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Fat-Soluble Vitamins: A, D, E, and also K – 9.315

Publish this truth sheet

by J. Clifford and A. Kozil* (9/17)

Quick Facts…

Small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin D, vitamin E and vitamin K are needed to preserve great wellness.Fat-soluble vitamins will certainly not be lost as soon as the foodstuffs that contain them are cooked.The body does not need these vitamins eextremely day and stores them in the liver and adipose (fat) tproblem when not supplied.Most civilization carry out not need vitamin supplements.Megadoses of vitamins A, D, E or K deserve to be toxic and also lead to health and wellness troubles.Requirements for vitamins might be expressed in different mathematical units. Close attention should be paid to encertain that similar devices are being compared.

You are watching: It is not absolutely necessary to consume the fat-soluble vitamins every day because they:

What are Vitamins?

Vitamins are essential micronutrients forced by the body in tiny amounts to support a range of essential functions. Vitamins are divided right into 2 groups: water-soluble (B-complicated vitamins and Cvitamins) and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K). Unchoose water-soluble vitamins that need regular replacement in the body, fat-soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and also fatty tworries, and areeliminated much even more progressively than water-soluble vitamins. For even more information on water-soluble vitamins, see truth sheet 9.312 Water-Soluble Vitamins: Vitamin B-Complex and Vitamin C.

What are Fat-Soluble Vitamins?

The fat-soluble vitamins, A, D, E, and also K, are stored in the body for long durations of time and primarily pose a greater hazard for toxicity than water-soluble vitamins when consumed in excess. Eating a normal, well-balanced diet will not result in toxicity in otherwise healthy individuals. However, taking vitamin supplements that contain megadoses of vitamins A, D, E and also K might bring about toxicity.

While conditions caused by a absence of fat-soluble vitamins are rare in the United States, symptoms of mild deficiency can develop without adequate quantities of vitamins in the diet. Additionally, somewellness problems, such as inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), chronic pancreatitis, and cystic fibrosis, might decrease the absorption of fat, and also in turn, decrease the absorption of vitamins A, D, E and K. Consult a medical skilled about any potential health and wellness difficulties that may interfere via vitamin absorption.

Vitamin A: Retinol


What is Vitamin A?

Vitamin A, additionally referred to as retinol, has many features in the body. In addition to helping the eyes adjust to light changes, vitamin A plays an important function in bone growth, tooth development, reproduction, cell department, gene expression, and regulation of the immune device. The skin, eyes, and also mucous membranes of the mouth, nose, throat and lungs depend on vitamin A to remain moist. Vitamin A is also a crucial antioxidant that might play a duty in the avoidance of certain cancers.

Food Sources for Vitamin A

Eating a wide range of foods is the best way to ensure that the body gets enough vitamin A. The retinol, retinal, and retinoic acid creates of vitamin A are supplied primarily by foods items of animal origin such as dairy commodities, fish and liver. Some foods of plant origin contain the antioxidant, beta-carotene, which the body converts to vitamin A. Beta-carotene, comes from fruits and also vegetables, especially those that are orange or dark green in shade. Vitamin A resources additionally incorporate carrots, pumpkin, winter squash, dark green leafy vegetables and also apricots, all of which are wealthy in betacarotene.

How Much Vitamin A Do We Need?

The reference for vitamin A intake is expressed as micrograms (mcg) of retinol activity equivalents (RAE). Retinol task equivalents account for the truth that the body converts just a part of beta-carotene to retinol. One RAE equates to 1 mcg of retinol or 12 mcg of beta-carotene (Table 1). The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin A is 900 mcg/ day for adult males and also 700 mcg/day for adult females.

Contrasted to vitamin A containing foods, it takes twice the amount of carotene affluent foods items to accomplish the body’s vitamin A needs, so one may must increase usage of carotene containing plant foods to satisfy the RDA for vitamin A.

Studies indicate that vitamin A requirements might be increased because of hyperthyroidism, fever before, infection, cold, and also exposure to excessive quantities of sunlight. Those who consume excess alcohol or have actually renal condition must additionally increase intake of vitamin A.

Vitamin A Deficiency

Vitamin A deficiency in the USA is rare, but the disease that outcomes is well-known as xerophthalmia, which deserve to lead to blindness if untreated. It many commonly occurs in developing countries usually as a result of malnutrition. Since vitamin A is stored in the liver, it may take as much as 2 years for indicators of deficiency to show up. Night blindness and incredibly dry, unstable skin might show a absence of vitamin A. Other indicators of feasible vitamin A deficiency incorporate reduced resistance to infections, faulty tooth breakthrough, and sreduced bone growth. Vitamin A deficiency is additionally a recognized threat variable for serious measles. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), Vitamin A supplementation can significantly minimize mortality rates for children via measles who live in locations through a high pervasiveness of Vitamin A deficiency. The effectiveness of vitamin A supplementation to treat measles in countries, such as the United States, wbelow vitamin A intakes are primarily sufficient, is uncertain.

