Fat Soluble Vitamins


Nutrient density

All vitamins are critical to health, but due to the recent misinformation that fat in the diet leads to disease, the intake of the fat soluble vitamins is somewhat compromised by low fat diet recommendations. Vitamins are essential organic substances needed in small amounts in the diet for normal function, growth, and maintenance of body tissues

The fat soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. They can only be up-taken by the body if there is fat present when they are in the process of digestion as they bind only to fat. The higher the quality of the fat that you are eating, the more the quantity of these life giving vitamins will be present within it. This is why it is so important to choose nutrient dense foods that have these vitamins present.

Quite honestly, looking at these vitamins in isolation is not very realistic, nothing in the body operates in a vacuum, and everything is reliant on something else.

For example; vitamins A and D work together over telling cells to make certain proteins, once made, vitamin K activates these proteins. For this reason, supplements that come in pill form and up levels of one type of vitamin in isolation are often the cause of toxicity, they are just not being delivered into ones system in the way that nature intended. When one eats natural foods, the levels of the vitamins present are usually there in the ratio that nature wanted them to be, so this is a much superior way of presenting to ones body the vitamins and minerals that it needs to operate efficiently.

The fat-soluble vitamins not only work with each other, but cooperate with many other nutrients and metabolic factors such as magnesium, zinc, fat, carbohydrate, carbon dioxide and thyroid hormones.

Vitamin A

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 900 mcg/ day for adult males and 700 mcg/day for adult females.

Vitamin A is critical to health, and the metabolism of various minerals and proteins.

  • It is particularly important to growing children and to parents who are trying to conceive, it plays a great role in reproductive health because it is important in sex hormones.
  • Vitamin A aids ones immune system
  • Vitamin A is really great for your eyes- It helps one develop good vision. Vitamin A is also important in visual functions in the retina and the structural components of the eye
  • Vitamin is is vital for healthy skin, the skin, eyes, and mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs depend on vitamin A to remain moist.
  • Vitamin A plays a crucial role in the health of ones heart.

Those are just a few of the things that are wonderful about Vitamin A, like I mentioned before, noting in the human body acts in isolation.

Vitamin A is stored in the liver. Stress is one of the things that  might deplete ones vitamin A stores because when ones body is stressed it has less energy to digest food, and especially to metabolize fat soluble vitamins. Any form of stress, be it physical exercise or illness will deplete vitamin A, so considerations for those that are under stress would be a diet high in vitamin A foods. Excess protein consumption also depletes vitamin A as it is needed in the process of metabolizing protein.

Retinal is the type of vitamin A found in animal products, its very easily converted by the body into vitamin A. Retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid are all types of retinoids.

Carotinoids are the type of vitamin A found in plants, and this takes a lot of work for the body to covert into a usable form. Therefore they are not considered a ‘true’ form of vitamin A, but rather, a precursor. Humans are not particularly rapid converters of vitamin A, so it is beneficial to ingest it in the retinal (animal product) form and give the body less of a job to do.

Vitamin A supports the intestinal absorption of zinc, possibly by increasing the production of a binding protein in the intestines. Zinc, in turn, supports the formation of vesicles involved in transporting vitamin A and the other the fat-soluble vitamins across the intestinal wall. Another example of how things all work together. In Short, vitamin A from high quality retinol sources- like grass feed animals is the best and most useful form for you body. If the meat that you are eating is coming from commercially farmed animals, there is a good chance that it is low in vitamin A in comparison to meat from free range grass fed animals. Cows need to consume green grass in order to have meat and dairy that is high in vitamin A.

Retinol in Micrograms per 100-gram serving.
Calf Liver (21140 mcg per 100-gram serving)
Goose Liver Pate (1001 mcg per 100-gram serving)
Fresh Butter (671 mcg per 100-gram serving)
Fresh Tuna (655 mcg per 100-gram serving)
Fresh Cream (405 mcg per 100-gram serving)

Vitamin D

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D appears as micrograms (mcg) of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). From 12 months to age fifty, the RDA is set at 15 mcg. Twenty mcg of cholecalciferol equals 800 International Units (IU), which is the recommendation for maintenance of healthy bone for adults over fifty

This is actually a group of fat soluble vitamins considered to be prohormones, which are essential to hormone health as they are precursors to hormones.

