Elimination of water soluble versus fat soluble vitamins

The body functions only with a regular supply of essential vitamins. Vitamins are found in several types of food that are eaten, which helps in body function. Vitamins are very important for the body and thus, a well-rounded diet ensures the body has access to all important nutrients. It performs several functions, including strengthening bones, improving vision, healing wounds, and providing the body with energy. In this view, there are two types of vitamins, including water and fat-soluble. Hence, these types of vitamins are either soluble in fats or water in the human body. Vitamins function as per the functions and needs of the body. Fats are absorbed within the body in several other ways, classified as water-soluble or fat-soluble. Elimination of vitamins that are soluble in water occurs through urine, while that of vitamins that are fat-soluble occurs through feces.

On the other hand, fat-soluble vitamins generally pass through small intestines, distributed within the blood, and are generally stored in the liver and adipose tissues for their use in future. If such vitamins are consumed through high-fat food, they can be easily absorbed by the body. Fat-soluble vitamin types include vitamin A, D, E, and K. The water-soluble vitamins for intestinal absorption are received either from diet or microbial synthesis in the large intestine. The vitamins taken through diet are generally absorbed in the small intestine, while others are synthesized in the large intestine. The majority of the vitamins are accompanied by carrier-mediated transport systems, which allow uptake from the intestinal lumen in the enterocyte. They also export the vitamins from the enterocyte basolateral surface. The absorbers of vitamins are majorly dependent on sodium. Fat-soluble vitamins are generally absorbed from the intestinal lumen through the normal mechanism of lipids. In other words, fat-soluble vitamins are incorporated through mixed micelle along with other lipids and bile acids. The process is performed in the small intestine lumen, after which it enters the enterocyte through diffusion. In the enterocyte, the vitamins are incorporated through chylomicrons while it is exported through exocytosis. These vitamins are not directly absorbed into the bloodstream. However, they are synthesized in the lacteals through chylomicrons and hence transported lymphatic system, after which it released into the bloodstream.

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Elimination of water-soluble vitamins
The water-soluble vitamins, vitamin B and C, are directly passed into the blood after absorption. However, vitamin B12 needs a protein, an intrinsic factor, for absorption. These water-soluble vitamins are usually eliminated through urine. Some of them appear in the urine as free vitamins rather than as coenzymes such as thiamin, niacin, biotin, riboflavin, ascorbic acid, and pantothenic acid along with the metabolites of thiamin, niacin, and vitamin B6. When all these vitamins are taken in an adequate amount for body functioning, the excretion of these metabolites in urine is very low. All the water-soluble vitamins are eliminated through urine except vitamin B12, which is excreted in feces. Fecal excretion of folic acid and biotin also occur; however, these are not consumed but synthesized by intestinal bacteria.

Elimination of fat-soluble vitamins
The fat-soluble vitamins (A,D,E, and K) are transported to the blood from the intestines by lymph. Bile salts are responsible for their absorption in the intestine. Vitamin A binds with palmitic acid, a type of fatty acid, to form an ester for its transportation in the bloodstream. The rest three vitamins do not require fatty acids for their absorption. The fat-soluble vitamins are usually excreted in bile, thus appear in feces. The quinones, vitamin E and K, are reduced to sugar-like substances called alpha-lactones before excretion through urine. Vitamin A: The ester of vitamin A, retinoic acid, is metabolized into polar catabolites such as 5,6-epoxyretinoic acid and conjugates such as retinoyl β-glucuronide in the liver tissues and excreted in the bile. A minute amount of retinoic acid undergoes enterohepatic circulation, which is also eliminated via bile and urine. Vitamin D: The products of vitamin breakdown is only excreted in the form of feces and are not found in urine. Vitamin E: Vitamin E is stored in adipose tissues of the body, however, large amounts are found in the uterus and testis. The α-tocopherol form of vitamin E is incorporated with very low-density lipoprotein for its transfer in the whole body. It is then excreted by bile in the form of tocopheronic acid and carboxyethyl hydroxychromans, β- glucuronide conjugate of vitamin E. Vitamin K: Vitamin K is reduced to hydroquinone by the thiol-sensitive flavoprotein system. It is then conjugated to form β- glucuronide and sulfate esters which are then eliminated through urine.

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