Vitamin Deficiencies With Symptoms of Fat Malabsorption

Malabsorption is caused by your intestines not being able to absorb nutrients from your body. If you have impaired fat absorption, you may also have problems absorbing certain vitamins. This can usually be remedied by taking vitamin supplements, but you should talk to your doctor before taking any sort of vitamin supplement.

Some vitamins are better absorbed in fat. (Image: phongphan5922/iStock/Getty Images)

Fat Malabsorption

Fat malabsorption may occur if your small intestines are damaged or inflamed. Inflammation reduces the surface area of your intestines, causing them to be unable to absorb nutrients effectively. This can be due to infections that cause diarrhea as well as inflammatory bowel disease, such as Crohn's and ulcerative colitis. Some medications, such as orlistat, interfere with the absorption of fat and also cause fat malabsorption.

Fat Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins can be divided into two classes: fat and water soluble. Water-soluble vitamins dissolve easily in the water-based fluid in your digestive tract. Fat-soluble vitamins, on the other hand, do not dissolve well in water and need to be dissolved in fatty substances to be well absorbed. As a result, if you cannot absorb fats efficiently, your intestines may also have problems absorbing these vitamins, resulting in a deficiency.

Vitamins A, D, E and K

The fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins A, D, E and K. Vitamin A is important for the function of your retinas and a lack of this vitamin can cause night blindness and other vision problems. Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and bone strength; a vitamin D deficiency causes low calcium levels and weakened bones. The main function of vitamin E is to serve as an antioxidant, but there is no known syndrome of a deficiency. Blood clotting requires vitamin K and a lack of this vitamin can cause poor blood clotting.

Treatment

If you have a health problem that interferes with fat absorption, you may need to take vitamin supplements to prevent or correct vitamin deficiencies. However, you should talk to your doctor before taking vitamin deficiencies to determine if you need them and to learn about the right dose. High doses of some vitamins, such as vitamin A and D, can be toxic in high doses and cause serious health problems.

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