Fat Soluable Vitamins

There are four fat-soluable vitamins and they are: Vitamin A (Beta Carotene or Retinol), Vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K.

These vitamins are soluable in fat and are stored in the body. For this reason, an excessive amount of these vitamins can be toxic.

Vitamin A (Beta-Carotene or Retinol)

There are two forms of Vitamin A, Retinol and Beta-Carotene. Retinol is found only in foods of animal origin and Beta-Carotene is found in foods of both plant and animal origins. Vitamin A is necessary for good night vision, healthy skin and linings of the mouth, nose and throat, digestive and urinary tracts. It is also important for helping the body resist infection, promoting growth and maintaining teeth, hair, bones and glands. Deficiency symptoms include night and glare blindness, permanent blindness and rough, dry skin. Good sources of Vitamin A are liver, dark green leafy and yellow vegetables (broccoli, caroots, winter squash), apricots, cantaloupe, milk, cheese, butter, fortified margarine and eggs.

Taking large doses of Vitamin A supplements can be dangerous. Symptoms of toxicity include headaches, vomiting, peeling of skin, swelling, skin changes, loss of body hair and enlargement of liver and spleen.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is important for the body's absorption of calcium and phosphorus which are the two minerals needed to keep bones and teeth healthy. Deficiency symptoms include soft bones, bowed legs, poor teeth and rickets. The main source of Vitamin D is found in fortified milk; however, fish liver oils, egg yolk, salmon, tuna and sardines also contain this vitamin. Vitamin D is also produced by the body with sunlight and is often referred to as the "Sunshine Vitamin". Vitamin D requirements can be met by sunlight alone or a combination of food and sun. However, after a suntan is established, Vitamin D production through the sun is stopped.

Excess amounts of this vitamin can cause loss of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and kidney damage.

Vitamin E (Tocopherol)

Vitamin E protects tissue fats and Vitamin A and Vitamin C from destructive oxidation. It also helps maintain the body's cell membranes. Deficiency symptoms of Vitamin E, although extremely rare, are edema, irritability and anemia. Deficiency mostly occurs in premature infants. Vitamin E is found in polyunsaturated fats such as oils and margerines, whole-grain cereals, wheat germ, leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds and beans. It is added to some foods as a preservative to prolong shelf life.

Vitamin E is relatively nontoxic; however, too much of it can cause fatigue, headaches, dizziness and blurred vision accompanied by nausea.

Vitamin K (Menadione)

Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation. Deficiency symptoms are slow blood clotting and hemorrhagic disease in a newborn. Vitamin D is found in dark leafy vegetables, soybean oil, other vegetable oils, wheat bran, tomatoes and cauliflower.

It is relatively nontoxic but synthetic forms at high doses may cause jaundice. More than 500 micrograms is not recommended.