Vitamin K. Quick Overview

Vitamin K is best known as the substance most responsible for blood coagulation. The letter, “K,” derives from its German name, Koagulationsvitamin, which signifies its ability to help blood clot or coagulate.

Boring……

I mean, while it is a very important function in the body, we have learned in this series that vitamins are much more entangled in many aspects of physiology than just serving one or two purposes.

So what about vitamin K?

Vitamin K helps make four of the 13 proteins needed for blood clotting. Its role in maintaining the clotting cascade is so important that people who take anticoagulants such as warfarin (Coumadin) must be careful to keep their vitamin K intake stable.

Lately, researchers have demonstrated that vitamin K is also involved in building bone. Low levels of circulating vitamin K have been linked with low bone density, and more leafy greens or supplementation with vitamin K shows improvements in biochemical measures of bone health. A report from the Nurses’ Health Study suggests that women who get at least 110 micrograms of vitamin K a day are 30 percent less likely to break a hip than women who get less than that.  Among the nurses, eating a serving of lettuce or other green, leafy vegetable a day cut the risk of hip fracture in half when compared with eating one serving a week. Data from the Framingham Heart Study also shows an association between high vitamin K intake and reduced risk of hip fracture in men and women and increased bone mineral density in women.

People who do not regularly eat a lettuce salad or green, leafy vegetables are likely to be deficient in their intake of vitamin K; national data suggests that only about one in four Americans meets the goal for vitamin K intake from food.

Other than Vitamin K’s two natural vitamers, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2, synthetic forms of vitamin K are also available in the market. When phylloquinone-containing vegetable oils such as soybean, canola or cottonseed are hydrogenated during food processing, a hydrogenated form of vitamin K, dihydro-vitamin K, is also formed. High concentrations of dihydro-vitamin K occur in processed foods, especially fast food French fries, doughnuts and potato chips. Obviously, these are not healthy foods and should not be consumed as a source of vitamin K.

Non-plant forms of vitamin K, the menaquinones (MK), are present in some animal foods and in products derived from bacterial fermentation [e.g., milk, meats, certain organs (liver), fermented soybean products and fermented cheeses]. Vitamin K1 is a common U.S. supplement customers can obtain from food and pharmacies. It can be found in tablet capsule, and liquid forms, depending on the preference of the customer. A healthy, average diet does not generally lack in vitamin K.  The problem is, most people do not eat a healthy diet and most Americans are deficient in at least one vitamin. Postmenopausal women and newborn infants are at a higher risk of deficiency. Those who suffer from liver disorders can also face higher likelihood of developing vitamin K deficiency. Beside hemorrhage, common symptoms of vitamin K deficiency also includes anemia, bruising, bleeding of the gum of nose, and heavy menstrual bleeding in women.

In HealthSavor dishes, you’ll see a whole lot of green leafy vegetables, such as kale, spinach, turnip greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, parsley, and romaine, as well as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage. These vegetables have tons of other great things about them, but all are great sources of vitamin K. Just another reason why I use the ingredients that I use.

References

1.Weber P. Vitamin K and bone health. Nutrition. 2001; 17:880–7.

2.Feskanich D, Weber P, Willett WC, Rockett H, Booth SL, Colditz GA. Vitamin K intake and hip fractures in women: a prospective study. Am J Clin Nutr. 1999; 69:74–9.

3.Booth SL, Tucker KL, Chen H, et al. Dietary vitamin K intakes are associated with hip fracture but not with bone mineral density in elderly men and women. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000; 71:1201–8.

4.Booth SL, Broe KE, Gagnon DR, et al. Vitamin K intake and bone mineral density in women and men. Am J Clin Nutr. 2003; 77:512–6.

5.Moshfegh A, Goldman, J., Cleveland, L. . What We Eat In America. NHANES 2001–2002: Usual Nutrient Intakes from Food Compared to Dietary Reference Intakes. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2005.

About Chef Brandon

bkaleChef Brandon Schlunt is co-owner of HealthSavor, a Cincinnati Ohio based healthy, organic, gluten-free meal delivery service, created to help busy families, individuals and children eat nutritious meals easily and affordably. Chef Brandon focuses on helping his customers lose weight, lower their blood sugar and feels very honored to have earned the trust of many doctors, students, parents, athletes, and on-the-go businessmen and women all over the city. In his non-existent spare time, Chef B enjoys music, hanging with his daughter and fiance, and continuing his education in nutrition.

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