Too a lot Vitamin A

In the USA, toxic or excess levels of vitamin A are even more of a issue than deficiencies. The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for adults is 3,000 mcg RAE (Table 2). It would certainly be difficult to reach this level consuming food alone, however some multivitamin supplements contain high doses of vitamin A. Retinol is the create of vitamin A that causes the biggest concern for toxicity. If you take a multivitamin, inspect the label to be certain the majority of vitamin A gave is in the form of beta-carotene, which shows up to be safe. Some medications used to treat acne, psoriasis, and other skin conditions contain compounds that mimic retinol in the body. Much like extreme intake of dietary retinol, these medicines have been displayed to negatively affect bone wellness and cause delayed growth in youngsters and teenagers.

Symptoms of vitamin A toxicity include dry, itchy skin, headache, nausea, and also loss of appetite. Signs of major overuse over a brief duration of time encompass dizziness, blurred vision and slowed development. Vitamin A toxicity can likewise cause major birth defects and may increase the risk for bone loss and also hip fractures.

Vitamin D


What is Vitamin D?

Vitamin D plays a critical duty in the body’s usage of calcium and phosphorous. It functions by boosting the amount of calcium absorbed from the little intestine, helping to develop and also keep bones. Vitamin D benefits the body by playing a function in immunity and also managing cell growth and might protect against osteoporosis, high blood pressure, cancer, and various other conditions. Children specifically need adequate amounts of vitamin D to develop strong bones and healthy teeth.

Food Sources for Vitamin D

The primary food sources of vitamin D are milk and various other dairy assets strengthened through vitamin D. Vitamin D is also uncovered in oily fish (e.g., herring, salmon and also sardines) and in cod liver oil. In addition to the vitamin D gave by food, we acquire vitamin D through our skin which produces vitamin D in response to sunlight.

How much Vitamin D Do We Need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D shows up as micrograms (mcg) of cholecalciferol (vitamin D3) (Table 1). From 12 months to age fifty, the RDA is set at 15 mcg. Twenty mcg of cholecalciferol equals 800 International Units (IU), which is the recommendation for maintenance of healthy and balanced bone for adults over fifty. Table 1 lists additional references for assorted life stperiods.

Exposure to ultraviolet light is important for the body to develop the active form of vitamin D. Ten to fifteen minutes of sunlight without sunscreen on the hands, arms and also challenge, twice a week is sufficient to obtain enough vitamin D. This can quickly be derived while spent riding a bike to occupational or taking a brief walk with arms and also legs exposed. In order to minimize the hazard for skin cancer one have to apply sunscreen through an SPF of 15 or more, if time in the sunlight exceeds 10 to 15 minutes.

Vitamin D Deficiency

Symptoms of vitamin D deficiency in growing children incorporate rickets (long, soft bowed legs) and flattening of the back of the skull. Vitamin D deficiency in adults may result in osteomalacia (muscle and also bone weakness), and also osteoporosis (loss of bone mass). Vitamin D deficiency has been associated via increased danger of common cancers, autoimmune conditions, hyperanxiety, and also infectious illness.Research shows that vitamin D insufficiency affects practically 50% of the population worldwide; an estimated 1 billion civilization. The climbing price of deficiency has been linked to a reduction in outdoor activity and also a boost in the use of sunscreen among kids and adults. In addition, those who live in inner cities, wear apparel that covers a lot of of the skin, or live in northern climates wright here bit sun is viewed in the winter are additionally prone to vitamin D deficiency. Because a lot of foodstuffs have very low vitamin D levels (unless they are enriched) a deficiency might be more likely to build without sufficient expocertain to sunlight. Adding fortified foods to the diet such as milk, and for adults consisting of a supplement, are effective at ensuring enough vitamin D intake and preventing low vitamin D levels. In the absence of sufficient sun exposure, at least 800 to 1,000 IU of vitamin D3 might be necessary to reach the circulating level forced to maximize vitamin D’s benefits.

