Vitamin K is absolutely essential to facilitating blood clotting, building strong bones, preventing heart disease, and a crucial part of other bodily processes.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It refers to two naturally occurring fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin K1, and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is also known as phylloquinone or phytomenadione (phytonadione), while vitamin K2 includes menaquinone and menatetrenone. Your body stores vitamin K in fat tissue and in the liver, although this vitamin originates in the intestinal tract.
As with other vitamins, you need to eat foods containing vitamin K. However, it is also produced in your body. Certain bacteria inside the human intestinal tract produce vitamin K for most people, although in rare cases not in sufficient quantity. In these cases, you must maintain a healthy diet with foods rich in vitamin K.
Vitamin K is crucial for proper blood coagulation (clotting) – it helps make 4 of the 13 proteins required for blood clotting. Vitamin K is actually a group of chemicals that your body uses to make specialized proteins found in blood plasma, such as prothrombin, the protein chiefly responsible for blood clotting. You also need vitamin K to make bone and kidney tissues.
Recent evidence suggests vitamin K is an important adjunct to vitamin D, and if you are deficient in one, neither works optimally in your body. As you may already know, vitamin D is a key player in your overall health.
Like vitamin D, vitamin K is also involved in maintaining good bone health as we age. This vitamin helps your body build up strong bones because it helps create a protein that binds calcium, rather than let the calcium pass out of your system. Vitamin D increases calcium absorption; vitamin K activates at least three different proteins that take part in forming new bone cells. For example, a report on 888 men and women from the long-running Framingham Heart Study shows that those who consumed the least vitamin K each day had the highest incidence of broken bones. The same was true for a 1999 analysis of data from the Nurses’ Health Study.
If you are concerned about osteoporosis, make sure to get enough vitamin K in your diet.
Foods containing vitamin K are dark green leafy vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, cabbage, kale, and green leaf lettuce; dairy products like cottage cheese; soybeans and soy milk; and blackberries, blueberries, grapes and the juices made from these. Many other fruits contain vitamin K, as well.
Although the exact dosing for vitamin K is yet to be determined, it has been recommended between 45 mcg and 185 mcg daily for adults. You must use caution on the higher doses if you take anticoagulants.