Vitamin K is essential to your health but rarely discussed. It supports your vital organs, bodily functions, and helps maintain homeostasis. It is often used as a co-therapy for various diseases and conditions. You may not think about how much vitamin K you get but you should consider its benefits.
Vitamin K Deficiencies & your Health
While vitamin K deficiencies as recognized by the FDA are rare, they can be detrimental to your health. Recommended daily allowance for guys is around 120 micrograms. Ladies should get about 90.
Most people get this amount from the everyday foods they eat. Deficiencies can lead to an increased risk of bone fractures and developing osteoporosis. On the other hand, too much is risky for certain types of patients.
Vitamin K is responsible for the coagulating action in your blood. It helps stop you from bleeding when you get cut. Heart patients who routinely take blood thinners are often prescribed vitamin K shots to prepare for surgery.
Vitamin K & Osteogenesis
K compounds are fat soluble, and a limited amount is stored in fatty liver cells. They play a role in the protein synthesis actions within your liver. This, in turn, assists in both clotting and anticoagulation.
Osteocalcin is a bone-building protein which is vitamin K dependent. It binds to calcium and facilitates osteogenesis. It is important to maintain bone health, especially if you are a physically active person.
People who hit the gym or participate in competitive sports should pay close attention to their bone health. High-intensity exercises place physical demands on muscle and bone. Your skeleton protects your vital organs. Your muscles, ligaments, and tendons protect your bones.
Osteogenesis is the production of osteoblasts for the formation of bone.As individuals age osteogenesis rates decrease placing them at a higher risk for breaking bones and compromised bone repair. In some cases, patients are prescribed vitamin K to enhance bone development and strength.
Vitamin K & Cardiovascular Health
Some bodybuilders and professional athletes keep tabs on their heart health. After all, it’s one of the hardest working muscles in your body. The World Health Organization estimates that 31% of deaths across the globe are related to heart conditions. This means cardiovascular disorders take nearly 18 million lives annually (1).
Other fitness gurus often forget the importance of cardiovascular health. Or think since their bodies are beefed up, their hearts must be as well. Two of the best ways to promote your heart health is through nutrition and aerobic exercise.
It is believed that there is a strong correlation between reduced vitamin K intake and arterial calcification. The Castle Medical Center found these compounds play a key role atherosclerosis prevention (2). In other words, eat your greens to keep your arteries from hardening.
Vitamin K Sources
Just about all vitamins and supplements are available in a pill or powder. Those which are sourced naturally provide your body with the cleanest and most efficient forms of nutrients. There are tons of natural sources of vitamin K.
Some experts believe that Dandelions greens are one of the best natural sources of vitamin K. You can find them in supplement form and growing in your front yard. While you can forage for them, especially at this time of year, don’t go nabbing them from your local park.
One-quarter cup of dandelion greens provides most all people with their recommended daily allowance of vitamin K. They taste great raw in salads. Add your favorite salad ingredients and dressing. You can also prepare them however you cook your other types of greens.
Mustard beats out dandelion greens hands down. Turnips come in a close third in the vitamin K department. Some other natural sources include water chestnuts, yellow squash, and peas. Try creating your own stir fry to boost your vitamin K intake.
Vitamin K Precautions
The two forms readily available are vitamin K1 and K2. In the chemical world, these are referred to as phytonadione and menaquinone, respectively. K1 is thought to be safer, faster, and more effective than K2. Most people tolerate either form well, but there are a few exceptions.
In most cases, it’s believed that vitamin K1 is safest for children. Kids chewables generally contain this form. Healthy children following a well-rounded diet should not require supplementation.
The importance of vitamin K is important for fetal and infant development. It’s strongly recommended you consult a professional if you’re breastfeeding or pregnant before increasing your intake. During pregnancy excessive amounts have been known to cause jaundice in infants.
Excess vitamin K can be harmful to your kidneys, especially if you’re under the care of a nephrologist. Its role in kidney disease is a bit tricky. While some patients have a deficiency, high vitamin K levels can be dangerous in combination with dialysis treatment.
Diabetics should be aware that vitamin K1 can affect blood sugar levels.
Those considering supplementation should closely monitor their glucose. In general trials, it had no effect on insulin sensitivity, but you are better safe than sorry (3).
It can be counterproductive if you’re simultaneously being treated for coagulation and liver issues. Vitamin K has been shown to cause liver damage in rare cases. The exact mechanisms of this appear to be scientifically unclear at this time.
Gallbladder patients may need to supplement with bile salts while taking vitamin K. Bile assists your body in the absorption of it. You may need to prime your bile pump a bit to improve digestion.
Both forms of vitamin K are important to your health. You probably don’t need to increase your intake, unless you feel you’re at risk. Always be sure to consult your physician before implementing drastic dietary changes.