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Home > Pre-Reg Pharmacist > Fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins

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Fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins

This table shows the differences in properties for fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins.

Fat-soluble vitamins Water-soluble vitamins
Soluble in fat. Soluble in water.
Require bile and lipids for absorption. Easily absorbed by the intestine.
Can become toxic in excess amounts (likely to result from supplements and not diet) as these are not readily excreted and are stored for later use. Excess amounts are readily excreted in the urine so toxicity resulting from overdosing is rare.
Stored in the liver and fatty tissues until the body needs them so it does not need to be supplied by the diet frequently. Not stored in a considerable quantity (except vitamin B12), so needs to be supplied by the diet frequently.
Slow onset of deficiency symptoms e.g. months to more than a year. Fast onset of deficiency symptoms e.g. weeks to months.


Below is a list of fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins including the food sources their found in.

Vitamin Fat-soluble / Water-soluble Food sources
Vitamin A
Fat-soluble Liver, fish liver oils, eggs, milk, butter, cheese

Leafy green vegetables, orange and yellow vegetables, tomatoes, fruits (these contain beta-carotene, a precursor of vitamin A)
Vitamin B1
Water-soluble Liver, pork, wholegrains, legumes, nuts, sunflower seeds, fruits, vegetables
Vitamin B2
Water-soluble Liver, kidney, eggs, milk, rice, legumes, wholegrains, green vegetables
Vitamin B3
Water-soluble Fish, poultry, meat, milk, wholegrains
Vitamin B5
(Pantothenic acid)
Water-soluble Liver, kidney, eggs, wholegrains, fortified breakfast cereals
Vitamin B6
Water-soluble Meat, fish, wholegrains, vegetables
Vitamin B9
(Folic Acid)
Water-soluble Liver, legumes, leafy green vegetables, wholegrains, yeast extract
Vitamin B12
Water-soluble Meat, poultry, liver, kidney, fish, eggs, dairy products
Vitamin C
(Ascorbic Acid)
Water-soluble Citrus fruits, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli
Vitamin D
Fat-soluble Oily fish, fish liver oils, egg yolk, dairy products
Vitamin E
Fat-soluble Nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, wheat germ
Vitamin H
Water-soluble Egg yolk, liver, kidney, milk, yeast
Vitamin K
(Occurs naturally in two forms - Vitamin K1: Phytomenadione; Vitamin K2: Menaquinones)
Fat-soluble Leafy green vegetables, rapeseed and soya bean oil, natto, wholegrain cereals


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