• Jasmine Blake Hollywood, MS, HHP

How is Low Fat Dieting bad for You?

Updated: Sep 18


Maleficence of Low Fat Diets


Low-fat dieting is a topic to discuss because many people try to do adopt low-fat dieting practices to gain optimal health. Sometimes people use low-fat diets to try to lose weight. It seems justified that eating less fat will help prevent fat gain, but eating less fat can actually be hazardous to your health. In fact, the reason why trying low-fat diets are harmful is that a person is not getting the adequate fat content needed for the body's metabolic processes, which can prevent the absorption of other important vitamins.


For example, aA low-fat diet can reduce vitamins A, D, E, and K. This is because these vitamins are fat-soluble. Meaning, they require dietary fats in order to be absorbed. So, if you are not getting fat, then it would be quite difficult to absorb these.


If considering low-fat dieting, a person must be sure that they are supplementing these vitamins. This is especially true when eating fatty products such as kinds of butter, yogurts, cheeses, milk, avocados, nuts, and fatty meats. This supplementation will ensure you are absorbing these nutrients. As well, supplementation will help put other nutrients to good use.

The Importance of Vitamins A, D, E, and K


Why are these nutrients important? Not getting the right amount of these fat-soluble vitamins can lead to health problems. For example, a person could experience vision and skin issues due to a lack of vitamin A. Or, a person could experience low calcium levels, skeletal pain, or bone problems due to the reduction of vitamin D. As well, a person could experience circulatory issues due to lack of vitamin E, which is a powerful antioxidant of circulating lipids. Furthermore, a person could experience thinning of the blood due to a lack of vitamin K.


Low-Fat Diets and Weight Loss


By now you should be well aware that low-fat dieting is not a good choice for optimal health. So, let’s discuss why a low-fat diet doesn’t have to be practiced for weight loss. Ketogenic lifestyles have been maintained for decades. This lifestyle particularly focuses on eating more healthy fats and the reduction of an overabundance of carbohydrates. Let's face it, our societies now eat this way regularly. Increasing fats and reducing carbohydrates actually sparks weight loss. As well, eating healthier fats like nuts, avocados, and coconuts has been clinically proven to reduce conditions such as heart disease and even ease up digestive conditions.


Consuming enough fat to help absorb nutrients is required for metabolic functioning.

Vitamin A


  • Vitamin A is needed for hair, skin, and especially eyesight.

  • Vitamin A works in conjunction with vitamin D to help gene expression within our cells, helps with tissue development, and helps with many other functions.

The RDA for vitamin A for adults over 18 yrs of age is 900 iu/d and the AI is 9,333 ui/d.

The foods that are richest in Vitamin A are liver, dark leafy veggies, and broccoli, as well as any orange-colored, yellow-colored, or red-colored, fruits, and veggies.


It should be established that beta-carotene is the precursor for vitamin A. Meaning, you need beta-carotene to make vitamin A. Also, beta-carotene is the only type of vitamin A found in vegetable foods. The vegetables that have beta-carotene specifically have carotenoids and not retinoids. Therefore, if trying to specifically acquire vitamin A, one can only retrieve it in it's converted form. This form is called preformed vitamin A and is found only in animal foods.


Even more importantly, if your body cannot turn over beta-carotene, then you will need preformed vitamin. You can find preformed vitamin A in its highest amounts in liver.


Vitamin D


  • Vitamin D is needed to help absorb calcium into the bones to strengthen bones.

  • Vitamin D helps immune activity, brain and nervous system functions, and helps with thyroid regulation along with many other functions.


The RDA for vitamin D for an adult over 18 yrs of age is AI 600 iu/d and the UL is 4,000 ui/d.

Foods richest in Vitamin D are liver, meats, dairy, fish, and fish oils (cod), and mushrooms.


People should know that a deficit in vitamin D leads to serious health complications. With a vitamin D deficiency, it can become difficult for bones to bear the weight of the human body. Eventually, bones can bend easily, fracture, or even break. In children, a vitamin D deficit can cause a disease that scientists like to call Rickets. In adults, it is known as Osteomalacia.


Vitamin E


  • Vitamin E key functions are antioxidant regulation.

  • Vitamin E also help regulate cell signaling, gene expression, expression and activation of immune system components, and enhance vasodilation, along with many other functions. Vasodilation is the expansion of blood vessels. This expansion helps get nutrients to other cells and tissues.


The RDA for vitamin E for adults over 19 yrs of age is 22.4 iu/d and the AI is 1,500 ui/d.

Foods richest in Vitamin E are nuts and nut oils, dark leafy greens, olive oil, whole grains, and wheat germ.


It should be established that vitamin E is a factor in cardiovascular health. Keeping adequate levels of vitamin E in circulation can help reduce free radicals. These free radicals can do serious damage to arteries and heart muscle. Vitamin E aims to scavenge these free radicals for the body to redirect them for detoxification. Ultimately, this helps to reduce oxidative destruction to blood vessels, arteries, and heart muscle.

Vitamin K


  • Vitamin K is key for the metabolism of blood clotting.

  • Vitamin k also helps control bone mineralization and cell growth, along with many other functions.


The RDA for vitamin K for males over 18 yrs of age is 120 iu/d, for females is 90 iu/d.

Foods richest in Vitamin K are dark leafy greens, broccoli, and veggie oils.


The biggest factor about vitamin K is it works very well with vitamin D. Vitamin D enables the production of special proteins that need vitamin K to work. This actually helps increase bone health and cardiovascular health.


Part of the problem is not very many people get enough vitamin K in their diets.

There are two forms of vitamin K, but scientists speculate if they work better in singular form or better together. Vitamin K1 is called phylloquinone and is found in vegetables such as broccoli and dark leafy greens. Vitamin K2 is called menaquinone and is found in animal-related products. Only living organisms can make K2. This form can be found in dairy products or from bacteria. Therefore vitamin k2 can be made in the human colon and through the process of fermented vegetables. vitamin K2 (menaquinone, mainly found in fermented dairy and produced by lactic acid bacteria in the intestine)


The Take Home


Overall we need fat-soluble vitamins to help keep our bodies nourished and functioning properly and neglecting to eat them with the proper fats will only diminish the absorption of them. To conclude, fat vitamins are great for cardiovascular processes, bone health, vision, and reduction of free radicals. So, eat your healthy fats and live well!


References:

  1. Lieberman, M. & Peet, A. (2018). Mark’s basic medical biochemistry: A clinical approach (5th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Wolter Kluwer

  2. Mahan, L. K. & Raymond, J. L. (2017). Krause’s food and the nutrition care process (14th ed.). St. Louis MO: Elsevier

  3. Ross, C. A., Caballero, B., Cousins, R. J., Tucker, K. L., & Ziegler, T. R., (2014). Modern nutrition in health and disease, (11th ed.) PA: Wolters Kluwer.

  4. Ross, A. C., Taylor, C. L., Yaktine, A. L., and Del Valle, H. B. (2011). Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs) : Recommended Dietary Allowances and Adequate Intakes, Elements [Summary Tables: Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D]. Food and Nutrition Board, Institute of Medicine US Committee to Review Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin D and Calcium, National Academies. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK56068/table/summarytables.t3/?report=objectonly

  5. Van Ballegooijen, A. J., Pilz, S., Tomaschitz, A., Grübler, M. R., & Verheyen, N. (2017). The Synergistic Interplay between Vitamins D and K for Bone and Cardiovascular Health: A Narrative Review. International journal of endocrinology, 2017, 7454376. https://doi.org/10.1155/2017/7454376

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