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First of all, the role of a Nutritionist is not to diagnose someone with a particular deficiency or illness. A medical professional should be the only one to do that. Having said that because we can be more agile than the NHS etc we sometimes have more time to look at the latest research and how it might be relevant.



So what are Vitamins and Minerals?


Well, first of all, they are described as Micronutrients. these are required in small amounts (<10g) to say Macronutrients (Proteins, Fats and Carbs).

The Micronutrients fall into these 2 Categories – Vitamins/Minerals



Why bother caring about Micronutrients?

They are crucial for proper health. From helping to absorb nutrients and bone growth to immune system and reduction of depressive symptoms.


Ok so what do I need to know about?

Fat Soluble Vitamins

So what exactly are fat soluble vitamins? Well they have the following characteristics 

  • Remain in fatty tissues
  • Not required daily
  • If you are supplementing, they can be consumed with fat to increase absorption
  • Excess can cause toxicity


The ones we’ll be looking at are Vitamins A, D, E and K



Vitamin A

In animal foods, it is in the form of retinol E.g. liver, whole milk and oily fish

In plant foods, it is found as beta carotene

 • Only 15-50% converts effectively
• E.g. green leafy vegetables & orange fruits


Why is it important?


• Vision in dim light
• Antioxidant properties
• Growth of bone
• Maintains epithelial tissues, connective tissue, muscle tissue and nervous tissue


 What is the RNI?


• 700 μg/d for men
• 600 μg/d for women


Vitamin D

Why is it important?


• Improves immune system – Prietl et al. (2013)

        • Improves bone health via supporting calcium absorption –  Hill et al. (2013)

        • Reduces risk of bone loss & fracture risk (elderly)

        •  Vitamin D deficiency associated with development of CVD,  cancer, IBD & AI disorders – Holick, (2007)

        • Reduces depressive symptoms – Shaffer et al. (2014)

        • Potentially improves strength – Tomlinson et al. (2015)

        • Potentially improves fat loss – Ortega et al. (2008)


What is the RNI?


• 10μg/d (400IUs/d)

 • However, it should possibly be higher – Hall et al. (2009)

 • Best to get tested for accurate dosage

 • Deficient levels are <20ng/ml, insufficient levels are <30ng/ml (75nmol/L) – Horlick & Chen (2008)


Problem is you can’t get much from food!


• Found in oily fish, egg yolks, butter and meat

• Fortification e.g. cereal. Kelloggs Cornflakes 30g = 1.14μg


What are the symptoms of deficiency?

• Fatigue

• Muscle weakness

• Aches in joints

• This can lead to rickets in children and osteoporosis in adults


Supplementation with vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol)


Vitamin D toxicity is unlikely but possible

• Toxicity was not found acutely with doses of 250μg/d (10,000 IU/d) – Hathcock et al. (2007)

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