Did you know that there are 4 vitamins that require fats or lipids in order to be digested properly? The fats are needed to transport the vitamins across the intestinal lining, into the bloodstream which then delivers them to the cells. The vitamins need to jump on board a fat molecule if they want to make it across the border (the gut lining). A low fat diet can reduce the absorption of these vitamins, as can a lack of bile salts. Interestingly, cholesterol is required for bile production (and many other important biological reactions), yet we have been made to think it is the enemy. The moral of the story being, that fats are absolutely essential in the absorption of these important vitamins (and other things)!
THEIR FUNCTIONS (IN A NUTSHELL)
Vitamin A - needed for healthy skin, hair, bones and teeth. Important for regenerating the mucosal layer of the gut lining and in other parts of the body and essential for optimum system functioning. Best food sources: carrot, raw dark leafy greens, raw squash and offal e.g. liver.
Vitamin D - needed for the absorption and utilisation of calcium, phosphorus and magnesium (minerals). Needed for bone health and growth, to produce hormones such as serotonin, for cell growth and reproduction and a healthy immune system. Best food sources: offal e.g. liver & heart, oysters, sardines, caviar, atlantic cod.
Vitamin D deficiency is now quite a common issue and many people are now aware of the importance of sufficient vitamin D levels and how it is commonly linked to lack of sunlight. However it may also be linked to lack of adequate fats and cholesterol in your cells. This is because cholesterol in the cell membranes of your skin cells, converts sunlight into vitamin D. So if your cell membranes do not have the right fatty acid profile then they will not be able to convert the UVB rays into vitamin D.
Vitamin E - fantastic antioxidant and keeps cell membranes healthy as it protects lipids from peroxidation (oxidation in lipids/fats). Best food sources: almonds, avocado, sunflower seeds, eel, extra virgin olive oil.
Vitamin K - essential for blood clotting if wounded, has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Best food sources: rocket/arugula, broccoli, Brussels Sprouts, cabbage, spring onions, cucumber, kale and other leafy greens,
Making sure you properly digest and absorb these vitamins is easy, you just need to have some healthy fats with your main meals (or every meal if you’re like us). As vitamins A, E and K are mainly found in vegetables, then just lightly sauté your veggies in coconut or avocado oil; drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil or cook them in animal fats such as bone marrow or tallow. We use adequate fats in most of our dishes as we believe in their potent health giving powers. We normally cook with avocado or coconut oil, but then use extra virgin olive oil in dressings and to drizzle. Due to our copious use of avocado fruits as well, you’ll most likely be getting a healthy dose of healthy fats when you eat with us.
RHIANNON BAKER | HEALTH & WELLNESS AUTHOR