What is Vitamin K?
K vitamins are a group of soluble vitamins required for posttranslational modification of certain proteins involved primarily in blood clotting and also in the tissue metabolism and bone health. Vitamin K is essential to the blood system, to allow proper coagulation and good healing in case of injury. When someone is injured and bleeding, vitamin K, naturally present in the blood that will help stop the bleeding and to heal small cuts quickly.
The name Vitamin K comes from the German Coagulation, an allusion to its renowned role in blood clotting. Vitamin K promotes the flexibility of the arteries and the condition of the blood vessels, tendons, cartilage and other connective tissues. New properties were discovered most recently, for example in the control of inflammatory conditions in the cell division in cell migration in cell specialization.
The different forms of vitamin K
There are three different types of vitamin K
- The first variant is vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone. This type of vitamin K found in plant foods. It’s insoluble in water but soluble in fats and is present (in pure form) as a yellow oil.
- The second form is vitamin K2, also called menaquinone. This vitamin is produced by bacteria present in the intestines.
- The last known form is vitamin K3, also known as menadione. This is an artificial (synthetic) form of vitamin K. It is soluble in water and converted to vitamin K2 in the body. It is 2-3 times biologically active than vitamin K1 and K2, but it is hardly used in the human diet in developed countries since its side effects are deleterious. It leads to nausea, vomiting, hemolytic syndrome, hemolytic anemia, asthenia, feeling of weakness, dizziness, toxic skin pigmentation, especially in patients with liver failure. The blood carries these three forms of vitamin K to the liver, where they will be used to produce anticoagulant substances.
What are the daily recommended intakes?
The recommended daily allowance for vitamin K varies by age, sex, weight and other factors. However, the RDA has proposed an average of 70 to 90 micrograms (mcg) for adults, according to NLM.
|Infants 0-6 months||2|
|Babies 7-12 months||2.5|
|Babies 1-3 years||30|
|Children 4-8 years||55|
|Boys 9-13 years||60|
|Girls 9-13 years||60|
|Boys 14-18 years||75|
|Girls 14-18 years||75|
|Men 19-50 years||120|
|Women 19-50 years||90|
|Men 50+ years||120|
|Women 50+ years||90|
What are the signs and symptoms of deficiency?
Lack of vitamin K is rare because this nutrient is readily available in many vegetables. In addition, this micronutrient is produced by bacteria present in the intestine, increasing scarcity deficiencies in this vitamin. However, that does not suggest that you should not worry about a potential deficiency in vitamin K.
Vitamin K deficiency can manifest itself in the form of the following symptoms:
- Excessive bleeding wounds
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Bleeding gums
- Ovarian hemorrhage
- Hemorrhaging of eyes
- Hemorrhagic disease of the newborn
- Prolongation of coagulation
- Tinted urine
- Blood in urine
- Calcification of soft tissues, especially cardiac valves
Who is at risk of deficiencies?
- Babies: Babies are born with sterile intestines, making it harder to absorb and produce vitamin K in their gut.
- People with digestive problems: people who cannot absorb fat (e.g., those who have obstructive jaundice, celiac disease, alleviates diarrhea, etc.) will struggle to absorb the fat-soluble nutrient (lipid soluble but insoluble in water).
- People using medications: certain drugs (e.g., those used to treat heart disease) block absorption of this nutrient in the body.
- Individuals who take supplements: studies show that vitamin A and vitamin E interfere with the body’s ability to absorb vitamin K.
Absorption & metabolism of vitamin K
Vitamin K is absorbed into the first portion of the small intestine through vesicles composed of lipids. The absorption rate varies between 20% and 70%. It is transported to the liver in other specific vesicles: chylomicrons. These transport vesicles, consisting of fat and protein (lipoprotein) are numerous, and vitamin K flows through the blood and lymphatic vessels where it’s incorporated. Vitamin K2 is partly synthesized by the bacteria present in the colon. It is stored mainly in the liver.
Tips to consume more vitamin K:
- Do not skimp on fat: Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient, which means it needs fats (like oils) to be efficiently absorbed by the body.