  • Vitamin D is vital for bone health
  • Vitamin D plays a crucial part in the way that calcium is absorbed in the small intestine
  • Vitamin D is essential for immune system operation.
  • Vitamin D helps control cell growth
  • Vitamin D is involved in smooth muscular functioning

There are several forms of vitamin D, but the most common are ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) which is found in plants and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) which is synthesized in the body from cholesterol

Your body can only make vitamin D from the sun when you are in direct sunlight. For many of us that spend our working days indoors this is not a very active source of Vitamin D for us. Winter also poses a problem, as even if one is outdoors in the winter, the chances are that one is covered in clothes therefore not getting sunlight on skin.

Magnesium is required for both steps in the activation of vitamin D to calcitriol, the form of vitamin D that regulates gene expression and stimulates calcium absorption (uh oh, stuff working together again!) Even fully activated vitamin D (calcitriol), however, is useless in the absence of magnesium. Humans who are deficient in magnesium have low blood levels of both calcitriol and calcium, but treating them with calcitriol does nothing to restore calcium levels to normal. The only way to normalize calcium levels in these subjects is to provide them with sufficient magnesium

If the meat that you are eating is coming from commercially farmed animals, there is a good chance that it is low in vitamin D in comparison to meat from free range grass fed animals. Cows need to graze in sunshine in order to have meat and dairy that is high in vitamin D

Populations at risk from Vitamin D deficiency:

  • People with darker skin- people with dark pigment synthesize less vitamin D upon exposed to sunlight
  • Elderly- Elderly people have less ability to synthesize vitamin D.
  • People that cover their skin with sunscreen when outside.
  • People with inflammatory bowel diseases.

IUs of Vitamin D   per 100-gram serving.

  • Sunlight.
  • Mackerel Sashimi (360 IU)
  • Raw Oysters (320 IU)
  • Sardines (272 IU)
  • Raw Pastured Egg Yolk (107 IU)

 

Vitamin E

RDA guidelines state that males and females over the age of 14 should receive 15 mcg of alpha-tocopherol per day

Vitamin E refers to tocopherrols which are also fat soluble vitamins. It is a very powerful antioxidant and great for the health of the cardiovascular system. Vitamin E is essential for clear skin, bright eyes and boast anti cancer qualities. The release of vitamin E from food requires bile, digestive enzymes from the pancreas and intestinal tract, and integration into micelles.

  • Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant
  • Vitamin D protects vitamins A and C, red blood cells and essential fatty acids from destruction

Mgs of Alpha-tocopherol per 100-gram serving.

  • RawAlmonds (26 mg)
  • Palm Kernel Oil (19 mg)
  • Flaxseed Oil (17 mg)
  • Raw Hazelnuts (17 mg)
  • Wild Salmon Roe (7 mg)

 

Vitamin K

  • Plays an essential role in blood clotting
  • Promotes bone health
  • Helps produce proteins for the blood, bones and kidneys

Vitamin K is also a group of vitamins which are fat soluble. The “K” in “vitamin K” stands for “koagulation,” the German word for blood clotting. Indeed it is best known for its blood clotting benefits as well as bone health. It is found in leafy greens, but remember it has to be eaten with fat to be absorbed my your body.

Vitamins K1 and K2 are not interchangeable after all: vitamin K1 more effectively supports blood clotting, while vitamin K2 more effectively ensures that calcium winds up in the bones and teeth where it supports health rather than in the soft tissues where it contributes to disease.The release of vitamin K from food requires bile, digestive enzymes from the pancreas and intestinal tract, and integration into micelles

 

Mcg of Vitamin K per 100-gram serving.
  • Cooked Kale (882 mcg)
  • Raw Swiss Chard (830 mcg)
  • Dandelion Greens (778 mcg)
  • Raw Radicchio (255 mcg)
  • Miso (23 mcg)

 

I hope I have shown clearly enough how various components of nutrition work together in the body, all in all I am trying to make the point that many pill form vitamin supplements are useless, because stuff just is not designed to be taken in isolation. When one eats real food, from quality sources, there is little need to pop it in the pill form, its all there already. I would like to make it clear that this is my own personal opinion on vitamin supplements and because all bodies are different, it might be the case the supplementation is working for you just fine 🙂

 

References;

European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) (2010). “Scientific opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to vitamin D and normal function of the immune system and inflammatory response (ID 154, 159), maintenance of normal muscle function (ID 155) and maintenance of normal cardiovascular function (ID 159) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006”. EFSA Journal 8 (2): 1468–85.doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2010.1468.