Health benifits of vitamin K



Health benifits of vitamin K


Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for blood clotting, bone health, and potentially reducing the risk of certain diseases. This nutrient comes in two main forms: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1 is chiefly found in green leafy vegetables, while vitamin K2 is produced by bacteria in the gut and is also found in fermented foods. In this article, we will discuss the importance of vitamin K, vitamin K deficiency, investigation, and treatment.

Importance of Vitamin K:


  • Blood clotting: Vitamin K’s primary function is to help blood clot properly. It activates several proteins involved in the clotting process, including prothrombin and factors VII, IX, and X. Without vitamin K, blood would not clot properly, leading to excessive bleeding.
  • Bone health: In addition to its role in blood clotting, vitamin K is also essential for bone health. It activates a protein called osteocalcin, which helps bind calcium to the bone matrix. Without vitamin K, osteocalcin cannot function correctly, leading to weakened bones.
  • Cardiovascular health: Some studies have suggested that vitamin K may play a role in reducing the risk of heart disease. Research has shown that higher vitamin K2 intake is associated with a reduced risk of arterial calcification, a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
  • Cancer prevention: There is some evidence to advocate that vitamin K may have anti-cancer properties. Studies have found that high vitamin K intake is associated with a reduced risk of certain types of cancer, including prostate, lung, and liver cancer.
  • Immune function: Vitamin K is involved in the production of a protein called Gas6, which is involved in immune function. Some research suggests that vitamin K may play a role in modulating the immune response.


Vitamin K Deficiency:


  • Vitamin K deficiency is rare in healthy adults, but it can occur in certain populations, including newborns, people with liver disease, and those who take certain medications that interfere with vitamin K absorption. Symptoms of vitamin K deficiency include excessive bleeding, bruising, and bleeding gums.



  • Newborns are at particular risk of vitamin K deficiency because they have not yet developed the gut bacteria necessary to produce vitamin K2, and their livers are not yet fully matured to store vitamin K1. For this reason, newborns are routinely given a vitamin K injection shortly after birth to prevent bleeding disorders.



  • People with liver disease may also be at risk of vitamin K deficiency because the liver is responsible for producing clotting factors that rely on vitamin K for activation. In addition, certain medications such as antibiotics, anticoagulants, and cholesterol-lowering drugs can interfere with vitamin K absorption and utilization, leading to deficiency.



The diagnosis of vitamin K deficiency is based on clinical symptoms, medical history, and laboratory tests. The following laboratory tests may be used to diagnose vitamin K deficiency:


  • Prothrombin time (PT): This test suggests measuring the time it takes for blood to clot. If the prothrombin time is prolonged, it may indicate a deficiency in vitamin K-dependent clotting factors.



  • Activated partial thromboplastin time (aPTT): This test measures the time it takes for blood to clot and is used to evaluate the intrinsic coagulation pathway. If the aPTT is prolonged, it may indicate a deficiency in vitamin K-dependent clotting factors.



  • International normalized ratio (INR): This test is used to monitor the effectiveness of anticoagulant therapy. The INR is calculated based on the prothrombin time and is used to adjust the dose of anticoagulant medication. An elevated INR may indicate a deficiency in vitamin K-dependent clotting factors.


Sources Of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that plays a crucial role in blood clotting and bone health. The best way to ensure adequate intake of vitamin K is through a balanced diet. 


  • Green leafy vegetables


Green leafy vegetables are the affluent dietary sources of vitamin K. These include kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and broccoli. One cup of cooked kale contains approximately 1062% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K. One cup of cooked spinach contains approximately 987% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K.


  • Fermented foods


Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and natto are also excellent sources of vitamin K. Natto, a traditional Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans, is particularly high in vitamin K2, a form of vitamin K that is essential for bone health.


  • Herbs and spices


Herbs and spices such as parsley, basil, sage, thyme, and cayenne pepper are also good sources of vitamin K. One tablespoon of fresh parsley contains approximately 17% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin K.


  • Vegetables


In addition to green leafy vegetables, other vegetables also contain vitamin K. These include asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, green beans, and cauliflower.


  • Fruits


Fruits such as blueberries, figs, and prunes also contain vitamin K, although in smaller amounts compared to vegetables and fermented foods.


  • Meat and dairy products


Meat and dairy products are not significant sources of vitamin K. However, some animal products such as liver, egg yolks, and butter contain small amounts of vitamin K.


  • Plant-based milk and yogurt


Plant-based milk and yogurt made from soy, almond, or coconut milk are also fortified with vitamin K to provide adequate amounts of this nutrient to individuals who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.


  • It is important to note that vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it is better absorbed when consumed with dietary fat. Therefore, eating vitamin K-rich foods with a source of healthy fat such as olive oil, avocado, or nuts can improve absorption

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