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More about vitamins - fat soluble vitamins

vitamins; amino acid; vitamin A; vitamin B; vitamin C; vitamin D; vitamin E; vitamin K; fat soluble; water soluble; food; retinol; germs; calciferol; body; tocopherol; anti-oxidant; fat ;


The word vitamin means vital to life.

All plants and animals need vitamins but only plants can make all the vitamins they need. Humans can make vitamin D, using sunlight, and Niacin (say ny-ass-in) from an amino-acid in protein called tryptophan (say trip-toe-fan). Vitamin K is made by bacteria (germs) inside our gut.  These germs are useful to have!  We have to get all the other vitamins from our food.

Some vitamins A, D, E and K are fat soluble. That means that they will hang around in your body for a while.

Other vitamins, including C and the B group vitamins, are water soluble which means that they can be washed out of your system so they need to be replaced often. You can find out about vitamin C and the B group vitamins in the topic 'Water soluble vitamins'.

This topic is about the fat soluble vitamins

Vitamin A (retinol) (say 're-tin-ol')

eyesightThis vitamin got its scientific name because it is so important to eyes and eyesight. (The retina is part of your eye.)

Vitamin A is needed to give us healthy eyes, colour vision and night vision. Vitamin A and the chemicals it is made of are a yellow colour.

Vitamin A is also very important in helping us to grow and to stay healthy. It is needed by the immune system, which fights germs and stops cancers from growing.

dairyIt helps us to grow properly and keeps our skin healthy. It also helps with looking after the mucous membranes of the respiratory, digestive and urinary tracts.

In other words it helps keep all our tubes to do with breathing, eating, digesting and getting rid of waste in good working order. It helps keep the insides nice and slippery so that everything can get to where it's going without getting stuck!

Getting too much Vitamin A is unhealthy because it collects in the liver and can harm it, and it can do damage to other parts of the body (including the skin and bones).

Where do you get it?

  • vegetableOrange and yellow fruits and vegetables (like carrots, sweet potato and pumpkin) and green leafy vegetables.
  • Milk and cheese.
  • Egg yolk (that is why egg yolk is yellow).
  • Liver, fish oils.

Vitamin D (calciferol) (say 'cal-si-fer-ol') 

This sounds a bit like calcium doesn't it? Well that's because it helps calcium in its job of making strong, healthy bones and teeth.

Where do you get it?

  • Sunshine acts on chemicals just under the surface of your skin to make Vitamin D. But you don't need much sunlight for this, so remember to Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide when the UV reading is over 3!
    sun smart

It also comes in some foods such as:

  • Tuna, sardines and salmon.
  • Margarines (vitamins added)
  • Milk, butter and cheese.
  • Eggs

Vitamin E (tocopherol) (say 'toe-coff-er-ol') 

Vitamin E helps vitamin A and all the B group vitamins to work. It is an anti-oxidant, which means that it goes round the body battling against some fats that could damage the body. These are the fats that stick onto the walls of blood vessels and cause heart disease and some strokes.

Unfortunately it gets used up pretty quickly, so you have to make sure that you keep up your supply of E every day. It's a bit like sending in fresh soldiers to the battle.

Where do you get it?

  • oils and nutsVegetable oils and some margarines.
  • Wheat germ.
  • Nuts and seeds.

Vitamin K 

Vitamin K is very important in helping your blood to clot if you are bleeding and it also makes proteins used for healthy bones and tissues.

Where do you get it?

  • Leafy green vegetables like spinach, broccoli and cabbage.
  • Liver.
  • Bugs in the bowel make it for you too.

Well those are the fat soluble Vitamins and you can see that they all do very important jobs in your body.

See our topic on 'Water soluble vitamins' to find out how they work and where to get them. Also see our topic on 'Vitamins and minerals'.

‘Go for 2 & 5 website’
Here you can find out about the benefits of fruit and vegies, nifty ways to get more fruit and vegies into your day, plus some super simple tasty recipes.

Dr Kate says:

Dr Kate
"If you eat a balanced diet you should be getting all the vitamins your body needs.

Sometimes if you've been sick for a while your doctor may advise you to take some vitamin tablets to boost you up a bit."

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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