Karen Collins, MS, RDN, CDN
American Institute for Cancer Research
Q: Is it true that I need to eat fat with vitamin D for it to be best absorbed?
A: Not necessarily. Vitamin D is classified as a “fat soluble” vitamin; it is absorbed out of the digestive tract packaged with fat. However, we don’t yet know exactly how much fat we need to get the maximum absorption of vitamin D. Overall, studies seem to show that as long as we consume some fat at meals and snacks throughout the day, vitamin D from food and supplements will be absorbed and increase vitamin D blood levels regardless of when we consume it that day. People likely differ from one another in how consuming vitamin D affects how much the body absorbs. There are people who have trouble absorbing vitamin D. One small study showed that people who did not absorb it well, had the highest blood levels of vitamin D when they took it with their largest meal of the day. And if you take weight loss medications that block fat absorption, that medication will decrease absorption of vitamin D. For most people, however, it appears that vitamin D consumed with food and meals that don’t contain fat will be absorbed and increase blood levels.
The American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) is the cancer charity that fosters research on the relationship of nutrition, physical activity and weight management to cancer risk, interprets the scientific literature and educates the public about the results. It has contributed more than $96 million for innovative research conducted at universities, hospitals and research centers across the country. AICR has published two landmark reports that interpret the accumulated research in the field, and is committed to a process of continuous review. AICR also provides a wide range of educational programs to help millions of Americans learn to make dietary changes for lower cancer risk. Its award-winning New American Plate program is presented in brochures, seminars and on its website, www.aicr.org. AICR is a member of the World Cancer Research Fund International.