Vitamin K is not talked about as much as some of the other well known vitamins, such as vitamins B, C, D etc.
However, there are many excellent benefits which vitamin K can offer you, and it should not be ignored!
What is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, well known due to the vital role it plays when it comes to forming blood clotting proteins. However, it also plays a key role when it comes to other bodily functions, such as building and repairing strong bones and helping to prevent cardiovascular related diseases.
There are 3 different types of vitamin K:
1) Vitamin K1
Otherwise known as phylloquinone. It can be found natural in plants such as leafy green vegetables. Vitamin K1 goes straight to the liver where it is metabolised and helps to ensure that your blood clots normally and effectively.
2) Vitamin K2
Also known as menaquinone. This type of vitamin K is synthesised by bacteria lining the gastrointestinal tract. Vitamin K2 is sent directly to the blood vessel walls, and other tissues around your liver such as bones to ensure they function normally.
3) Vitamin K3
This is also known as menadione. This is a synthetic form of vitamin K3 and can be toxic if taken in too large a dose.
When it comes to supplementation, vitamin K2 is recommended by most. This is because it is natural and synthesised within our bodies.
Benefits of Vitamin K
Other than the most widely known benefits which vitamin K offers, such as effective blood clotting, there are many other amazing benefits which supplementing with it can offer.
✓ Helps Osteoporosis Prevention
Supplementing with vitamin K may help to prevent you from contracting osteoporosis, where bones waste away and lose function. It is useful to think of vitamin K as a ‘glue’ which helps to hold bones together. A number of studies have shown that vitamin K may not only prevents bone loss, but it even increase bone mass.
✓ Prevent Excess Bleeding
This is beneficial for those with liver disease, as Vitamin K may reduce the threat of bleeding within the liver – also preventing excessive menstrual bleeding in women who are/were previously deficient in vitamin K. Similarly, it could help reduce menstrual pain by regulating hormones effectively.
✓ Aids Weight Loss
Since vitamin K improves insulin sensitivity, it could play a part in aiding weight loss. This is due to the fact that insulin is a powerful hormone that signals fat to be stored. If you become more sensitive to it, then less needs to be produced, and therefore you store less fat.
✓ Helps Protect the Heart
Vitamin K2 has the ability to potentially prevent atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), which can lead to heart attacks and strokes. Vitamin K2 helps by preventing calcium from accumulating within the arteries, preventing the formation of a fibrous plaque which can lead to atheroma formation. In doing so, this may help prevent many cardiovascular related diseases.
✓ Can Prevent Type 2 Diabetes
Vitamin K may play a part in preventing the development of type 2 diabetes – this is due to the fact that it can improve insulin sensitivity, and decrease the amount of calcium that is deposited in the bones.
✓ Promotes Healthy Digestion and Immune System
Studies have also showed that supplementing with vitamin K can play a part in boosting your immune system, as well as the digestive system.
Dietary Sources of Vitamin K
When it comes to obtaining vitamin K through our diets, there are many different food which we can eat in order to boost our intake. The most common of which are green leafy vegetables, as previously mentioned.
Green leafy vegetables
✓ Some of the most recommended are broccoli, kale, spinach, green tea, asparagus, cucumbers, dark green lettuce etc.
This is due to the fact that chlorophyll, the photosynthetic pigment in plants which absorbs light for use in photosynthesis, provides the plant with vitamin K. Plants with a higher chlorophyll concentration are generally more green in colour and often a darker green. This is a good indication for the vegetables to look out for.
It has been reported that freezing vegetables and other foods containing vitamin K can actually destroy it (vitamin K) and so it is not advised. However, cooking foods does not seem to have an effect on the vitamin K in vegetables so it is fine to cook them as you wish.
There are a plethora of fruits and vegetables containing Vitamin K, some of which include:
✓ Avocado, soybeans, berries such as cranberries, raspberries, blueberries and other fruit e.g. pears and plums.
Vitamin K deficiency is uncommon, however there are several signs that you may indeed be deficient.
– Excessive bleeding
– Heavy menstrual periods
– Urine containing blood
– Tender/easy bruising
– Liquid oozing from nose or gums
– Bleeding from gastrointestinal tract
You may also be at higher risk of vitamin K deficiency if you fall under any of these categories:
– Heavy alcohol drinker
– Suffer from a disease which affects absorption during digestion, such as celiac disease
If you do feel that you may be vitamin K deficient, you should consult your GP before you attempt any form of supplementation in order to get a proper diagnosis.
Vitamin K Supplements
Vitamin K is most commonly supplemented in the form of multivitamins. These are widely available, and can be bought generally or gender specifically, such as our Alpha Men and Active Women multivitamins.
These are recommended due to the plethora of other vitamins that they contain, that boost other health benefits and work in hand with vitamin K. You can read more about other vitamins here.
Take Home Message
Although vitamin K is somewhat ‘the forgotten vitamin’, it does have many benefits which help to keep your body working properly and efficiently.
Since it can be purchased in the form of multivitamins, you do not need to worry specifically about vitamin K, as you will get sufficient amounts of it from the multivitamins as well as through your diet, as long as you ensure you eat enough green veg!