Who is at Risk — These populations may require added vitamin D in the develop of supplements or strengthened foods:

Exclusively breast-fed infants: Person milk only provides 25 IU of vitamin D per liter. All breast-fed and also partly breast-fed infants need to be provided a vitamin D supplement of 400 IU/day.Dark Skin: Those with dark pigmented skin synthesize less vitamin D upon expocertain to sunlight compared to those via light pigmented skin.Elderly: This population has a lessened ability to synthesize vitamin D upon exposure to sunlight, and also is also more likely to remain indoors and also wear sundisplay which blocks vitamin D synthesis.Covered and also protected skin: Those that cover all of their skin through clothes while external, and those that wear sundisplay through an SPF aspect of 8, block most of the synthesis of vitamin D from sunlight.Disease: Fat malabsorption syndromes, inflammatory bowel illness (IBD), and excessive weight are all recognized to bring about a decreased capability to absorb and/or usage vitamin D in fat stores.Too a lot Vitamin D

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin D is set at 100 mcg (4000 IUs) for world 9 years of age and also older (Table 2). High doses of vitamin D supplements coupled via large amounts of fortified foodstuffs might reason accumulations in the liver and develop indicators of poisoning. Signs of vitamin D toxicity incorporate excess calcium in the blood, slowed mental and also physical growth, reduced appetite, nausea and vomiting.

It is especially important that infants and young kids do not consume excess amounts of vitamin D consistently, because of their little body size.

Vitamin E: Tocopherol

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E benefits the body by acting as an antioxidant, and also protecting vitamins A and C, red blood cells, and also vital fatty acids from damage. Research from years ago argued that taking antioxidant supplements, vitamin E in certain, might aid proccasion heart condition and also cancer. However before, more recent findings show that people that take antioxidant and vitamin E supplements are not much better protected versus heart disease and cancer than non-supplement users. Many type of researches show a attach between on a regular basis eating an antioxidant rich diet complete of fruits and vegetables, and a lower threat for heart condition, cancer, Alzheimer’s Disease, and numerous various other conditions. Basically, research indicates that to receive the complete benefits of antioxidants and also phytonutrients in the diet, one have to consume these compounds in the create of fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, not as supplements.

Food Sources for Vitamin E

About 60 percent of vitamin E in the diet originates from vegetable oil (soybean, corn, cottonseed, and safflower). This likewise contains commodities made with vegetable oil (margarine and salad dressing). Vitamin E sources also encompass fruits and also vegetables, grains, nuts (almonds and also hazelnuts), seeds (sunflower) and also strengthened cereals.

How much Vitamin E Do We Need?

The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin E is based on the many energetic and usable create dubbed alpha-tocopherol (Table 1). Food and also supplement labels list alpha-tocopherol as the unit international devices (IU) or micrograms (mcg), not in milligrams (mg). One microgram of alpha-tocopherol equals to 1.5 Internationwide systems (IU). RDA guidelines state that males and also females over the age of 14 should obtain 15 mcg (22.5 IUs) of alpha-tocopherol per day. Consuming vitamin E in excess of the RDA does not bring about any type of included benefits.

Vitamin E Deficiency

Vitamin E deficiency is rare. Cases of vitamin E deficiency normally only occur in premature babies and also in those unable to absorb fats. Due to the fact that vegetable oils are good resources of vitamin E, world that excessively mitigate their total dietary fat might not obtain sufficient vitamin E.

Too a lot Vitamin E

The Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) for vitamin E is displayed in Table 2.Vitamin E derived from food typically does not pose a danger for toxicity. Supplemental vitamin E is not recommfinished as a result of lack of evidence supporting any added wellness benefits. Megadoses of supplepsychological vitamin E might pose a danger to people taking blood-thinning drugs such as Coumadin (also recognized as warfarin) and those on statin drugs.

Vitamin K

What is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is naturally developed by the bacteria in the intestines, and also plays an essential role in normal blood clotting, fostering bone health, and helping to create proteins for blood, bones, and kidneys.

Food Sources for Vitamin K

Good food resources of vitamin K are green, leafy-vegetables such as turnip greens, spinach, caulifreduced, cabbage and also broccoli, and also specific vegetables oils consisting of soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil and also olive oil. Animal foodstuffs, in general, contain limited amounts of vitamin K.

How much Vitamin K Do We Need?

To assist encertain people obtain enough quantities of vitamin K, an Adequate Intake (AI) has actually been established for each age team (Table 1).

Vitamin K Deficiency

Without adequate amounts of vitamin K, hemorrhaging have the right to happen. Vitamin K deficiency might show up in infants or in world who take anticoagulants, such as Coumadin (warfarin), or antibiotic drugs. Newborn babies lack the intestinal bacteria to develop vitamin K and also require a supplement for the first week. Those on anticoagulant drugs (blood thinners) may come to be vitamin K deficient, yet should not readjust their vitamin K intake without consulting a medical professional. People taking antibiotics might lack vitamin K temporarily bereason intestinal bacteria are sometimes eliminated as a result of long-term use of antibiotics. Also, people via chronic diarrhea might have troubles absorbing enough amounts of vitamin K via the intestine and have to consult their doctor to identify if supplementation is vital.

