Vitamin K is required for the production of prothrombin, a protein and clotting factor involved in blood clotting and bone metabolism. People who use blood-thinning drugs like warfarin or Coumadin should see their doctor before increasing their vitamin K intake.
Although deficiency is uncommon, it can increase clotting time, resulting in bleeding and profuse bleeding in extreme instances.
Plants provide vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone. It is the most common form of vitamin K in the diet. Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, is a lesser-known substance that can be found in some animal-based and fermented foods.
Vitamin K-dependent proteins in our bodies are unable to function without the Ks. These proteins play an important role in essential processes such as blood coagulation and bone metabolism. MK-7, a kind of vitamin K2, protects against oxidative damage.
Consider Destiny’s Child, a formidable group with a slew of Grammy nominations. People, on the other hand, just speak about Beyonce. You might not have considered vitamin K previously since, well, it’s the Michelle Williams of the group (she was Destiny’s Child’s third member). Don’t worry; we’ll wait while you look it up on the internet).
Vitamin K, which is actually a collection of fat-soluble molecules, is essential for a number of bodily functions—we just credit these advantages to other vitamins and minerals.
Two forms of K are especially important for humans: vitamin K1 and K2. K1 is called phylloquinone when made naturally, phytonadione when made synthetically. And K2 is even a little more complicated. Called menaquinone when made naturally and menadione when made synthetically, K2 has many different forms.
Each is given a name depending on the length of a chemical structure’s side chain. Menaquinones are often expressed as menaquinone-7 (MK-7), which is typically present in fermented vegetable products, and menaquinone-4 (MK-4) in animal products.
There are more MKs, such as MK-5 and MK-6, but these two are the most essential. Despite the confusion and the many designations, K1 and K2 function on comparable structures and processes in the body, however K2 may provide heart-health advantages that K1 does not.
Vitamin K’s Uses
Plants contain phylloquinone, often known as vitamin K1. When individuals consume it, microorganisms in the large intestine convert it to vitamin K2, which is stored in the body. It’s absorbed in the small intestine and stored in the liver and fatty tissue.
The body cannot manufacture prothrombin, a clotting agent required for blood clotting and bone metabolism, without vitamin K.
The majority of Americans do not have a vitamin K deficiency. It is especially common in infants and those who have a malapsorption condition, such as short-bowel syndrome, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, or ulcerative colitis.
Vitamin K injections are given to newborns to prevent them against potentially deadly skull haemorrhage.
The recommended vitamin K consumption varies depending on age and gender. Women over 19 should ingest 90 micrograms (mcg) per day, while males should consume 120 mcg.
Vitamin K’s Benefits
We don’t want to go too far with this analogy, but let’s return to Michelle Williams for a moment. The previously ignored ex-member of the pop group demonstrated in 2019 on The Masked Singer that she has a great voice and has always been a valuable part of the group. So now is the time to discover what vitamin K can accomplish on its own.
Blood clotting is aided by this supplement.
When you think of clotting, you typically think of blood cells or platelets, but vitamin K is crucial to this process, which prevents you from bleeding excessively even from little injuries.
Factors II (prothrombin), VII, IX, and X are pro-blood clotting proteins, while proteins C, S, and Z are anticoagulant (anti-blood clotting) proteins.
Despite the importance of this procedure, some people clot too readily. Warfarin and other blood-thinning drugs function by blocking vitamin K’s effect.
Because of this, it is extremely important that individuals on warfarin keep their vitamin K levels steady. That means watching their vitamin K intake throughout the time they’re taking warfarin and getting regular blood tests done.
Prevent osteoporosis and promote bone health
Isn’t that calcium and vitamin D, though? This is where the Destiny’s Child scenario comes into play. Vitamin K-dependent proteins are really necessary for healthy bone health.
This fat-soluble vitamin is necessary for an enzyme called gamma-glutamyl carboxylase to function on the protein osteocalcin, which is essential for bone development, through a process called carboxylation .
Despite its important function in bone metabolism, it’s uncertain if vitamin K may help prevent bone fractures. According to previous study, consuming enough vitamin K can assist older men and women avoid bone loss and hip fractures.
K2 supplementation has also been proven to have potential advantages in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis, according to study. However, a meta-analysis discovered that vitamin K may aid with bone mineral density in certain but not all geographic areas.
More research is needed to explain the link and determine whether supplementing with the Ks will help prevent fractures, particularly hip fractures.
There appears to be a correlation between low intake of vitamin K and osteoporosis.
Several studies have suggested that vitamin K supports the maintenance of strong bones, improves bone density and decreases the risk of fractures. However, research has not confirmed this.
