Interesting Information: Fat-Soluble Vitamins Need FAT

Interesting Information:  May 23, 2013

Fat-Soluble Vitamins Need FAT

Yep!  They need the right kind of FAT to activate best in your body–and that’s a fat low in polyunsaturated fatty acids–which includes most vegetable oils.

You can supplement all you want–with food, with supplements–but if you don’t have enough good dietary FAT, the fat-soluble vitamins don’t go to work.

Chris Masterjohn is the young scientist that The Weston A. Price Foundation (WAPF) is helping to develop.  He has a PhD in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Connecticut and is currently working as a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois, studying the interactions between vitamins A, D, and K.  His blog is “The Daily Lipid,” which is supported under the web site.   So you can see he is following in the footsteps of Dr. Mary Enig, who is an internationally recognized expert on fats and the human body.

Masterjohn is a frequent (and welcome) contributor to WISE TRADITIONS, the quarterly journal of the WAPF.  THe winter 2012 issue has an important Masterjohn article:  “Nutritional Adjuncts to the Fat-Soluble Vitamins,” found at

This article is important because it illustrates that the current scientific paradigm of studying components of foods in isolation leads us to making really bad decisions.  An illustration would be the recent uproar about one component in red meat studied in isolation.  The result:  red meat might be dangerous to eat.  BUT, BUT, BUT, that component never exists in isolation in red meat.  It operates alongside all the other components, or synergistically.  And, red meat is the ONLY place we get vitamin B12 IN A FORM where our body can use it.  (Aren’t you wondering after all these years of folks trying to demonize red meat WHY?  First it was the fat.  Now it’s an isolated component.  Who is paying for this research anyway?  Where are we dealing with a belief system and where is good science?)

We need a new paradigm.  We need to study how components operate SYNERGISTICALLY , or how they react with each other and need each other to give us the best of what they have to offer.  Masterjohn traces the history of how science tried to understand how the fat-soluble vitamins work by isolating each one.  As a result, researchers did not get to an understanding of the truth of these vitamins.  The result was that people were told they needed more vitamin A.  No, it’s really vitamin D.  And vitamin K only works to help coagulate blood.  The role of vitamin K2 was dismissed entirely as it appears in very small quantities.  (Bigger is not always better.)

Masterjohn writes that the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, and K2 “interact synergistically to support immune health, provide for adequate growth, support strong bones and teeth, and protect soft tissues from calcification.”

And, said another way:   “We now know that vitamins A and D also cooperate together to regulate the production of certain vitamin K-dependent proteins.  Once vitamin K activates these proteins, they help mineralize bones and teeth, support adequate growth, and protect arteries and other soft tissues from abnormal calcification, and protect against cell death.”

BUT, the synergism is bigger than just these three vitamins:

Magnesiumn is “required for the production of all proteins, including those that interact with vitamins A and D.

Vitamins A and D “support the absorption of zinc and zinc supports the absorption of all the fat-soluble vitamins.”

Many of the proteins involved in vitamin A metabolism and the receptors for both vitamins A and D only function correctly in the presence of zinc.

Dietary fat is necessary for the absorption off at-soluble vitamins.

Nature provided these ingredients for us in nutrient-dense foods.  Trying to obtain them through supplements can drastically throw off how they interact with each other–which means trouble in the body.

Masterjohn argues that we need to eat the right kinds of fat to access the crucially important fat-soluble vitamins:

Human studies show that both the amount and type of fat are important.  For example, one study showed that absorption of beta-carotene from a salad with no added fat was close to zero.  The addition of a lowfat dressing made from canola oil increased absorption, but a high-fat dressing was much more effective.  Canola oil, however, is far from ideal.  Studies in rats show that absorption of carotenoids is much higher with olive oil than with corn oil.

Similarly, studies in humans show that consuming beta-carotene with beef tallow rather than sunflower oil increases the amount we absorb from 11 to 17 percent.

Why is the animal fat a better fat in terms of absorption?  Masterjohn poses that the lower the fats are in polyunsaturated fatty acids, the better they work inside our bodies.  He poses that polyunsaturated fatty acids likely promote the oxidative destruction of fat-soluble vitamins in the intestines before we are able to absorb them.”

Nutrient-dense foods derive from animals:  meat, milk, eggs, REAL cod-liver oil (not the pasteurized kind with vitamins added back), etc.  Yes, plants are important sources of useful components, but our bodies work best with nutrient-dense foods.