- Stay attentive when cooking certain foods: overcooking foods rich in vitamin K reduces the digestible amount of this nutrient by about 20%.
- Eat unprocessed foods: Although vitamin K remains more resistant to treatment than other vitamins, unprocessed foods contain high amounts of vitamin K that processed foods.
Did you know?
The term “vitamin K” is sometimes used to indicate ketamine, a psychotropic product that has nothing to do with this vitamin.
Vitamin K was discovered by Carl Peter Henrik Dam, a Danish researcher and a biochemist in the late 1920s. In 1936, biochemists managed to purify vitamin K. For his work on this vitamin, he won the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1943.
Vitamin K antagonist drugs exist to prevent the regeneration of the vitamin. They are used by patients at risk of thrombosis.
Benefits of vitamin K
Vitamins are essential for the proper functioning of our body: it is important to consume foods that allow us to stock up on vitamin every day. However, there are other equally necessary vitamins and multiple health benefits. Do you know all the benefits of Vitamin K, for example?
The main role of vitamin K is the biological blood clotting. Indeed, four coagulation factors are under the direct influence of vitamin K and can only be activated by the vitamin. Vitamin K, therefore, promotes blood clotting.
Top 8 Health Benefits of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is essential for bones health. It allows them to be more resistant and fight against osteoporosis, which most often affects women during menopause. To prevent the risk of diseases affecting the bones, people at risk should adopt a diet rich in vitamin K.
An ally against cancer
Studies have demonstrated the effectiveness of vitamin K against cancer when combined with conventional treatments. Patients with cancer and following drug treatment should eat foods rich in this vitamin, such as spinach or broccoli, to increase their chances of overcoming the disease.
An asset to regulate blood pressure
The benefits of vitamin K also extend in this area, because it helps in controlling blood pressure, especially in patients suffering from too much pressure. Regularly consuming foods rich in vitamin K helps restore normal blood pressure and improve overall health.
For a better view
The carrot is known for its benefits to the view, but few people know that vitamin K is also essential for the functioning of the eyes. It thus helps prevent diseases that often affect these vital and delicate organs.
For dynamic brain
Vitamin K plays a critical role in the proper functioning of the brain system. A healthy diet based on this vitamin and foods that contain it and facilitates memory development, improving reflexes and increasing its concentration.
Protects the Heart
Vitamin K2 helps to inhibit hardening of the arteries, a common disorder in heart failure and coronary artery disease. Research suggests that this vitamin may help to prevent calcium deposit on body tissues and your artery linings, where it can cause considerable damage.
Prevention of Alzheimer disease
Vitamin K deficiency may be a key contributing factor to the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. Vitamin K2 supplementation is recommended to curb this disease.
Against stomach pains
Vitamin K intake helps in relieving stomach and chronic pains. Only pick from the list of vegetables rich in vitamin K to prepare salads, juices, and soups to help you find your stomach balance.
Prevention of hemorrhagic diseases of the newborn
At birth or in the first weeks of life, pediatricians prescribe a vitamin K, which compensates for the low fetal and inadequate intake of breast milk
Top 9 Sources of vitamin K
Dehydrated thyme is an excellent source of vitamin K. Vitamin K is necessary for the production of proteins that play a role in blood coagulation (both in stimulating the inhibition of blood clotting). It also participates in the formation of healthy bones and even cell growth. One table spoon can provide 36 micrograms of the vitamin K. The tablespoon is equivalent to 45 percent of the recommended daily value. It is also is known as the dried basil hence should be taken in the dry form.
As mentioned earlier, Vitamin K occurs naturally in two forms: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) which is synthesized by plants and is mainly involved in clotting and Vitamin K2 (menaquinone), produced by the animals and some bacteria (including intestinal flora). In the diet, the K1 is mainly provided by the leaves of green vegetables and some oils. Kales contain 444 micrograms of vitamin K in half cup of kales with over 100% daily value (DV).
