These days we have dietary advice and nutritional guidelines from all directions shoved at us. We should be eating 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, keep salt intake down, avoid trans fats, increase monounsaturated fats… What good will following these guidelines do for us, and what are we missing out on by avoiding them?
Over my next few blogs I will outline the health benefits of ensuring we have sufficient vitamins, minerals, fats… in our diet. What happens if we have too much (yes – that is possible!), not enough, and which foods do we get them from?
The subject of this week’s blog will be fat soluble vitamins.
So what the heck are fat soluble vitamins? Vitamins fall into two categories – water soluble and fat soluble. Fat soluble vitamins are absorbed by fats in the body and are stored – mainly – in the liver. These vitamins have a varied range of functions in the body, and are Vitamin A, D, E and K.
So where do we find these fat soluble vitamins? Yup – via an adequate intake of fruit and vegetable, but you can also find them in animal products – however, the main source is fruit and veg. It’s importable to note that your body cannot make vitamins itself. They have to be provided by the diet (food or supplements) – with the exception of vitamin D, which is manufactured via sunlight on the skin (but can also be obtained via diet).
So what do each of these vitamins do for us?
Vitamin A: Plays an important role in ensuring healthy eyes. Helps the body to fight infection. Also plays a role in bone development.
Vitamin D: Helps the body to absorb calcium and phosphate, ensuring that bones, teeth and muscles are kept healthy.
Vitamin E: Plays an important part in maintaining healthy skin and eyes, and strengthening of the immune system.
Vitamin K: Plays a vital role in blood clotting and ensuring that wounds heal properly.
The good news is that out of this group, only a deficiency in vitamin D is common in the UK – not really a surprise since the majority of Vit D comes from sunlight absorption and not our daily diet. Here are some of the symptoms to look out for:
- Poor immune system/ wounds slow to heal
- Fatique and Tiredness
- Hair Loss
- Muscle pain
- Bone pain
Be careful of thinking you can simply take a multi vitamin supplement to top up your vitamin intake – it is possible to take too much, and that can prove harmful. An excess of fat soluble vitamins can be toxic, and will interfere with liver function.
If you feel you could be suffering from a vitamin deficiency, your GP will be able to confirm either way, and suggest a suitable treatment if needed.
As always, any questions, let me know!