Vitamins: What Can Your Body Absorb?

A woman is holding various vitamin pills in her hands.You probably know that your body needs vitamins to develop and grow, but your body might have a difficult time absorbing some of these important nutrients.

What You Need 

You need the following 13 vitamins, and having low levels of some vitamins might lead to health problems, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH):

  • Vitamin A
  • Eight B vitamins (biotin, folate, niacin, pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamine, vitamin B-6 and vitamin B-12)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin D
  • Vitamin E
  • Vitamin K

The NIH notes you typically can get all your vitamins from a variety of foods you eat as part of a balanced diet. In addition, your body can make vitamins K and D.

What You Can Absorb

However, your body might not be benefiting from the vitamin- and mineral-rich foods that you’re eating because some vitamins might be difficult for your body to absorb, according to, which suggests these ways to increase vitamin absorption.

  • Consuming some dietary fat should help you to absorb vitamins A, D, E and K, which are fat-soluble. recommends adding a few nuts to a salad, some avocado to a sandwich or a teaspoon of olive oil to soup. However, it cautions you to add only plant fats and not to overdo it.
  • Adding vitamin C (ascorbic acid) to your meal – through a squirt of lime or lemon juice to beans or spinach – should help you absorb iron.
  • Getting 5 minutes of sun exposure about three times a week should help your body produce vitamin D, which helps you to fully absorb calcium. Salmon and other fatty fish, as well as fortified milk, are other sources of vitamin D.
  • Avoiding baking and boiling the water-soluble B vitamins and vitamin C, which are easily broken down when exposed to water and heat. recommends microwaving or steaming them instead. Some foods that contain vitamins B and C would be meat, eggs, broccoli, spinach, brussels sprouts, oranges or cantaloupes. 

The NIH says that some people might need vitamin supplements, but you should first talk to your health care provider about any risks.