What's the Difference Between Fat Soluble Vitamins and Water-Soluble Vitamins?
Our bodies need 13 essential vitamins. We get most of those through the foods we eat. Supplements are helpful for bolstering our intake of vitamins to ensure our bodies function well and remain healthy. Vitamins are divided into two basic categories: they are either fat soluble or water soluble. The primary difference between the two has to do with how they are absorbed and excreted by the body. It’s helpful to know more about water soluble and fat-soluble vitamins.
Why do I need both water soluble and fat-soluble vitamins?
As the term suggests, water soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are quickly absorbed into tissues. They are ready for immediate use. Fat soluble vitamins are absorbed into the bloodstream. When the body is deficient in vital vitamins, it can experience many symptoms including:
- Inadequate fat absorption
- Acute diarrhea
- Reduced immune function
- Night blindness
- Liver disorders
Life Cycles of Fat Soluble and Water-Soluble Vitamins
Since water soluble vitamins are absorbed and used quickly by the body, it’s important to include regular doses of these types of vitamins in your diet. You cannot get too much of them, and the body won’t store them for later use. If you do get excess amounts, they are excreted through the urine. Essential water-soluble vitamins include the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C.
Fat soluble vitamins, on the other hand, are absorbed by fat globules traveling through the small intestines. These vitamins are then circulated throughout the body by the bloodstream. Unlike water-soluble vitamins, they are stored in the body if they are not in use. They are stored in either fat tissues or the liver. The body needs only small amounts to maintain good health. Examples of fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K.
Health Benefits of the Different Types of Vitamins
The B-complex vitamins and other water-soluble varieties help maintain the function of the nervous system. They also help promote good vision, aid in digestion, and help keep skin healthy. Vitamin C helps the body by:
- Helping with iron absorption
- Helping synthesize collagen
- Boost wound healing
- Aid bone formation
- Improve overall immune function
Vitamins A and D are fat soluble vitamins that pay an essential role in healthy vision and bone and tooth formation. But the digestive and immune systems also benefit from the consumption of Vitamins A and D. Vitamin E helps maintain healthy red blood cells and helps fight infections. Vitamin K is helpful by helping strengthen bones and preventing blood clotting.
Where do we get fat soluble and water-soluble vitamins?
To get the greatest benefit it’s important to make sure your diet includes a variety of nutritious foods. For instance, if you need more Vitamin C, eat more fruits like kiwis and oranges. The B-complex vitamins are found in chicken, milk, cheese, eggs, soy milk, almond milk, and fortified foods like cereal. Fat soluble vitamins like A and K are found in foods like eggs, carrots, spinach, pumpkin, and broccoli.
Roles and Sources of Water-Soluble Vitamins
There are nine water-soluble vitamins, and they include the aforementioned B-complex and Vitamin C. These function in a variety of ways in the body. Remember that they are not stored, so eating a well-balanced diet consistently helps your intake of these essential vitamins. Here are their primary roles and their food sources.
- Thiamine (Vitamin B1) – Thiamin is beneficial for converting food into energy, supporting cellular energy production, and supporting the nervous system function. It is found in whole grains, fortified grain products, meat, fish, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B2) – Riboflavin helps with converting food to energy. It is found in eggs, organ meats, lean meats, low-fat milk, green vegetables, and fortified breads and cereals.
- Niacin (Vitamin B3) – Niacin helps maintain healthy nervous system function and helps convert food into energy. It is found in animal foods, some types of fish, legumes, grains, nuts, and fortified foods.
- Pantothenic Acid (Vitamin B5) – Pantothenic Acid also helps convert food to energy and supports many body functions including the body’s natural stress response.
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B6) – Vitamin B6 helps support healthy metabolism and red blood cell formation. It is present in poultry, organ meat, fish, avocados, non-citrus fruits, and starchy vegetables like potatoes.
- Biotin (Vitamin B7) – Biotin helps convert fat, protein, and carbohydrates into energy. It also helps support healthy hair and skin while supporting nervous system function. It is found in meat, organ meats, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and a few vegetables.
- Folate (Vitamin B9) – Folate is found naturally in foods. It plays an essential role in the development of a baby’s nervous system, so it’s important for women of childbearing age to include plenty of it in their diets. Folate is also important for proper nervous system function and helps to convert food into cellular energy.
- Cobalamin (Vitamin B12) – Like other B-vitamins, B12 helps support a healthy nervous system function and the formation of red blood cells. Those who observe a vegan or vegetarian diet often lack enough vitamin B12 as it is found mostly in animal sources. Beef liver, fish, poultry, eggs, clams, milk, and nutritional yeast contain vitamin B12. It is also found in fortified cereals and other foods.
- Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) – Vitamin C has antioxidant properties. It helps keep the skin healthy and helps with the absorption of iron. Vitamin C is also beneficial for helping to support the immune system. Citrus fruits, cantaloupe, kiwi, strawberries, baked potatoes, green peppers, and broccoli contain Vitamin C.
Roles and Sources of Fat-soluble Vitamins
There are four fat soluble vitamins including vitamins A, D, E, and K. They each function in different ways and play important roles in the body. They are stored in the body’s fatty tissue. The body absorbs them more easily when there is dietary fat present. Here are the four fat-soluble vitamins, their roles and function.
- Vitamin A – Vitamin A plays an essential role in healthy vision and eye function. It helps support the immune system and healthy skin. It is found in beef liver, some types of fish, green leafy vegetables, other green, yellow, and orange fruits and vegetables. It’s also in dairy products.
- Vitamin D – The body makes vitamin D in response to exposure to sunlight. It helps support healthy nerves and muscles and helps with the absorption of calcium which is necessary for healthy bones and teeth. Foods that contain vitamin D include tuna, fish liver oils, egg yolks, mushrooms, and cheese. Because there are few foods that contain Vitamin D naturally, many foods are fortified with this essential nutrient.
- Vitamin E – The antioxidant properties of vitamin E helps support a healthy immune system and neutralizes free radicals in the body. It is essential for healthy cells including those in the heart. It is found in vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.
- Vitamin K – Vitamin K is vital for blood clotting and supporting healthy bones. It is found in green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, meat, eggs, soybeans, and cheese.
Getting Adequate Amounts of Fat Soluble and Water-Soluble Vitamins
The body needs both water soluble and fat-soluble vitamins to ensure all the body systems function properly. While most of the vitamins needed for body function are contained in common foods, many people still have deficiencies. At Envura you get scientifically backed vitamins that benefit your health. Our vitamins are a great way to help build yourself a life of longevity. Get what you need every month, delivered directly to your front door without the hassle of going to the confusing supplement aisle.