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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

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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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