It is also known as the colewort, red or white cabbage. Just like any other dark leafy vegetable, cabbage contains high quantities of vitamin K. Cabbage contains about 42 micrograms of vitamin K per given cup of cabbage. The most form for the cabbage is the cooked one. The cooked cabbage does usually triple the vitamin K content to 162 micrograms per cup of cabbage. Cabbage is usually a versatile vegetable and takes different forms of dishes. Hence, patients should take means with varying amount of cabbage as it rich in vitamin K. the most significant thing is to remain in the diet consistently.
Natto is the traditional food of the Japanese usually taken with rice, miso soup, and even fish. The most healthy and nutritious form is the fermented one. Natto is made by soaking of whole soybeans then boiling. This is followed by the addiction of bacterium, Bacillus subtilis which facilitate the fermentation process. The Bacillus subtilis bacteria in the natto lead to the creation of nattokinase which produces vitamin K2. Natto (fermented soy) contains 500micrograms with over hundred percent of the daily value (DV) per cup of the fermented soybeans. The taste is not bad with unpleasant smell hence people have the strong feeling towards it, however, an essential source of vitamin K (K2).
Spring onions are also known as the Scallions. Scallions are also a significant source of vitamin K which essential for blood clotting and strengthen of bones, and even cancer prevention. Spring onions are one of the richest sources of vitamin K. For hundred grams (100g) of fresh green, provides 172% of the daily recommended intake of vitamin K (207µg). The vitamin has a potential role in attaining healthy bones as it promotes osteotropic activity. Besides, adequate levels of vitamin K in the diet minimize cases of neuronal damage in the brain, hence vital in the treatment of the disease of Alzheimer.
Broccoli is an edible green plant in the cabbage family, with the flowering head as the source of food. Broccoli is one of the low-calorie vegetables with about 34 calories per given 100 grams. Broccoli, however, is a vital source of vitamin K. The best form to eat broccoli is either in a salad or raw forms. Forms such as extensive boiling or putting in the microwave are not recommended since the vitamins including vitamin K are volatile hence lowering the quantity levels of the vitamins. Usually, Broccoli contains 46 micrograms of the vitamin K (58%of the daily value) in a given half cup (1/2 cup).
Eating of prunes is essential to the body. According to the British Journal of Nutrition (2011), Prunes helps in limiting bones hence improvement of the bone density among the postmenopausal women. Prunes are also sources of the essential vitamin K that aid in blood clotting, the growth of cells and even keeping the bones healthy. Each prune contains about 5.7 micrograms of the vitamin K which is equivalent to the7 percent of the daily value (DV) of the 80grams. In every half cup of prunes contains 51.8 micrograms of the vitamin k that is 65 percent of the daily value.
Brussels sprouts are in the cabbage family, with the edible buds. The leafy fresh vegetable is usually eaten in boiled, cooked and even drained forms. Brussels sprouts are rich in vitamin K; with given half cup of the vegetable, it provides 78 micrograms of the vitamin K. This is equivalent to 98 percent of the recommended daily value.
Chili papers usually belong to the Capsicum family. Peppers are available worldwide and eaten significantly due to the attached health benefits. Pepper is recommended to be consumed in grounded powder. Chili is essential sources of vitamin K just as discussed above, blood clotting, cell growth, and healthy bone formation. In 100grams of chili, there is 105.7 microgram of vitamin K, which is equivalent to 132% of the daily recommended value of vitamin K.
Side effects of vitamin K
In the case of a vitamin K overdose, the chances of being exposed to its side effects are high. However, it’s still necessary to clarify some things:
When taken orally, the side effects are rare. Do not take vitamin K in the form of pills without medical advice. Also, people receiving treatment for heart disease or those using anticoagulant must respect the doses of vitamins K, which are prescribed to them as food;
- Decreased appetite
- Breathing difficulty
- Enlarged liver
- General body swelling
- Muscles stiffness
- Reduced activity (movement)
- Increased sweating
- Tightness in the chest
- Low blood pressure
- Skin rashes, hives and even itching
- Unusual taste