Too a lot Vitamin K

Although no Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL) has been establimelted for vitamin K, extreme quantities deserve to reason the breakdown of red blood cells and also liver damages. People taking blood-thinning drugs or anticoagulants need to modeprice their intake of foodstuffs through vitamin K, because excess vitamin K deserve to alter blood clotting times. Large doses of vitamin K are not advised.


Fat-soluble vitamins: A, D, E, and also K —are stored in the body for long periods of time, and also pose a greater danger for toxicity than water-soluble vitamins. Fat-soluble vitamins are just needed in little quantities.Beta carotene is a crucial antioxidant that the body converts to Vitamin A,and it is uncovered in a range of fruits and vegetables.Inenough dietary consumption of vitamin D, along with restricted sunlight expocertain, provides vitamin D deficiency a thriving public health concern.Vitamin E benefits the body by acting as an antioxidant, and research study shows that it may sell a protective effect if obtained via a diet affluent in fruits and also vegetables, as opposed to a supplement or multivitamin.The bacteria in our gut create vitamin K, and it is also uncovered in green leafy vegetables.

Table 1. Recommfinished Dietary Intake (RDA) and also Adequate Intake (AI) for Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Life Stage GroupVitamin A(mcg1/RAE)Vitamin D(mcg2)Vitamin E(mcg a-TE3)Vitamin K(mcg)
0 – 6mo400*10*4*2.0*
6mo – 12mo500*10*5*2.5*
1 – 3y30015630*
4 – 8y40015755*
9 – 13y600151160*
14 – 18y900151575*
19 – 30y9001515120*
31 – 50y9001515120*
51 – 70y9001515120*
9 – 13y600151160*
14 – 18y700151575*
19 – 30y700151590*
31 – 50y700151590*
51 – 70y700151590*
14 – 18y750151575
19 – 30y770151590
31 – 50y770151590
14 – 18y1200151975
19 – 30y1300151990
31 – 50y1300151990

1As retinol task equivalents (RAEs). 1 RAE = 1mcg retinol or 12 mcg beta-carotene.

2As cholecalciferol (vitamin D3). 10 mcg cholecalciferol = 400 IU of Vitamin D.

3As alpha-tocopherol equivalents. 1 mg of alpha-tocopherol = 1.5 IU of Vitamin E=22IU of d-alpha-tocopherol=33 IU of dl-alpha- tocopherol

4At 6 months of age, babies may be introduced to solid foods while staying on formula or breast milk. There might be some overlap in specific nutrient needs.

*Indicates an Adequate Intake (AI). All various other values are Recommfinished Dietary Allowance (RDA).

Table 2. Tolerable Upper Intake Levels (UL) for Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Life Stage GroupVitamin A(mcg/d)Vitamin D(mcg/d)Vitamin E(mg a-TE)Vitamin K*
0 – 6mo60025ND2ND
6mo – 12mo60038NDND
1 – 3y60063200ND
4 – 8y90075300ND
9 – 13y1700100600ND
14 – 18y2800100800ND
19 – 70y30001001000ND
Pregnant and also Lactating

1At 6 months of age, infants might be introduced to solid foodstuffs while continuing to be on formula or breast milk. There might be some overlap in particular nutrient requirements.

2ND = not determinable because of inenough data

*An UL for vitamin K was not establimelted.


Berdanier, C., Berdanier, L., Zempleni, J. (2009). State-of-the-art Nutrition: Macronutrients, Micronutrients, and also Metabolism. Boca Raton, FL: CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group.

Duyff, R. (2012). American Dietetic Association: Complete Food and also Nutrition Guide. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Gropper, S., Smith, J. (2009).Advanced Nutrition and also Human being Metabolism. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Ccommunicate Learning.

Holick, M., Chen, T. (2008). Vitamin D deficiency: a worldwide problem through health and wellness aftermath. Amerihave the right to Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 87 (4), 1080-1086.

Institute of Medicine (US). (2002). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and also Zinc. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Institute of Medicine (US). (2000). Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Selenium, and Carotenoids. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Institute of Medicine (US) Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and also Calcium; Ross A., Taylor, C., Yaktine, A., et al., editors. (2011). Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. Washington, DC: National Academies Press. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56070/ doi: 10.17226/13050.

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* J. Clifford, Coloraexecute State University soimg.org food and also nutrition specialist , A. Kozil, graduate student. Original reality sheet revised by L. Bellows, Coloraexecute State University soimg.org food and also nutrition specialist and also assistant professor; and R. Moore, graduate student. 11/2012 . Revised 9/17.