Organic compounds required by the body in minute quantities are known as vitamins. Vitamins are classified into two types; water soluble (B and C) and fat soluble (A, D, E, and K). As the name suggests, the former dissolves in water, while the latter dissolves in fats or lipids. When these fat soluble vitamins pass through the small intestine, they get absorbed by the fat globules present there. Bile salts play an important role in the absorption of these vitamins in the body. From here they enter the blood circulation. After they are stored in the body tissues, they stay there, and this is the reason why people tend to develop problems when these vitamins are consumed in excess. Also, their deficiency in the body causes various disorders.
List of Fat Soluble Vitamins
Improving vision, facilitating normal bone growth, and maintaining skin health are the important functions of this vitamin. Apart from this, it guards the body against free radicals and thereby works as an antioxidant. This may provide protection against cancer to a certain extent.
The body can derive it directly from various animal and dairy products such as eggs, milk, meat, and liver. It is available in the active form, and is known as retinol. Its other type, known as beta-carotene, can be found in vegetables and fruits. Beta-carotene gets converted into retinol once it enters the body.
Side-effects of Deficiency
Compared to developed countries, its deficiency is more common in developing countries. Xerophthalamia, an eye disorder can occur due to lack of vitamin A in the body. It affects the skin, and is not considered to be safe for pregnant women. Decreased immunity, dryness of skin, and growth problems are few other problems associated with its deficiency.
Large amounts of vitamin A during pregnancy could result in birth defects in the child. This is the reason why doctors advise against consuming a lot of dairy and animal products during pregnancy(high in vitamin A).
Vitamin D plays a vital role in the body by assisting in absorption and utilization of phosphorus and calcium. Other important functions include maintaining healthy teeth, bones and helping in the formation of cartilage.
Vitamin D is available in two forms; D2 and D3. Among these, Vitamin D2 can be obtained from foods such as liver oils, eggs, salmon, and mackerel. On the other hand, Vitamin D3 is manufactured in the body itself with the help of sunlight.
Side Effects of Deficiency
There are very few cases where deficiency of vitamin D is observed. Mostly bedridden people, people with dark skin, and obese people are affected by this deficiency. Effects of this include; cramps in muscles, marred growth, dental disorders, and pain in bones. It can also lead to other diseases like rickets (in children) and osteoporosis (in adults).
Excess of vitamin D in the body can lead to hypercalcemia, cardiovascular damage, weakening of bones, or renal damage.
The most essential function of vitamin E is to enhance the immune system. It is a strong antioxidant. It also helps in the synthesis of red blood cells in the body.
Vitamin E is found in large amounts in foods containing lot of unsaturated fatty acids. Some of these are almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, soya beans, prawns, wheat, and sunflower seeds.
Side Effects of Deficiency
Although rare, vitamin E deficiency can result in malfunctioning of the vascular, reproductive, and the nervous system. It has been observed that vitamin K deficiency arises due to fat malabsorption.
There are very few side effects of overconsumption of this vitamin. However, some common side effects include; fatigue, weakness in muscles, vision problems, headaches, and gastrointestinal diseases.
It is useful in building strong bones and prevention of various heart diseases. Also, it helps in the blood clotting process.
Microorganisms present in the intestine produce vitamin K for the body. It can be obtained from broccoli, spinach, cabbage, and other green leafy vegetables. Certain vegetable oils also have vitamin K in them.
Side effects of Deficiency
Deficiency of vitamin K is more common in newborn babies, as their intestines are incapable of producing it on their own. It can be treated by providing this vitamin through injections. Low levels of this vitamin can also lead to osteoporosis in adults.
There are negligible side effects of excess of vitamin K in the body.
Everyone should include foods rich in all these vitamins in their diet considering the various benefits associated with them.