Do you know of someone who experiences digestive issues such as Crohn’s or Celiac Disease? Or perhaps Osteoporosis, blood clot issues, excessive bruising, or menstrual pain? With all of the hype in recent years of consuming more Calcium and Vitamin D, be on the lookout for more research and recommendations for consuming more Vitamin K.
What does Vitamin K help? Vitamin K is a fat-soluble, anti-inflammatory vitamin that has many health benefits, including aiding in blood clotting, absorption of calcium, digestive health, menstrual pain relief, bone and arterial strength and integrity, and brain function. It can help digestive diseases such as ulcerative colitis by increasing blood flow and oxygenation to tissues and cells. It aids in heavy menstrual cycles and nose bleeds by helping blood to clot. It helps to prevent calcification (Arteriosclerosis) and fatty deposits (Atherosclerosis) from forming on blood vessel walls, which helps reduce incidences of heart attack and stroke. Vitamin K can also help reduce the risk for Osteoporosis, by reducing osteoclastic activity, which breaks down bone. Increasing calcium intake is excellent for bone strength, but a problem for arteries, which can become calcified. Taking Vitamin K protects the integrity of blood vessel walls from calcifying when too much calcium occurs in the body, and can also help with varicose veins.
What is the difference between Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2? Of the two vitamin derivatives, Vitamin K1 is readily available in the United States over the counter, and Vitamin K2 is available only by a doctor’s prescription. Vitamin K1 is used in infants in many hospitals to prevent bleeding, and helps to prevent arteries and veins from calcifying, and helps strengthen bones. Vitamin K2 is produced by bacteria in the digestive tract, and is often excreted through the body with very little absorption. The human body has the innate ability to convert Vitamin K1 into K2.
Where is it found? Vitamin K is available in many foods, most notably leafy-green and cruciferous vegetables. In order from highest concentration to lowest: kale, spinach, mustard and collard greens, swiss chard, turnip greens, parsley, broccoli, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, and romaine lettuce. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods, and a popular Japanese breakfast food made from fermented soybeans.
How much should you take? There are differing opinions on proper dosage should you choose to consume a Vitamin K supplement. It is important to take Vitamin K with a fat-soluble food and together with Vitamin D for the most optimal effect. It is recommended to take anywhere from 50-180 mcg of Vitamin K1 daily for adults, and sometimes more if not eating dark green leafy and cruciferous vegetables on a regular basis. Overall, The Institute of Medicine recommends that men need at least 120 mcg per day and women need at least 90 mcg per day. If you are taking prescribed anti-coagulant and blood thinner medications such as Warfarin or Coumadin, or have any other health concerns, consult with your doctor first before considering Vitamin K supplementation.
Vitamin K has many health benefits, and its importance for health is under publicized, versus bigger names like Vitamin D and calcium. It is readily available and easy to consume, and should be a part of any nutritious diet.