Classification of Vitamins: Water-soluble & Fat-soluble

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  • 0:01 Vitamins
  • 0:57 Fat-Soluble Vitamins
  • 2:32 Water-Soluble Vitamins
  • 5:30 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Vitamins are classified based on their solubility. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K. They can be stored in the body. The water-soluble vitamins are the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. They are easily flushed out of the body.


When we hear about vitamins, we tend to associate them with good health. This is why so many food manufacturers love to brag about the vitamin content of their foods. Breakfast cereal boxes have bold lettering letting you know that they are packed with vitamins, and even sports drinks have added vitamins to boost their appeal. Vitamins are organic compounds that are essential for the proper functioning of your body. You get vitamins from the foods you eat, but you can also get them from vitamin supplements.

In total, you need 13 vitamins for good health, and they were initially named in the alphabetical order that they were discovered. Since their initial discovery, this order has gone through some revisions, and the vitamins got somewhat shuffled around and classified into two main groups. So, the purpose of this lesson is to sort through the alphabet soup of vitamins and provide some tricks to help you remember how they are classified.

Fat-Soluble Vitamins

Vitamins are classified by their solubility, or, in other words, the vitamin's ability to dissolve into another substance. For instance, fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins that dissolve in fat. Because fat is easily stored in your body, fat-soluble vitamins can be stored within your fat. This means they can accumulate and be saved for later use. The fat-soluble vitamins are A, D, E and K.

Now these four letters represent four different vitamins, but if you try to pronounce them like they spell a word, then you might pronounce them as 'attic.' So, a great little memory jogger for recalling the fat-soluble vitamins is 'The fat cat is in the ADEK (attic).' These vitamins are important to the normal functioning of your body.

For example, did your mom ever tell you to eat your carrots so you could see better at night? This is because carrots contain vitamin A, which helps with vision. Or, maybe your mom was one to tell you to go outside and play in the sunshine. This was also good advice because exposure to the sun helps your body make vitamin D, which is a vitamin that helps calcium absorption for healthy bones.

Vitamin E helps with your 'immunit-E' because it works as an antioxidant protecting your cells from free radicals. And vitamin K is needed for blood clotting, or would it help you recall this fact if you spelled clotting with a 'K' and thought of vitamin K as the blood 'K-lotting' vitamin?

Water-Soluble Vitamins

If a vitamin is not fat-soluble, then it is classified as one of the water-soluble vitamins, which are vitamins that dissolve in water. Because your body is a watery environment, these vitamins can move through your body pretty easily, and they can also be flushed out in your urine with ease. So, your body does not store water-soluble vitamins, and you need to replenish them daily.

Water-soluble vitamins include the B-complex vitamins and vitamin C. The B vitamins were initially thought to be just one vitamin, but later it was discovered that they were a group of vitamins with different characteristics; this is why B vitamins have numbers and different names. There are eight B vitamins, including vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B7, B9 and B12.

Some of the vitamins, such as vitamin B6 and B12, are usually referenced by their numbers, but all eight of these B vitamins have a corresponding name. In order, their names are thiamine, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, pyridoxine, biotin, folate and cobalamin. Now, remembering all of the names of the B vitamins can seem a bit like trying to figure out a riddle, so it might help you to recall the B vitamins by using the mnemonic, 'These Riddles Need Practice, Practice Builds Future Character.'

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