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

What is the difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins?
Mar 14, 2017

All vitamins are essential nutrients that our bodies require to maintain good health. They are broken down into two categories; water-soluble and fat-soluble. While the specific amount your body requires of each vitamin will differ, they are all equally important and necessary for your optimal health.

Water-soluble vitamins

Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water and are not stored in the body. These include vitamin C and all of the vitamin B complex (B1-thiamin, B2-riboflavin, B3-niacin, B5, B6, B12, Biotin, Folic Acid). For example, if you eat an orange, your body breaks down that orange into all of its nutrients, including carbohydrates for energy, vitamins and minerals for hormones, growth, tissue repair, and other body functions. The vitamin C from the orange gets dissolved in the water circulating in your body which then gets delivered to the cells that need it. Once your body uses up all the vitamin C it needs, the unused amount is then sent to your kidneys to get released from your body when you urinate.[1]

Fat-soluble vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in the fat in our bodies. These are stored in our fat tissues and are not excreted. These vitamins include A, D, E, and K. Because these stay in our bodies for longer periods of time, their jobs are more long-term, however as they do their work, your stored up bank account of vitamins decreases[2]. Taking these vitamins on a daily basis ensures that your body functions efficiently. For example, vitamin D is essential for maintaining strong and healthy bones, your body pulls the vitamin D from its stored amount for those bones on a daily basis, therefore your stored amount gets used up, if you do not replenish it your body can become deficient and lack the amount needed to keep you and your bones healthy.

When it comes to vitamin D, mother nature might have known that we cannot always be in sunshine! Those who live in northern latitudes can only make vitamin D in our skin during periods of direct summer sunshine. Conveniently, we have the ability to keep a reserve stash of vitamin D for the cold, darker days when we are not able to make vitamin D on the spot.

Staying healthy

The best way to make sure you get all the vitamins you need is to eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, and lean protein throughout the day. The best source of vitamin D, however, is the sun, which can be tricky during the colder months and if you live in higher latitudes. So when it comes to keeping up a healthy supply of this one you want to try to eat salmon, tuna, mushrooms, fortified milk, and eggs. Here are some recipes to try. Diet alone may still not be enough when it comes to vitamin D, so check out the Ddrops family of products and take a daily supplement.

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About the author:

Brigitte Zeitlin | MPH, RD, CDN

Brigitte Zeitlin, MPH, RD is a registered dietitian-nutritionist and owner of BZ Nutrition, a private nutrition counseling practice. She has been featured in Us Weekly, Women’s Health, SELF, and Well+Good. Become a client and work with Brigitte by visiting bznutritionny.com.

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