Most people don't know that Vitamin K is very important to their health. Vitamin K can be called a "teamwork" vitamin because this vitamin does not work on its own. Instead, it works with several proteins, vitamins and minerals in our body to make sure we stay healthy. Keep reading to discover more about the "teamwork" vitamin.
What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It exists in two forms, namely, Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. Strong evidence suggests that Vitamin K promotes bone health and blood clotting. These studies also show that Vitamin K prevents high blood pressure, liver cancer and improves memory in older adults. Vitamin K1 and K2 are found in different foods. While we can get Vitamin K1 from eating green leafy vegetables, Vitamin K2 is contained in other foods like chicken, butter etc.
So, how does Vitamin K works in our body? First, Vitamin K assists some proteins in our body to perform their function inside our cells. Secondly, Vitamin K can interact with other minerals in our body to regulate and ensure that we do not have surplus vitamins and minerals in our blood.
Foods High in Vitamin K
We can supply our bodies with Vitamin K1 by eating green leafy vegetables and some plant-based oils. These foods include:
- Collard green
- Turnip greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Olive oil
- Soybean oil
- Canola oil
Vitamin K2 can be found in animal-based foods and some fermented dishes. Some rich examples include:
- Natto/Fermented soybeans
- Egg yolks
Benefits of Vitamin K
1. Promotes blood clotting
Blood clotting prevents excessive bleeding from our body anytime we are injured. But first, certain proteins and cells in our blood must stick together before a blood clot can form. These proteins rely on Vitamin K before they can function well. So, when you get hurt, Vitamin K makes your blood coagulate (thicken like fried eggs) to stop the bleeding. However, the process doesn't stop there. After the bleeding is stopped and you begin to heal, Vitamin K stimulates anti-blood-clotting proteins that break down the blood clot and remove them from the body.
2. Supports Strong Bones
There is developing evidence that Vitamin K can help patients with osteoporosis. Vitamin K stimulates osteocalcin- an important protein used for building bone and promoting bone strength in our body. After eating Vitamin K rich foods, this fat-soluble vitamin teams up with enzymes and osteocalcin proteins to produce enough bone growth cells. So, scientists discovered that inducing healthy bone growth with Vitamin K can rapidly increase bone strength and prevent fractures caused by osteoporosis.
In a 2008 experiment, Scientists gave a 5 mg daily dose of Vitamin K1 to 440 postmenopausal women living with osteoporosis. The treatment lasted for 2 years. After the experiment, the doctors recorded a 50% reduction in bone fracture even though there was a low improvement in bone mineral density of the patients.
3. Can Preserve Brain Health In Senior Adults
Vitamin K dependent proteins can also be found in our brain. These brain proteins help brain cells to perform some chemical processes needed by the cells to survive. Thus, having low Vitamin K can affect this process resulting in the death of brain cells. This is why senior adults experience brain conditions such as Alzheimer's and Dementia. So, a rapid way of preserving brain functions like vision, memory is by eating Vitamin K rich foods.
4. Prevents High Blood Pressure
One of the causes of high blood pressure is having too many minerals deposited in your blood vessels. For example, when too much calcium is transported through your veins and arteries, some leftovers can clog the blood flow. Over time, this may lead to high blood pressure and other heart diseases. Vitamin K acts as a calcium regulator in our body. This fat-soluble vitamin will ensure that the amount of calcium flowing through your blood vessels is not too much. It also makes sure that leftover minerals attached to the walls of arteries are flush out before they can cause any harm.
5. May Prevent Liver Cancer
In a 2012 study, Vitamin K2 was found to inhibit cancer cell growth in people living with liver cancer. However, more study is also needed to unravel the role of Vitamin K.
Vitamin K And Warfarin: Are There Any Side Effects?
Vitamin K and Warfarin have some risky interactions if taken together. Warfarin is a drug prescribed to treat and prevent blood clots in patients. For example, patients who just finished a hip or knee surgery can use warfarin to prevent risk of a blood clot.
As a treatment medication, warfarin is used by people who have had a condition caused by a blood clot. These patients include those suffering from a stroke, heart attack and deep vein thrombosis. So, if you are taking warfarin, the amount of Vitamin K in your food may affect how the medicine works. This means that eating too much Vitamin K foods can reduce warfarin's anti-clotting ability. If you are on a warfarin medication, you should not stop eating Vitamin K foods. Instead, add a small amount of Vitamin K to your diet and make sure that the amount you are eating is consistent.
How Much Vitamin K Do I Need?
Adults can take between 70 to 90 micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin K daily. You should be able to get all the Vitamin K you need by eating a balanced diet. As a fat-soluble vitamin, our body can store surplus Vitamin K in the liver for future use.
Taking a supplement is another way of supplying your body with Vitamin K. However, if you take vitamin K supplements, make sure you stick to a prescribed dose. Vitamin K supplements are generally safe but taking too much vitamin K might be harmful. Lastly, if you are taking warfarin, consult a doctor first before taking Vitamin K supplements.
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