Unlike water-soluble vitamins, the body does not need fat-soluble vitamins every day.

Often stored in the body for later use, fat-soluble vitamins travel through the small intestines lymphatic system and into the body’s blood circulation. Below, Vancouver physician Dr. Ali Ghahary breaks down the different types of fat-soluble vitamins and the role that each one plays.

There are 4 types of fat-soluble vitamins, including:

• Vitamin A
• Vitamin D
• Vitamin E
• Vitamin K

Vitamin A, also known as Retinol, has many different functions. Not only does is strengthen your ability to fight infections, it also helps with reproduction, vision, and other organs such as the heart, lungs and kidneys, as well as keeps the skin healthy. Research has also shown that vitamin A can reduce the risk of cancer, age-related macular degeneration, as well as the measles. Food sources of vitamin A include beef liver, salmon, vegetables (especially those that are green, orange or yellow), fruits such as mangos, cantaloupes and apricots, dairy products and fortified breakfast cereals. Although rare, you could be at risk of developing vitamin A deficiency if you have cystic fibrosis. Premature infants are also more likely to be vitamin A deficient during their first year.

Vitamin D is something that is produced naturally when your skin is exposed to sunlight – which is why it is also commonly referred to as “the sunshine vitamin.” Vitamin D plays a wide range of roles including promoting calcium absorption, bone growth and strength, immune system function, as well as reduces inflammation. Because vitamin D is found in very few foods, Dr. Ali Ghahary recommends patients take vitamin D supplements to ensure they’re getting the necessary amount required.

Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant and helps maintain cell structure as well as protects cell membranes, enhances the immune system, and works as an anti-inflammatory. Some studies have also shown vitamin E to reduce the risk of coronary heart disease and cancer, and it can also slow down cognitive decline. Some of the best sources for vitamin E include sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, spinach, broccoli, kiwi and mango.

Vitamin K is good for you because it helps the body respond to injuries by regulating normal blood clotting. Vitamin K also transports calcium throughout the body, which is great for bone health. Spinach, kale, broccoli, cheese, and blueberries are just some of several foods that contain vitamin K. It’s also present in most multivitamin supplements.

Stay tuned to Dr. Ali Ghahary’s Twitter and Instagram accounts for more information on the importance of vitamins throughout the week!