What Are Water-Soluble and Fat-Soluble Vitamins?

August 23, 2017

What Are Water-Soluble and Fat-Soluble Vitamins?

Dr. Mark Roth of the Cleveland Jewish News has recently featured in-depth articles analyzing nutritional supplements and the cases when they may be beneficial.

In his initial overview on the topic of vitamins, Dr. Roth stressed that generally most healthy people who consume a well-balanced and nutritious diet should absorb most of the vitamins that their bodies require simply from the foods they eat. 

He simplified the definition of vitamins, explaining vitamins are substances not produced within a person's body though required for normal metabolic function.

There are water-soluble vitamins like Vitamins B and C that typically do not build in toxic levels within the body and are excreted through urination. On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins like Vitamins A, D, E and K, Dr. Roth added, are not excreted and can build up to create toxicity and illness when taken in excess. In other words, the body needs less of fat-soluble vitamins to function and typically stores these vitamin types. 

But, Dr. Roth added that there are cases where vitamins may be helpful in supplementing a person's diet. These scenarios have included:

  • Individuals who may not have the financial means to purchase the most nutritional foods and suffer dietary deficiencies as a result. 
  • Those who are vegan or vegetarian who tend to have lower B12 reserves in their bodies due to their diet. 
  • People who often take antibiotics, which can cause vitamin absorption issues in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Individuals with a chronic health condition that can impede vitamin absorption like ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and liver diseases.  
  • Smokers and heavy drinkers of alcoholic beverages.
  • People battling cancer and/or undergoing cancer treatments like radiation and chemotherapy. 
  • A person fighting an infection.
  • Individuals with an overactive thyroid. 
  • Women who are menstruating, pregnant or breastfeeding. 
  • Those who work in vocations with extensive physical labor. 
  • Individuals who are psychologically and/or physically stressed.  
  • Young people who are undergoing growth spurts. 

Dr. Roth featured a few case studies in his follow up article in which vitamins have helped with particular health issues.  These cases have included:

  • A woman who was calcium and Vitamin D deficient. Her Vitamin D deficiency was the cause for her dropped calcium levels in her blood, which triggered numbness in her hands and an overall feeling of exhaustion. After six months of experiencing these symptoms and then taking Vitamin D3, most of her symptoms disappeared within less than a month.
  • A vegetarian man who doctors observed walked with an unbalanced and abnormal gait. His family reported he had become moody and was experiencing periods of dizziness and clumsiness. His blood work showed a deficiency in B12. After regularly taking B12, within four months, there was a marked improvement in his health. 
  • A senior citizen who developed visual problems and was diagnosed with macular-degeneration. Doctors prescribed a regimen of Vitamins A,C, and E, plus copper and zinc. 

Dr. Roth suggests before a person undergoes a vitamin regimen, they should seek the advice of their physician to determine potential vitamin deficiencies. Dr. Roth said physicians can work with their patients to suggest dietary adjustments and/or vitamin supplements that can help. 

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