Types of water and fat soluble vitamins

Vitamins are essential nutrients your body needs in various amounts (mcg, mg, g) for various roles or functions in the human body. Vitamins are divided into two groups: water-soluble (B-complex and C) and fat-soluble (A, D, E and K). All vitamins need regular replacement in the body, water soluble vitamins are not stored as well as fat-soluble vitamins which are stored in the liver and fatty tissues, and are eliminated much more slowly than water-soluble vitamins.

What is the difference between fat soluble and water soluble vitamins?

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are not well stored; absorbed though the intestines and excess amounts are eliminated mainly in urine. We need a continuous supply of them in our diets. The major water-soluble vitamins are the B-complex group and vitamin C.

Water-soluble vitamins are easily destroyed or diminished during food storage or preparation. Proper storage and preparation of food can minimize vitamin loss. To reduce vitamin loss, refrigerate fresh produce, keep milk and grains away from strong light, steam cook and/or use the cooking water from vegetables to prepare soups.

Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in the presence of fats and are stored well; absorbed though the intestines and they are eliminated in feces. We need a continuous supply of them in our diets but usually at lower amounts than  water soluble vitamins. The major fat-soluble vitamins are  A, D, E and K.

The average intake of fat soluble vitamins is inadequate at best and dangerously low at worst–even among health circles. Low-fat, no-fat and vegan diets are woefully lacking in fat soluble vitamins.

Vitamin B12:

Most vegans consume enough B12 to avoid anaemia and nervous system damage, but many do not get enough to minimise potential risk of heart disease or pregnancy complications.  To get the full benefit of a vegan diet, vegans should do one of the following:

  • eat fortified B12 foods two or three times a day to get at least three micrograms (μg or mcg) a day or
  • take one B12 supplement daily providing at least 10 micrograms or
  • take a weekly B12 supplement providing at least 2000 micrograms.

Vitamin D2 or D3?
There are several forms of vitamin D, but the most common are ergocalciferol (vitamin D2) and cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) which are known together as calciferol.  

Vitamin D2 is not a truly natural form of the vitamin D.   Vitamin D2 is a plant-derived form of vitamin D, produced in the early 1920s through ultraviolet exposure of foods. This process was patented and licensed to pharmaceutical companies, which led to the development of a medicinal preparation of vitamin D2.  Vitamin D2 does not occur in any detectable quantities in humans. 

Dietary sources of vitamin D3, including egg yolk, fish oil and a number of plants. Vitamin D3, also is generated in the skin of animals from exposure to the sun.

Properly understanding what each vitamin is needed for and what can happen with overdoses or lack of is highly important, as it is with all vitamins, minerals and amino acids in the human body.

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