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How to Shop the Vitamin Aisle, Based on Your Diet

Low-Fat Diets

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Image: Shutterstock. Design: Ashley Britton/SheKnows.

Those who follow a low-fat diet restrict their consumption of fatty foods. This means prioritizing plant-based foods, low-fat dairy products, and lean meats, while limiting the intake of fattier meats, full-fat dairy products, nuts, oils, whole eggs — sometimes, even avocados.

Low-fat diets tend to be high in nutrients found in leafy greens and other vegetables. And because they encourage the consumption of lean meats and low-fat dairy products, low-fat diets avoid some of the nutrient insufficiencies commonly associated with animal-free diets, like vegetarian and vegan diets.

That said, some low-fat diets have been show to be low in fat-soluble vitamins — like vitamins A, D, E and K. And in some particularly extreme cases, they’ve been associated with insufficiencies in essential fatty acids, too.

If you’ve limited your intake of fatty foods, it may be worth talking to your doctor to ensure you’re consuming enough fat-soluble vitamins and essential fatty acids. If you’re not, you may want to consider adding those nutrients to your diet via supplements.

Vitamin A

Vitamin A is the name of a group of fat-soluble retinoids that contribute to immune function, vision, reproduction, and cellular communication, according to the NIH. Vitamin A also plays key roles in vision, cell growth and differentiation, and the maintenance of several organs (including the heart, lungs, and kidneys). The NIH recommends that women above the age of 19 consume 700 micrograms of vitamin A each day — that’s a little more than the amount found in one-half cup of spinach. (This recommended daily intake jumps to 770 micrograms among pregnant women in the same age group, and it further increases to 1,300 micrograms among breastfeeding women in that group.)

Vitamin A is found in a wide range of foods, including beef liver, sweet potato, spinach, milk, and mangos. But because vitamin A is fat-soluble, your body needs fat to properly absorb its nutrients. So low-fat diets may be low in vitamin A. Given this, you may want to talk to your doctor about supplementing your vitamin A consumption — and potentially pairing that vitamin A supplement with an essential fatty acids supplement (or a similar supplement that would help your body absorb and process that vitamin A).

 

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Vitamin D

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Vitamin E

Vitamin E is the name of a group of fat-soluble antioxidant compounds that protect cells from damage, contribute to immune function, and potentially prevent or delay the onset of some chronic diseases, according to the NIH. The NIH recommends that women over the age of 14 consume 15 milligrams of vitamin E each day — that’s about twice the amount found in one ounce of roasted sunflower seeds. (This recommended daily intake jumps to 19 milligrams among breastfeeding women in the same age group.)

Vitamin E is primarily found in nuts, seeds, and oils, though you can also find small amounts in spinach and broccoli. Most of these foods are high in fat, so they may be in limited supply on a low-fat diet. Given this, you might want to consider talking to your doctor about supplementing your vitamin E intake.

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Vitamin K

Vitamin K is the name of a group of fat-soluble compounds that contribute to a number of physiological functions, including protein synthesis, bone metabolism, and blood clotting, according to the NIH. The NIH recommends that women over the age of 19 consume 90 micrograms of vitamin K each day — that’s a little less than the amount found in 1 cup of raw spinach.

Vitamin K is found in many low-fat foods, including collars, turnip greens, spinach, kale, and broccoli. However, because vitamin K is fat-soluble, it needs to be combined with adequate fat intake to be properly absorbed. Given this, you may want to talk to your health care provider about the possibility of supplementing your vitamin K intake — or supplementing your diet with an essential fatty acids supplement (or a similar supplement that would help your body absorb and process vitamin K).

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Next: The Best Diets for Intermittent Fasters

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