How your ‘low-fat’ diet is stopping micronutrient absorption.

There’s a couple of ways to get micro nutrients into your diet. Through water-soluble vitamins, fat-soluble vitamins or a plethora of other methods.

Water soluble vitamins are, quite simply, vitamins that can dissolve in water and absorb into the blood stream. Imagine the multivitamin a lot of us take, always taken with water which then allows for the absorption of these vitamins and minerals into our bodies. Examples of water soluble vitamins are Vitamin C (most vital for immune function, from oranges) and all vitamin B-complex variations.

Fat soluble vitamins and minerals are the opposite and react very similarly to oil in water – they don’t dissolve! As a result, vitamins within these supplements or foods containing them cannot be aborbed into the body without a source of fat.

These vitamins are:

  • Vitamin A: important for vision maintenance, body growth, hair growth, immune function and reproductive function. The main sources of Vitamin A are fish oil, butter and animal fats.
  • Vitamin D: Important for bone maintenance (circulating calcium round the body) and more immune system function. Vitamin D is produced when the Sun’s UVB rays interact with a molecule (7-DHC) in the skin. Overexposure to sunlight has been proven to destroy the vitamin once produced! The main dietry source of Vitamin D is Fish oil supplements and oily fishes. Even though vitamin D is produced by the sun, it can nonly be absorbed through a carrier fat source.
  • Vitamin E: A powerful anti-oxidant which protects our bodies and cells from premature aging as well as damage by free radicals. The main source of vitamin E is vegetable oil, seeds and nuts.
  • Vitamin K: This vitamin is important to blood clotting. Without vitamin K our bodies wouldn’t be able to clot the blood in order to prevent bleeding to death. You’d essentially have the ability to then die from a papercut. The ‘k’ stands for koagulation (clotting). Vitamin K exists in two forms (k1 and k2). K1 is mainly found in plant sourced foods, parsley is the most concentrate. K2 is found in animal sourced foods although in much lower concentration than K1.

 

With the exception of Vitamin D, all the other vitamins are easily attained from a varied diet of containging nuts, seeds, vegetables, fish and eggs. This is why you hear so many health professionals advise a varied diet, it’s not just stupid buzz words, we actually need the variety of vitamins and minerals to maintain healthy body function.

In order for your body to use and absorb these vitamins and minerals however, they must be eaten with some form of fat. Especially if you’re taking supplements of these vitamins. A simple reccomendation is to drizzle a bit of olive oil over your food, or even cook with coconut oil. The fatty oil acts as a substance to allow breakdown of vitamins and minerals for absorption into your body.

The good thing however is that these vitamins are profound in fatty foods such as oils, dairies, and animal fats anyway. When you remove these foods from your diet you’re actively agreeing to remove a substantial amount of essential vitamins from your diet that otherwise may not be produced by the body.

In order for your body to use and absorb these vitamins and minerals however, they must be eaten with some form of fat.

But you can’t just go ahead and over indulge on multi vitamins and think that solves the problem. It will do to a degree but then arises the problem of absorption due to no fat in your diet. Not only will it not be used by your body but then you invite a whole host of toxicity issues as well as health problems due to over consumption.

Overconsumption of vitamin A supplements can lead to very rare cases of liver damage as well as a host of other health problems. There’s a general advising to pregnant woman to avoid high doses of vitamin A because, saldy, it can result in birth defects.

Vitamin D toxicity is very rare and can only occur from over consuming on too much vitamin D supplements. The main result of overconsumption of vitamin D is a condition called hypercalcemia, excessive amounts of calcium in the blood. Generally kidney damage can occur as well as headaches, vomiting and more virth defects.

Vitamin E toxicity is VERY difficult to achieve through natural consumption through foods. Vitamin E overdoing has been shown to not be so harmful, leading to blood-thinning side effects counteracted by vitamin K.

And with regards to vitamin K toxicity there are actually no known side effects. Further studies are being taken to fully understand the effects of overdosing on vitamin K.

Toxicity towards any of these vitamins generally comes from overdosing on supplements. Be mindful of whether you need supplementation or just whether you can afford to get solely from foods. It’s an extreme circumstance but can occur if you’re taking lots of supplements.

Removing fat from our diet means actively removing a handful of vital vitamins we need to live and survive well. You can live on a low-fat diet but you need to be aware that removal of fat means actively reducing animal fats, oils and nuts and seeds. Not only do these act as a source of these important vitamins but also the carrier for any supplements you’re taking to assist in your healthy welbeing.

The truth is, not everyone needs supplements at all. If you eat a varied diet you can very easily keep track and on top of your micronutrients. Supplements can only do so much, but if you’re taking these as supplements and attempting to remove fat from your diet, most likely you’re going to be paying for expensive wee.

This is also why you’re often instructed to consume any supplements such as vitamins and minerals with food, so to act as a carrier into your bloodstream.

So next time you’re choosing to remove fat from your diet completely, remember: It’s not just important for the absorption of vitamins, as well as removing the vital sources of them, but you’re also severly slashing your calorie intake. Only do this if you’re still eating fat in some of your meals just so you can get those vital vitamins, and if calorie restriction matches your goals.

IF ever you’re in doubt, get in touch for advice! 🙂

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