Know your Vitamins Well: Fat-Soluble vs Water Soluble

A good intake of vitamins each day can bring us good health, energy, and rejuvenation. Even though vitamins taken though natural sources such as fruits and vegetables are much more beneficial as compared to vitamins taken through food supplements, sometimes the food we eat is not rich in vitamins. When it is not possible to get enough nutrition from your diet each day, it is always recommended to take vitamin supplements for good health. Vitamins taken either way are actually required by our bodies for good health and energy. Although, vitamins are necessary for our body and they are required in excessive quantities by our body in case of illness, the overdose of vitamins can be harmful than useful at times.

There are thirteen types of vitamins categorized into water soluble and fat soluble vitamins available to us. The detailed description of each type of vitamin is given below:

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins A, D, E, and K are fat soluble vitamins. Fat soluble vitamins can be stored by our body.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A, also called Retinol can be either taken in diet or synthesized in the liver by carotenoids. The most common sources of vitamin A are tomatoes, mangoes, carrots, orange, cabbage and green leafy vegetables. The animal sources of Vitamin A include butter, cheese, and fish liver oil.

Vitamin A is good for skin. It can treat psoriasis, acne and other skin diseases and is especially useful to heal burn injuries and help to develop new tissues. It prevents vision impairment and strengthens immune system. It is also useful in bone and teeth formation and in the synthesis of protein and glycogen. Vitamin A deficiency can cause eye related disorders such as night blindness, corneal inflammation, and blurred vision. Vitamin A deficiency can also cause various infections and can cause dry and rough skin problems such as hyperkeratosis. Vitamin A overdose can cause toxicity and can be so harmful that it can cause osteoporosis. Therefore, before taking vitamin A supplements, a doctor must be consulted.  

Vitamin D: Vitamin D, another fat-soluble vitamin is important for absorption of calcium and phosphorus by the body and thereby to maintain strong bones. It is also important to treat depression because it helps in the production of a neurotransmitter called serotonin, which is important for the emotional health of a person. D Vitamins can be obtained by the body through diet rich in Vitamin D such as soy milk, margarine, yeast, and other fungi's. It can also be made by body with the help of sunlight. It can be converted to an active hormone with the help of liver and kidney.

The deficiency of vitamin D can cause rickets and depression. The overdose of Vitamin D can be harmful and can cause poor appetite, nausea, weigh loss, constipation, weakness, confusions, and deposits of calcium in kidneys.
Vitamin E: Vitamin E, just like Vitamins A and D is a fat soluble vitamin and an important antioxidant. It is available in eight forms as tocopherols and tocotrienols. Among its eight different forms Alpha-Tocopherol is the most active form of Vitamin E maintained in the human body. Alpha-Tocopherol is a powerful antioxidant and an immune booster that protects body from damaging effect of free radicals and strengthens immune system. It also protects body from a number of chronic disorders, such as lupus, which is an autoimmune disease.

The food sources of Vitamin E are peanut, corn, asparagus, soybean, coconut, tomatoes, and carrots. Although the deficiency of vitamin E is rare, it can cause nervous system problems. The overdose of vitamin E can be harmful. It can cause blood clotting and an increased risk of hemorrhage in certain individuals.   

Vitamin K: Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation, which refers to blood clotting. It contains several proteins that are required for blood clotting. It is also important to maintain proper bone density and in the proper development of fetus in pregnant women. Vitamin K can be taken by food sources and is also synthesized by the body with the help of a friendly bacteria present in large intestine. The rich food sources of Vitamin K are green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, lettuce, and collard greens and cauliflower.

Vitamin K deficiency can lead to hemorrhages, Anemia, excessive bleedings, and birth defects such as shortened fingers, underdeveloped mouth and nose, and cupped ears. The overdose of vitamin K is rare. However, an overdose in certain cases can interfere with anticoagulant medication.

Water Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins B and C are water soluble vitamins and cannot be stored in the body because the excess intake of these vitamins is excreted through urine.
Vitamin C: Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid is a water soluble Vitamin, which is required  by our body to produce thyroid hormone and neurotransmitters in our body. Our body cannot synthesize Vitamin C and therefore we need to depend on external sources to get it. Some rich sources of vitamin C are citrus fruits, green pepper, and tomatoes, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, potatoes (with skin), papaya, and mango.

Vitamin C deficiency can cause various infections, cardiovascular diseases, birth defects, muscle aches, male infertility, and slower wound-healing. Severe Vitamin C deficiency can cause scurvy. Overdose of vitamin C can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, gas, and can reduce the levels of copper and essential nutrients in body and can also cause an increased risk of developing kidney stones.

Vitamin B: The B Vitamins forms a B Complex group of vitamins, which include vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and B12 also known as Thiamin, Riboflavin, Niacin, Panthothenic Acid, Pyridoxin. Folic acid, and Cobalamin respectively. All these vitamins are water soluble and perform important functions in our body such as metabolism of protein, fat, and carbohydrate in body and thereby energy production. They are also responsible for the maintenance of the health of various body parts such as skin, hair, eyes, and liver. The common sources of Vitamin B group of vitamins include liver, meats, pork, kidney, chicken, brown rice, whole grain, cereals, and peanuts. Vitamin B deficiency can cause diseases such as beriberi, anemia, dry and scaly skin, nervous system disorders, and heart diseases. The overdose of B complex vitamins are rare however in certain cases they can cause weakness, heart palpitation, insomnia, agitation, restlessness, sweating, difficulty breathing and even neurological disorders.