Have you ever thought about what will happen if you get a wound and the blood doesn’t clot and keeps on flowing? Scary, isn’t it? But this doesn’t happen because of a potent vitamin in our body known as “Vitamin K” and it is also called “Blood Clotting Vitamin”. Vitamin K is given this name due to its wound healing properties. Let’s get to know about this amazing Vitamin K that plays a vital role in the development and health of bones.
Types of Vitamin K
There are several forms of vitamin K but two forms are the most important and widely known.
- Vitamin K1 or Phylloquinone: This type of vitamin K is found in plant sources like leafy green vegetables.
- Vitamin K2 or Menaquinoe: This type has an animal source and is found in fermented foods.
Now let’s glance at the history of this astounding vitamin.
What is Vitamin K and where it comes from?
A Danish scientist Henrik Dam discovered this vitamin in 1929 while working on the role of cholesterol in chickens. Later, a dentist Weston Price also discovered vitamin K while he was studying the relationship of diet and diseases in large populations. But before all these discoveries, initially, vitamin K was mentioned in a German scientific journal with the name “Koagulationsvitamin” and this is where the letter ‘K’ was derived from. Later, Weston Price found a nutrient that was abundantly found in non-industrial diets and aided in tooth decay and chronic diseases. He called this nutrient “Activator X” which was later named ‘Vitamin K’.
Food sources of Vitamin K
This vitamin is made naturally in our bodies by bacteria in our gastrointestinal tract. Apart from this, vitamin K is also found in green leafy vegetables as well as in meats, fish, and other animal sources.
Food sources for vitamin K1 and K2 are as follows:
|Spinach (boiled, ½ C)||425 µg|
|Kale (1 C)||82 µg|
|Broccoli (boiled, ½ C)||81 µg|
|Carrots (1 C)||17 µg|
|Asparagus (boiled)||48 µg|
|Chinese cabbage (1/2 C)||29 µg|
|Grapes ( ½ C)||9.2 µg|
|Beef (4 oz)||0.9 µg|
|Eggs (1)||0.1 µg|
|Chicken (100 gm)||8.9 µg|
|Salmon ( 100gm)||0.5 µg|
|Yogurt ( 100 gm)||0.9 µg|
|Cheese (100 gm)||8- 10 µg|
|Butter (100 gm)||15 µg|
RDAs for Vitamin K
The following recommended dietary allowances for vitamin K were established by the United States Food and Nutrition Board in 2001 for different age groups. Let’s have a look at them.
|0-6 months||2 mcg/ day|
|7-12 months||2.5 mcg/ day|
|1-3 years||30 mcg/ day|
|4-8 years||55 mcg/ day|
|9-13 years||60 mcg/ day|
|14-18 years||75 mcg/ day|
|19 years and above||120 mcg/ day|
|Pregnant women||75-80 mcg/ day|
|Breastfeeding mothers||75-90 mcg/ day|
Benefits of Vitamin K
The profounding benefits of vitamin K are as follows:
1. Prevents Osteoporosis and Maintain Healthy Bones
Osteoporosis is a major cause of fractures all over the world and annually 8.9 million fractures are caused just due to osteoporosis especially in older women. A research carried out for 3 years on premenopausal women, proved that vitamin K2 plays a vital role in the metabolism of calcium which in return makes the bones and teeth strong as well as increases its density and mineralization. Several other studies have also shown that vitamin K has greatly reduced spinal fractures by 60%, hip fractures by 77%, and other fractures by 81%. By observing all these facts, it has resulted that vitamin K must be included in daily diets to prevent osteoporosis and maintaining healthy bones. But some scientists suggest that vitamin K alone is not sufficient enough for promoting healthy bones and calcium supplements should be included along with vitamin K supplements.
2. Dental Health
Though the evidence related to dental health is not confirmed but small studies have shown that vitamin K supplements tremendously improved the dental health in humans and these supplements should be included in our daily diets to prevent tooth decay but vitamin K will be more effective when taken side by side with vitamin A and D.
3. Prevents cancer
Nowadays, cancer is becoming a common cause of death. Though there are many ways to prevent its occurrence still cancer is on the rise. 2 clinical studies have revealed interesting results that vitamin K2 amazingly reduces the risks of liver cancer whereas vitamin K1 lowers the risk of prostate cancer by 63%. But all these findings are not confirmed and more shreds of evidence are needed to prove these results.
4. Blood Clotting Property
An important protein called Prothrombin which is highly important for blood clotting and bone metabolism is produced by vitamin K and our body always needs vitamin K to produce prothrombin so that in case of any wounds or injuries, our blood stops flowing and clots. This clotting of blood prevents excessive loss of blood because in case of deficiency of vitamin K leads to delay in clotting time which ultimately causes hemorrhages and other blood-related issues.
5. Prevents Heart Diseases
Most heart diseases are due to the accumulation of calcium in arteries around the heart and these heart diseases can be prevented by not allowing this calcium to deposit around the heart. Vitamin K plays a significant role in warding off the calcium deposition within the arteries of the heart. A study conducted for 7 years long spam, resulted that people who take vitamin K supplements have a 52% lower risk of developing artery calcification. It is recommended that if 10 mcg of vitamin K is taken daily, it reduces the heart disease risks by 9%.
The side effects of vitamin K intake are very rare but if any of the following symptoms occur, one must consult a doctor immediately. The side effects of over dose of vitamin K are:
- Difficulty in breathing
- Enlarged liver
- Muscle stiffness
- Skin rashes, hives, or itching
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Low blood pressure
This amazing vitamin is a fat-soluble nutrient and divided into 2 more categories i-e K1 and K2. This vitamin K aids in the prevention of many heart diseases as well as bone-related diseases. Researchers and scientists will always recommend taking vitamin K supplements to maintain the proper functioning of our bodies. Besides all these benefits and recommendations, excess of any nutrient or vitamin will have adverse effects on human bodies, so moderation should be kept in mind.