Fat is not the enemy! In a world full of grocery stores packed to the max with low-fat this and non-fat that, it’s easy to be confused. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you can eat doughnuts and cook with Crisco. Quit that. What I am saying is that good fats are essential to body functions. Specifically, vitamins A, E, D and K are all fat-soluble, which means they are transported by fat cells and not water, like vitamin C and the B vitamins. So if you don’t have enough fats to do the transporting, you will not receive an adequate supply of these key nutrients.
I’ll quickly run down what the primary functions of each vitamin are:
Vitamin A: is principally responsible for vision functions. It is most commonly and naturally found in the form of beta-carotene. Beta-carotene causes the foods it is in to have an orange pigment. Your parents were right when they told you to eat your carrots to help you see… kind of. Another example of a beta-carotene rich food is a sweet potato. Deficiency in Vitamin A can result in night-blindness, dry skin and hair, and increased frequency for urinary, digestive and respiratory infections.
Vitamin D: can be synthesized by the sun! Go outside! (without sunscreen, gasp!) It is necessary for calcium absorption by the body. You know you need calcium for bone and teeth health. It helps production of a variety of cells that fight disease and infection. It is as vital to the immune system as vitamin C. (People are more often sick in the winter-they are outside less then, too… connection?) Research is being done on cancer treatments using vitamin D.
Vitamin E: is usually in the form of tocopherols and is mainly an antioxidant. This means that it protects you from the free radicals from the bad fats you eat. In the same way it protects skin from ultra violet rays. It promotes DNA repair and is crucial in forming red blood cells. Signs of vitamin E deficiency in infants include poor physical and mental development and delayed growth. Deficiency symptoms include ruptured red blood cells, abnormal fat deposits, degenerative changes in muscles, and neurological disorders. It is also associated with pancreatic, gallbladder, liver, and celiac diseases characterized by poor nutrient absorption from the digestive tract.
Vitamin K: is required for blood coagulation and that is its most famous function. It is also used in the pathways for blood and tissues. Infants are at an increased risk for deficiency, but most people receive enough from their diets.
These vitamins can be stored in fat in the body for later use. Toxicity can occur from too much of these vitamins, but it is impossible to get too much vitamin D from the sun. Your body just won’t synthesize it–change it to a useable form. Most all toxicity cases are from supplementation of the vitamins, not from food. You will not get vitamin A toxicity from eating too many carrots.
So if you don’t have any fats to transport these essential nutrients, your health will suffer. In fact, your body may think it is starving if it can’t receive its key nutrients. It may then start to store everything! So by eating that low-fat cracker, besides ingesting bad oils, flour and preservatives, you are actually sabotaging your weight loss! Your body should not have to search for nutrients and the means to transport them from your diet. It is imperative to have fats in your diet.
Of course there are stipulations. Like I said, doughnuts won’t do. Bad fats are mostly what cause free radicals. At high temperatures vegetable and canola oils hydrogenate producing free radicals. Remember free radicals do damage on a cellular level. So as far as oils go, use coconut oil in cooking because it is stable at higher temperatures. Most of the hype on olive oil is correct, it just cannot physically be used at high temperatures because it smokes. Avocados are another fantastic source of good fats. Plenty of Omega-3s in those guys. Buy full-fat yogurt! It has to go through extra processes to remove the fat anyway.
Don’t starve your body, give it what it needs to run properly!
By: Ashley Dance