Vitamins A, D, E and K belong to the fat soluble vitamin family. These vitamins are stored in adipose tissue (fat) and the liver and is one of the reasons they are called fat soluble. Fortunately, these vitamins are stored longer in your body more than the water soluble vitamins (B & C) and if consumed in too large of a quantity can become toxic. As a result, these nutrients are not ones that need to be consumed in abundance every day, but more so in small amounts to keep variety in the diet.
Vitamin A is important for vision, reproduction system and immune function and alike the following vitamins come in a variety of forms. (retinol, retinal, retinoic acid etc) Retinol is responsible for the structural integrity of a number of cells throughout the body. Retinoic acid is responsible for embryonic development especially for the eyes, ears, spinal cord and vertebrae during development.
The most commonly known function is for eyesight. Did your parents ever tell you the tale to eat your carrots so you can see better at night? Well its true! Retinol changes light to neural signals for vision. If you don’t consume enough, you will not be able to see as clearly!
Vitamin A is found abundantly in orange vegetables like carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, capsicum, tropical fruits, eggs, cheese and fish. Consuming a couple of these sources each day will provide you with enough vitamin A for good health.
Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, strong muscles, is an anti-inflammatory and assists in building a healthy immune system. It is a hormone that controls calcium levels in the blood, and is also vital for the absorption of calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphate and zinc in the gut. So if you are missing out on vitamin D, you may also be missing out on a number of other nutrients important for muscle contractions, good energy levels, sleep and bone health.
The easiest way to get Vitamin D synthesised is by direct sunlight! 10 minutes on the back and front of your arms and legs in summer and 20 minutes in winter. Vitamin D is also found in animal based products like eggs, fish, and dairy foods including butter or margarine.
If you spend the majority of the week inside working, and may only get a few minutes of sunshine a week especially in winter, take the time to get outside. Go for a walk or sit in the sun during your lunch break at work. On your days off make sure you spend some time outside!
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant. An antioxidant protects healthy cells in the body from being damaged by free radicals. Too many free radicals within the body can contribute to cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Good sources of Vitamin E include nuts especially walnuts, in vegetable oils, low fat/skim milk, eggs, wholegrains and leafy green vegetables. However when consuming nuts or oils, make sure you do not overdo it because they are still high in calories. Be wise with portion sizes throughout the day. 5 walnuts is a good portion size to help with vitamin E intake J
Vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting. Without enough vitamin K, small cuts can bleed for a long time or big bruises can occur from small injuries. Bruising in the most common characteristic I find, covering a person’s arms and legs. This can also be a sign of a lower iron intake, so be mindful that there could be a couple reasons to explain the bruising.
Vitamin K is found in most green vegies (broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, okra, brassica veggies, basil), mung beans, soy beans, dried fruit and olive oil. Dark green leafy vegies have so many good vitamins and minerals and should be consumed a couple times a day. Baby spinach is my favourite and I have probably 2-3 C of it a day!
The biggest tip I can give anyone, is make sure you are getting the variety of fruit, vegetables and good sources of lean meat and eggs with a few wholegrains. If you do this you will get what you need!