coordination, involuntary movement of the eye, hemolytic anemia high oxidative stress.
Vitamin E protects cells from damage (it reacts to free radicals and neutralizes them before they can do damage to the cell membrane).
Uses of vitamin E include antioxidant use, hormone balance for women (including help with fibrocystic breasts, cramps, hot flashes, and menopause issues), stabilizes blood fats, protects blood vessels, immune support
Forms of vitamin E- l-alpha tocopherol is synthetic while d-alpha is natural (but there are many more natural forms)
Sources of vitamin E- seeds, nuts, whole grains, asparagus, avocados, berries, green leafy vegetables, tomatoes, wild rose hips, eggs
Vitamin K- This vitamin got its name from a German word for clotting.
Vitamin K helps with blood clotting, bone health, red blood cell formation and reduces excessive menstrual flow
Food sources- Kale, green tea, turnip greens, spinach, broccoli, natto, chlorophyll is a great source, brassica, sea vegetables, grass fed butter, parsley, whole milk, hard cheese
Forms of vitamin K-
- K1 (natural form from plants),
- K2 (produced by specific gut bacteria),
- K3 (synthetic form)
What foods can you add to increase your fat soluble vitamins?
Some people can get their fat soluble vitamins from foods and some people need to supplement. Do you know which is right for you?
Sources For This Article-
- Gitalis. Josh. Lecture #1. Therapeutic Nutrition and Supplements in Practice. 2021
- Bauman, Ed. Therapeutic Nutrition. Bauman Institute. 2019
Foundations of Health– Group starting Sept 12th!
Womens’ Hormone Club– Group each winter
Spring Cleanse– Group each spring