Dietary Supplement Manufacturing & Nutraceutical Insights

What's the difference between Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble vitamins?

What's the difference between Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble vitamins?

From pre-workouts to traditional MVMs – vitamins are staples of the dietary supplement universe. Along with popular supplements like fish oils and probiotics, vitamins and multivitamins/minerals have earned a place as one of America’s top ranking supplement categories , with some estimates reporting that nearly a third of all American adults (which is approximately 106.3 million) take some kind of vitamin supplement regularly.

In today’s market, crafting a formulation that includes a vitamin of some kind isn’t all that uncommon. Whether it’s for the sake of creating your ideal formulation or in an effort to meet your target customer’s needs (a factor that’s always worth considering), finding the right vitamin(s) for a product’s formula requires taking into account all of the different variables that are in play.

RELATED READING: What are vitamins and minerals?

When it comes to vitamins, two of the most basic categories that they can be broken down into (so far as our bodies are concerned) are fat-soluble and water-soluble.

Hurray for Solubility!

Before we dive into the differences, let’s take a moment to recognize the most significant property that both categories share: solubility.

As per the Oxford Pocket Dictionary of Current English, the first (and more pertinent) definition of soluble looks something like this:

Soluble: adjective. (Of a substance) able to be dissolved, especially in water.

Though it may seem silly to point out that fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins have the ability to dissolve in their respective substances, if they weren’t soluble then we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

Now that we’ve taken care of that little similarity, on to the differences!

The Differences Between Fat-Soluble and Water-Soluble Vitamins

The primary difference between fat-soluble and water-soluble vitamins is the substance in which they can dissolve – which shouldn’t come as a surprise given their names.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins that fall into this category are soluble in fats and, as a result, are stored by the body in its tissues. Unlike like their water-soluble counterparts, it is possible for the body to store too much of these vitamins – though having this happen is fairly uncommon. More often than not, any instances of hypervitaminosis (yes, that is the actual scientific term) result from taking too large a dosage (which, in turn, is often times the results of self-prescribing/the absence of a professional medical opinion). Hypervitaminosis aside, the list of fat-soluble essential vitamins includes Vitamins A, D, E, and K.

Related Reading: Vitamins for Fido - The Popularity of Pet Supplements

Water-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins that fall into this category are soluble in water and, as a result, are carried to the body’s tissues but aren’t stored in them. In fact, the majority of the water-soluble vitamins that we ingest are processed and released by means of our excretory systems. Vitamins that fall into this category include the whole family of B vitamins (B1, (thiamine), B2 (riboflavin), B3 (niacin), B6, B12 (cyanocobalamin), Pantothenic acid, B7 (Biotin), Folate (Folic acid and B9)) and Vitamin C.

The Takeaway

Knowing the fundamental differences between the most basic (and oftentimes, most essential) elements of our industry is a great way for brand owners and potential brand owners to stay informed, increase their authority, and – most importantly – increase their ability to meet their customers' needs.

Related Reading: Top Supplement Types According to Users - Infographic

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March 30th, 2016

About the Author:

Melissa DellaBartolomea

Melissa DellaBartolomea was the resident Content Marketing Specialist at NutraScience Labs from February 2016 to July 2018. Driven by a passion for the world of written, visual, and digital media, she's dedicated herself to keeping up with all things nutraceutical. From ingredient insights to the latest in contract manufacturing regulations and trends, her mission is to provide our readers (like you) with the stories and knowledge they need to fuel long-term growth and nutraceutical industry success.