The Real Difference Between Fat-Soluble And Water-Soluble Vitamins

We all know vitamins are important. Our moms reminded us of it every time we balked before the pile of brussel sprouts on our dinner plates. Well, mom was right.

Our bodies can't function well without plenty of both fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins. Too little vitamin C can lead to scurvy. Slack off on vitamin A and you might develop poor immune function and night blindness. Neglect vitamin K and you'll find yourself with blood clotting problems (via Healthians). It's enough to make you lose sleep with worry. Fortunately, for most people, you don't have to overthink it. A varied, healthy, nutritionally-dense diet provides most people with all the vitamins they need.

Water-soluble vitamins, which include the B-complex vitamins (vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9, B12) and vitamin C, dissolve easily in water, as the name indicates. That means that they can be easily absorbed into body tissues and can be used by the body immediately. They can't be stored though, so replenishing them consistently through a healthy diet is important. Any excess beyond what your body can use is quickly excreted through urine, so it's hard to overdose; but certain water-soluble vitamins, like vitamin C, can cause diarrhea if taken in excess (via Verywell Health).

Vitamin needs can normally be met through a healthy diet

Fat-soluble vitamins include vitamins A, D, E, and K. These are stored in body tissues, and require the presence of fat in order to be properly absorbed. That's why putting some oil-based salad dressing on your salad actually helps you get the most nutritional bang for your buck from your spinach and leafy greens.

Any excess amount of these fat-soluble vitamins is stored in the liver and fatty tissue for future use. Because they can be stored by the body, and are not easily excreted, it's possible for these vitamins to accumulate in the body in toxic levels. Since most people consume enough fat-soluble vitamins through diet, overdosing is usually a result of taking too many vitamin supplements.

All vitamins are important, but remember that most, if not all, of your nutritional needs should be met through food, and some dieticians even advise taking money spent on supplements and spending it on fruits and vegetables instead (via Kerry Neville, RD, spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association, adds "Too many people think that popping a pill and not caring about what they eat is fine" (via Woman's Day).