Fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K are commonly found in foods containing fat. These are called fat soluble because they dissolve in fat and require the presence of fat for absorption. When you consume foods rich in these vitamins, the nutrients that are not utilized are stored in the fatty tissues of your body. Isn't it kind of comforting to know that the little love handle above your hip is also a store house for certain vitamins? Being that these vitamins can be stored, they are not needed in the diet every day.
Toxicity and Supplementation
Toxic levels of vitamins A, D, E, and K from foods is very rare. However, large doses of these vitamins taken in supplemental form can accumulate and be toxic in ultra-high amounts. Oftentimes, the misconception that "if a little is good, a lot is better" can get people in trouble by taking too high a dosage of supplemental vitamins. As a result of this, it is always a good idea to take any supplements only under the recommendation and supervision of a health professional.
In addition to the risk of too much resulting in toxicity, supplements often affect the body differently than their whole food counterpart. When you buy supplements, nutrients are isolated and separated from the whole foods (fractionated), and most are synthetic (man-made or artificial). These unnatural substances cannot hold a candle to their whole food counterparts and lack the synergy that can be found in whole foods.
In certain conditions supplementation is absolutely indicated, but supplements can never be a replacement for dietary sources. When you eat whole, real foods, you are not just getting one vitamin or mineral, you are getting many nutrients along with fiber, protein, antioxidants, and other beneficial compounds essential for health. You can think of whole foods as vessels for a beautiful, synergistic dance that goes on between the nutrients. Often, one nutrient will need another for it to be properly absorbed, like the fat soluble vitamins for instance. If Vitamin A, D, E, or K is taken as a supplement without fat, it will be poorly absorbed and lack other constituents that enhance its utilization in the body. Again, sometimes supplementation is necessary, but whenever possible, reach for a whole food over synthetic supplementation.
Read through each of the fat-soluble vitamins above to make sure you are getting enough of them in your diet!