In elderly persons, it may help with memory
Vitamin K-dependent proteins (VKDP), which require vitamin K to function properly, have an impact on more than simply bone modelling.
The VKDPs that aren’t engaged in bone development or blood clotting are involved in sphingolipid metabolism, a kind of lipid prevalent in brain cell membranes and implicated in cellular processes.
Sphingolipid metabolic changes have been linked to age-related cognitive loss as well as neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Vitamin K antagonists, which are used as anticoagulants, may have a deleterious influence on visual memory, verbal fluency, and brain volume, according to new research. However, it does not appear to be going in a single direction.
Higher levels of vitamin K, especially phylloquinone (K1), are linked to better verbal episodic recall, while there was no change in non-verbal episodic memory.
Maintain a healthy blood pressure.
Vitamin K is particularly important for heart health since it can help prevent hypertension (high blood pressure) and lessen your risk of cardiovascular disease .
Hypertension has been connected to low vitamin D and K levels, which have been associated to increases in both systolic and diastolic blood pressure. Vitamin K, like vitamin D, interacts closely with calcium in your body, assisting in the regulation of calcium levels in your blood.
As we become older, vascular calcification—a process in which minerals like calcium accumulate in blood arteries, eventually limiting blood flow—becomes more frequent. However, consuming enough vitamin K may assist to avoid mineralization. staving off this process and keeping blood pressure lower.
Heart disease risk is reduced.
The calcification of your blood arteries is intimately linked to your risk of a cardiovascular incident.
In fact, a meta-analysis of 30 research indicated that the presence of calcification on any artery wall increases the risk of cardiovascular events by 300–400%.
However, greater blood levels of vitamin K1 are linked to a decreased risk of heart disease.
Vitamin K may help keep blood pressure lower by preventing mineralization, where minerals build up in the arteries. This enables the heart to pump blood freely through the body.
Mineralization naturally occurs with age, and it is a major risk factor for heart disease. Adequate intake of vitamin K has also been shown to lower the risk of stroke.
What is the best way to acquire enough vitamin K?
Low amounts of the Ks don’t have to be tough to avoid. Though some people may require dietary supplements, the majority of people may obtain adequate amounts of these fat-soluble vitamins from their diet. In fact, if you’re aiming to eat a healthy, balanced diet that’s low in processed foods, you’re probably already consuming a lot of vitamin K-rich foods.
Though some people will need to limit their vitamin K consumption, most people should focus on preventing vitamin K insufficiency rather than receiving too much. There is no set upper tolerated limit (UL) for this vitamin since there have been no studies or reports of negative effects from a high K consumption.
Vitamin K sources in the diet
Vitamin K1 is typically found in green vegetables, although it can also be found in legumes and berries.
Make sure green leafy vegetables like kale, Brussels sprouts, and collard greens receive plenty of rotation in your weekly food plan to enhance your vitamin K levels. Leafy greens may be readily included into a number of meals to increase nutritional intake while also ensuring that you don’t become bored or feel like you’re living on salads.
Vitamin K2 is typically found in animal-based products like eggs and liver (beef, chicken, or goose). Although your body has the ability to convert K1 to K2, studies believe the process is inefficient.
Despite the fact that K2 is available in modest amounts in food, it may be more effective to obtain this vitamin from your diet rather than depending on your body’s conversion mechanisms. , a fermented soy product, is the greatest food source of vitamin K2, with a 100-gram meal containing 775 micrograms (mcg) of the MK-7 form of vitamin K2.
Vitamin K1 occurs in high amounts in leafy green vegetables, such as kale and Swiss chard. Other sources include vegetable oils and some fruits.
Sources of menanoquines, or K2, include meat, dairy products, eggs, and Japanese “natto,” made from fermented soy beans.
Here are sample some food sources of vitamin K:
- 10 sprigs of parsley contains 90 micrograms (mcg)
- a 3-ounce serving of natto contains 850 mcg
- a half-cup serving of frozen and boiled collard greens contains 530 mcg
- one cup of raw spinach contains 145 mcg
- 1 tablespoon of soybean oil contains 25 mcg
- a half-cup serving of grapes contains 11 mcg
- a hard-boiled egg contains 4 mcg
Supplements containing vitamin K
Although there is minimal risk in taking a high-quality vitamin K supplement for the ordinary person, certain folks should avoid it.
Those on blood thinners should speak with their doctor about how to maintain their blood levels stable, as well as the impact that food and vitamins play. However, certain people, such as those with illnesses that make it difficult to absorb this and other vitamins from food, may benefit more from vitamin K supplements.
Malabsorption concerns in those with gastrointestinal diseases like Crohn’s disease or celiac disease, as well as those with cystic fibrosis, making supplements necessary to avoid insufficiency.