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Vitamins: Their Functions and Sources - Topic Overview

Fat-soluble vitamins

Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the body's cells and are not excreted as easily as water-soluble vitamins. They do not need to be consumed as often as water-soluble vitamins, although adequate amounts are needed. If you take too much of a fat-soluble vitamin, it could become toxic. Your body is especially sensitive to too much vitamin A from animal sources (retinol) and too much vitamin D. A balanced diet usually provides enough fat-soluble vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins
Nutrient Function Sources

Vitamin A (and its precursor*, beta-carotene)

*A precursor is converted by the body to the vitamin.

Needed for vision, healthy skin and mucous membranes, bone and tooth growth, immune system health

Vitamin A from animal sources (retinol): fortified milk, cheese, cream, butter, fortified margarine, eggs, liver

Beta-carotene (from plant sources): Leafy, dark green vegetables; dark orange fruits (apricots, cantaloupe) and vegetables (carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes, pumpkin)

Vitamin D

Needed for proper absorption of calcium; stored in bones

Egg yolks, liver, fatty fish, fortified milk, fortified margarine. When exposed to sunlight, the skin can make vitamin D.

Vitamin E

Antioxidant; protects cell walls

Polyunsaturated plant oils (soybean, corn, cottonseed, safflower); leafy green vegetables; wheat germ; whole-grain products; liver; egg yolks; nuts and seeds

Vitamin K

Needed for proper blood clotting

Leafy green vegetables and vegetables in the cabbage family; milk; also produced in intestinal tract by bacteria

This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: January 25, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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