Vitamin K is probably one of the lesser-known vitamins. What is it actually responsible for and how do we know we are getting enough of it?
Here are some quick facts you need to know.
Before you go on, make sure to seek advice from your doctor before taking supplements of vitamin K, since excessive use of the medical-grade vitamin can cause side effects and interact with other drugs. A healthy and balanced diet can provide more than enough of the necessary vitamin K for your body!
Vitamin K is named after the German word for blood clotting (koagulation). In fact, this is probably the most common connection that people make with vitamin K—they associate this vitamin with the process of blood clotting.
There are three basic types of vitamin K. Their common names are K1, K2, and K3.
The K1 form of vitamin K is found in plant foods. The K2 form of vitamin K is made from K1 and K3 by bacteria and other microorganisms. It can also be made in the human body through a conversion process involving K1 and K3.
Vitamin K synthesizes proteins which are essential to clot blood and stop bleeding. A deficiency can cause excessive bruising or bleeding.
It collaborates with vitamin D to lead calcium to the bones and help it bind to them to make your bones stronger. Low levels of vitamin K can lead to an increased risk of fracture.
Other benefits of vitamin K that have been proposed, but are not fully scientifically proven, include protection from the calcification of arteries and valves and a reduced risk of both Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin K varies depending on age, gender, and weight. However, according to the UK's NHS, a simple guide for adults is 0.001mg of vitamin K for every 1kg (2.20lbs) of body weight.
Recently, some people have looked to vitamin K2 to treat osteoporosis and steroid-induced bone loss, but the research is conflicting. At this point there is not enough data to recommend using vitamin K2 for osteoporosis
Here are the top sources to get your daily dose of vitamin K:
Herbs such as basil, sage, thyme, parsley, coriander,and chives.
Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, mustard greens, pumpkin leaves, spinach and other greens.
Salad greens such as spring onions, lettuce, celery, and iceberg lettuce.
Vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower.
Hot spices such as cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, and curry.
Other great sources: okra, pickles, soybeans, olive oil, and dried fruit.
Outside of the vegetable family, you will find kiwifruit, blueberries, prunes, and grapes amount the most vitamin K-rich fruit sources, and soybeans is a good legume source.
Some animal foods—including pasture-raised eggs, pasture-raised chicken, grass-fed beef, grass-fed lamb, grass-fed cheese, and grass-fed cow's milk—contain measurable amounts of vitamin K, as do shrimp, sardines, tuna, and salmon.