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Vitamin A absorption and fat?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created July 18, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Well, I've been reading about Vitamin A and such, and they say that even perfectly healthy people don't convert beta carotene in plants to Vitamin a very efficiently. We would have to eat SO many plants to get a wee bit of vitamin A...UNLESS we eat it with ding ding ding FAT, which kinda makes sense...cause I feel like in the wild we would just be eating yummy liver and organs...but still!

How do you think our ancestors effectively absorbed the fat soluble vitamins if there wasn't a fat source to always eat them with. It's not like the scientifically studied their food like we do!

Now I'm going to put some coconut oil in my green smoothies :)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 18, 2013
at 12:46 PM

Liver is great and all, but 1 liver per animal means liver is an occasional food, not a daily (probably not weekly either) food. Our own livers bioconcentrate vitamin A, so it's not like we need to eat it daily to meet our needs. We can store excess and use as needed.

C6648ab69e5a1560c7585fe3ba7108fb

(880)

on July 18, 2013
at 12:35 PM

^This. Unless there's a specific advantage to efficient conversion, natural selection won't select for it. The only time this would be the case would be if Vitamin A-rich plants were scarce enough that a mutation for better conversion of Vitamin A would be beneficial enough to allow for clear selection pressure over a long period of time. This may have occurred in certain areas of the world, but certainly not in all areas, especially not in areas where hunting was an option (as you noted, liver is a great source of vitamin A because it's pre-concentrated by the animal)

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1 Answers

1
32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 18, 2013
at 11:58 AM

A thing to keep in mind: Biology is not efficient. Why would we effectively need to absorb them? They likely ate manyfold as much pro-vitamin A as we do now. Even poor converters would have enough given that level of consumption.

C6648ab69e5a1560c7585fe3ba7108fb

(880)

on July 18, 2013
at 12:35 PM

^This. Unless there's a specific advantage to efficient conversion, natural selection won't select for it. The only time this would be the case would be if Vitamin A-rich plants were scarce enough that a mutation for better conversion of Vitamin A would be beneficial enough to allow for clear selection pressure over a long period of time. This may have occurred in certain areas of the world, but certainly not in all areas, especially not in areas where hunting was an option (as you noted, liver is a great source of vitamin A because it's pre-concentrated by the animal)

32f5749fa6cf7adbeb0b0b031ba82b46

(41747)

on July 18, 2013
at 12:46 PM

Liver is great and all, but 1 liver per animal means liver is an occasional food, not a daily (probably not weekly either) food. Our own livers bioconcentrate vitamin A, so it's not like we need to eat it daily to meet our needs. We can store excess and use as needed.

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