Difference Between Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble Vitamins

Fruits and their vitamin content

Vitamins can be defined as organic compounds occurring in small quantities in different natural foods and are necessary for growth and maintenance of good health. Vitamins can also be defined as essential food factors, which are required for the proper utilization of food such as carbohydrates, lipids and proteins.

The discovery of Vitamins started from an observation of deficiency manifestations, such as beriberi, scurvy, rickets, etc. The theory was suggested by Hopkins in 1912 and which led to the term “vitamine”, meaning vital + amine, since the earlier identified ones had amino groups.

Other researches showed that most of these vitamins lack amino groups, so the “e” from vitamin last letter was dropped in the modern term to Vitamin. Although vitamins are nutritionally important, their role in clinical practice has been over-emphasized.

Vitamins are very useful in correcting deficiencies but the intake of higher doses will not boost up the health. Vitamins are usually present in our daily diet.

Classification of Vitamins

They are mainly classified into two category:

  • The fat soluble vitamins ( A, D, E and K )
  • Water soluble vitamins are named as B complex and C. (Thiamine, Riboflavin, Niacin, Pyridoxine, Pantothenic acid, Biotin, Folic acid, Vitamin B12 and Ascorbic acid)

Differences between Fat Soluble and Water Soluble Vitamins

Features Fat soluble vitamins Water soluble vitamins
Solubility in fat Soluble         Not soluble
Water solubility Not soluble Soluble
Absorption Along with lipids Absorption simple Requires bile salts except Vitamin B12
Carrier proteins Present No carrier proteins except Vitamin B12
Storage Stored in liver No storage  except Vitamin B12
Excretion Not excreted Excreted
Deficiency Manifests only Manifests rapidly when stores are as there is no depleted storage except Vitamin B12
Toxicity Hyper-vitaminosis may result Unlikely, since excess is excreted
Treatment of deficiency Single large doses may prevent deficiency Regular dietary supply is required
Major vitamins A,D,E and K B and C
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Deficiency due to Vitamins

The following could be as a result of vitamins deficiency

  • Reduced intake
  • Impaired absorption
  • Impaired metabolism
  • Additional requirements
  • Increased losses.


Textbook of Biochemistry – For Medical Students, 6th Edition

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About the Author: Arthur Westmann

DEFFE ARTHUR (AMOEBAMANN) is the founder and author of MLTGEEKS and MLTEXPO.He’s from Cameroon and is currently a Final year State Medical Laboratory Technician (MLT MA). Beyond lab works, he’s a passionate internet user with a keen interest in web design and blogging. Furthermore He likes traveling, hanging around with friends and social networking to do in his spare time.

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