We talk quite a bit about vitamins because of the important role they play in keeping your body healthy and functioning – from immune system and muscle function, to heart and blood health, and even eye health. When it comes to getting your essential vitamins – eating or supplementing – it’s helpful to understand how your body absorbs them best, so that you get the most bang for your buck when you’re chowing on that broccoli (vitamin c) or forking those scrambled eggs (vitamin d).
The Difference Between Fat-Soluble & Water-Soluble Vitamins
When you hear soluble, think “dissolve,” aka break down for your body to use. As described by the National Cancer Institute (NCI):
Fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fats and oils. When absorbed along with fats in the diet, these vitamins are stored in the body’s fatty tissue, and then used. They come from plant and animal foods or dietary supplements.
Water-soluble vitamins dissolve in water. These vitamins are carried to the body’s tissues – but are not stored in the body – and are found in plant and animal foods or dietary supplements; They must be taken in daily, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI).
Fat-Soluble & Water-Soluble Vitamins: Which are which?
Fat-soluble vitamins and some foods that contain them are:
- Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, spinach, apricots, cantaloupe, liver, egg yolks and fortified milk
- Vitamin D: Eggs, and fatty fish such as sockeye salmon, mackerel, sardines, and grass-fed, fortified dairy, such as milk and yogurt
- Vitamin E: Spinach, almonds, sunflower seeds, avocados, shrimp, rainbow trout, olive oil, broccoli, butternut squash
- Vitamin K: Dark leafy greens, scallions, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage
Water-soluble vitamins and some foods that contain them are:
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, bell peppers, guavas, dark and leafy green vegetables, kiwi, broccoli, and strawberries
- Vitamin B12: Meat, fish, shellfish, poultry, eggs, and dairy products
- Vitamin B9 (folate/folic acid): Beans, lentils, spinach, asparagus, lettuce, and avocado, broccoli, tropical fruits, and oranges
- Vitamin B3 (niacin): Lean meats, poultry, fish, organ meats, peanuts and peanut butter
- Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): poultry, fish, soybeans, nuts, peas and bananas
Be advised that micronutrient doses and levels needed can vary per person, and there is such a thing as overconsumption, as everyone is unique, with a different biochemistry. Using mega-doses of multivitamins or supplements is not recommended either, according to Colorado State University.
If you want to read more about micronutrients and their many benefits, you can check out 7 Important Minerals and the Signs that You Could Be Deficient, and 4 Vitamins & the Important Signs that You Could Be Deficient.
Delicious Ways to Eat and Absorb Your Vitamins
Like we mentioned, fat-soluble vitamins dissolve in fats and oils, which make it easier for your body to absorb the nutrients your body needs. Some ways you can incorporate the practice of pairing your fat-soluble vitamins with fats could include:
- Scrambled eggs with butter
- Baked sweet potato with a nut butter
- Coconut oil on roasted veggies
- Apricots and a handful of almonds
- Olive oil drizzled on steamed broccoli
Remember that different types of fats have different impacts on your body/total health; We’ve quickly decoded them here, in “Why Fat Doesn’t Make You Fat (and what kinds to eat)”.
According to the UMMC, vegetables and fruits lose vitamins over time during storage, so the fresher the vegetables are, the higher their vitamin content will be. Also, water-soluble vitamin content of your food is best maintained when if you eat the fruits and vegetables raw or cooked for the shortest possible time with the minimum amount of water – you could also steam these foods to help minimize losses.
How WellnessFX Can Help
You can find out your levels of some of these important vitamins, like D, B9, and B12, and their potential risk factors that come with deficiency, with a WellnessFX Baseline test. Post blood draw, you can even discuss the results or create actionable steps with a WellnessFX practitioner. Need to supplement? Don’t forget that if you’re a WellnessFX member,we now offer direct access to ThorneFX supplements.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.