You’ve probably heard of “fat-soluble” vitamins in the past, and you may well have wondered what that’s about. After all, we’re all told that “fat” is the enemy, right? Of course, it’s more complex than that, and Vitamins A, D, E and K are some of the most complex nutritional elements of all. We need them to ensure our cells function properly, that our bones stay strong, and that our skin has a healthy glow.
We also need to make sure we consume them with the right kinds of fat.
Let’s start from the top
So, what does it mean for a vitamin to be "fat-soluble"? To understand that, you first need to learn about the other type of vitamins. Water-soluble vitamins, such as C and B, run through your body via its fluids. Anything your body doesn’t immediately need is removed by the body’s natural processes.
Fat-soluble vitamins, meanwhile, hang around. They settle into special reserves (most prominently in the liver and fatty tissue, and remain there as a resource for the next time your body needs them. This means that if you’ve got a healthy store-up of those vitamins, you can go through a lean time without developing a deficiency.
And, as you’ll see below, you’ll want to make sure you never actually end up with an empty dam of these vitamins. They’re invaluable for your quality of life.
Vitamin A: The Visionary Vitamin
When people joke about people who eat carrots being able to “see in the dark,” that’s because of the Vitamin A that is in those tasty roots. There is an element of truth in it, too. You might not develop infrared vision or be able to see like it was daylight, but Vitamin A DOES boost your vision, especially in low-light conditions. It also plays a vital role in keeping your skin and mucous membranes (like those in your nose and throat) healthy.
The best sources of Vitamin A come from two sources: retinoids and carotenoids. Retinoids are found in animal-based foods like liver, eggs, and dairy products. This is a vegan-friendly Vitamin, however, because Vitamin A also comes in any number of colourful fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes, spinach, and mangoes. Your typical box of Good & Fugly is going to have a great dose of Vitamin A in it.
In fact, the biggest problem with Vitamin A is that it’s actually possible to overdose on it because it’s difficult to stop munching down on good carrot sticks. If you’re not eating too much fat (and, obviously, you want to control intake there), then you’ll want to make sure you eat a balanced range of fruit and veg, and not go overboard on the Vitamin A options.
Vitamin D: The Sunshine Vitamin
Vitamin D’s an interesting one, because the best source of it is the sun. Yes, your body naturally produces it when your skin is exposed to sunlight. This vitamin is vital for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as it helps your body absorb calcium and phosphorus. It also plays a role in immune function and can contribute to a sunny mood.
In fact, for people who live very far north and have the “24-hour night” during winter, one of the biggest concerns is where they’ll get their Vitamin D from, because if you go a prolonged time without it, you’re in for a bad time. Thankfully that’s not an issue for us here in Australia.
While sunlight is the best natural source of Vitamin D, if you do happen to find yourself rugging up in the depths of the Alaskan winter, you can also find it in certain foods like fatty fish (salmon, mackerel), fortified dairy products, and egg yolks. Vegans are in trouble and, in all seriousness, should make sure they’re getting enough sunlight because their diet’s going to be lacking this vitamin.
Vitamin E: The Antioxidant Ally
Vitamin E is a bit of a warrior vitamin, given that one of its most important roles is to move against free radicals and protect the body from harm from these little monsters. Vitamin E also protects your cells from oxidative stress. If Disney were to make a movie about the inner workings of the body, Vitamin E would be wearing the Captain America suit.
It's also essential for maintaining healthy skin and eyes, so you’ll look as good as you feel when you get enough Vitamin E.
Vitamin E is abundant in various foods, including nuts (like almonds and sunflower seeds), vegetable oils (such as wheat germ, sunflower, and safflower oil), and green leafy vegetables (like spinach and broccoli).
The biggest thing you need to watch out for with Vitamin E is that its sources are often high in fats, so moderation is key here.
Vitamin K: The Clotting Commander
It’s never pleasant when we get a cut, but it would be so much worse were it not for the work of this vitamin in causing blood to clot. It also plays a secondary role in keeping us healthy by regulating calcium.
You’ll find Vitamin K in all kinds of Fugly treats, including leafy greens (like kale and spinach), broccoli, Brussel sprouts, and, additionally, some vegetable oils (like soybean and canola oil).
This one’s a good and easy vitamin to keep in regulation, as it doesn’t require you to eat particularly fatty foods, and it’s easy to get a good dose from your typical stirfry or salad. Just make sure you actually eat the sides, and you’ll be right.
And now you’re ready to stay regular with fat-soluble vitamins!
With the only possible exception being Vitamin D for people that live in dark places, all four of these fat-soluble vitamins are in abundant supply, and relatively inexpensive, since they can be found in a broad range of fruits, vegetables, and basic oils. The Good & Fugly boxes will basically have you covered.
There’s no need to turn to supplements (which don’t really work anyway). Just eat well, in regulation portions, and make sure you’ve got variety in your diet and you’re covered for these vitamins. If nothing else, this is a good excuse to go on some culinary adventures and experience a wide range of different foods and recipes!