Fat-soluble vitamins versus water-soluble vitamins

Vitamins have specific and essential functions in the body though required in very few quantities. Many functions in the body are dependent upon the vitamins and needed for the body to remain healthy. There is a total of thirteen vitamins that are needed by the body. They are- vitamin A, thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, biotin, vitamin B6, vitamin B12, folate, vitamin C, vitamin D, and vitamin K. Some of them are essential vitamins that cannot be synthesized within the body completely or are very less than the required amount. One of the major classification of vitamins is based on their solubility. They are grouped into water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins. As the name states, the former gets dissolved in water while the latter can dissolve in compounds that are non-polar, in lipids, and fats. Their solubility marks their metabolism and excretion. Various vitamins fall under each group. Both water-soluble vitamins and fat-soluble vitamins are required by the body in appropriate amounts. Each type of vitamin affects different functions of the body, such as vitamin D regulates the calcium metabolism for bones and muscles.

Multivitamin supplements are used by many people for compensating for nutritional vitamin deficiency. The solubility of the vitamins also plays a vital role in their storage and function in the body. The basic classification of vitamins can be done based on their solubility. Some of the vitamins are fat-soluble, while some are water-soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins are- vitamin A, D, E, and K. The remaining nine vitamins are water-soluble. The water-soluble vitamins are easily dissolved in the plasma and also can easily be excreted through the urine. This is the reason that the urine can be taken as a sample for the test for these vitamins. They are easily eliminated from the body; therefore, their regular intake is necessary for preventing their deficiency. The fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed by the lipids from the intestines.

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Fat-soluble vitamins
As the name suggests, those vitamins that are soluble in fat are called fat-soluble vitamins. They are vitamin A, D, E, and K. Chylomicrons carry these vitamins into the bloodstream. The fat-soluble vitamins are usually seen in fat-rich foods like eggs, liver, beef, fish, and milk products. As the vitamins cannot be easily excreted, they are preserved in the liver for future use. Therefore, their consumption should be limited; otherwise, the accumulation of excess vitamins in the body can cause toxicity of vitamins called avitaminosis. All four vitamins that are soluble in fat have different benefits.

Vitamin A: This vitamin is essential for proper vision and bone and tooth development.

Vitamin D: It helps in the accumulation of minerals like calcium and phosphorous in the bones and teeth.

Vitamin E: It acts as an antioxidant and keeps the red blood corpuscles (RBCs) healthy, and also fights infection.

Vitamin K: It helps in blood clotting and maintains the health of the bones.

Water-soluble vitamins
As the name itself says, those vitamins that are soluble in water are known as water-soluble vitamins. The B-complex like thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, B-6, biotin, folate, B-12, and vitamin C are water-soluble. These vitamins are soluble in the blood also and thus are excreted through the urine readily; thus, excess of the B-complex and vitamin C does not cause any remarkable harm. However, some of them have very dangerous effects on accumulation. Most of these can be obtained from green leafy vegetables and fruits. Due to their solubility in the water, they are easily absorbed by the tissues. However, the drawback lies in the same reason that they cannot be stored in the body and thus the consumption must be regular to compensate for its needs. Vitamins have many functions in the body, as discussed:

Vitamin B1 (thiamine): It aids in better functioning of the nerves and release of energy from the foods.

Vitamin B2 (riboflavin): This vitamin helps in maintaining good vision and healthy skin. It also helps in the functioning of vitamin B3.

Vitamin B3 (niacin): It helps in metabolic functions like digestion and helps the enzymes function properly.

Vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid): This vitamin helps in the formation of many hormones.

Vitamin B6 (pyridoxine): It helps produce insulin and hemoglobin and the metabolism of the protein.

Vitamin B7 (biotin): This vitamin helps in the metabolism of the carbohydrate, fats and proteins and release of the energy from the food.

Vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid): This is a very important vitamin for protein metabolism and the formation of RBCs. This vitamin is mandatorily prescribed to pregnant ladies to avoid neural tube defects.

Vitamin B12 (cobalamin): This helps in maintaining the nervous system.

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid): This vitamin aids in improving immunity and healing. It also has many other functions.

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