Vitamin K refers to a group of fat-soluble vitamins that help the body produce prothrombin, a protein and clotting factor that is necessary for bone health and blood clotting. It is rare for people to experience vitamin K deficiency, but it can happen, and it leads to increased clotting time, hemorrhaging, and excessive bleeding. People who take blood thinners, such as Coumadin or other anticoagulants, are not encouraged to consume additional vitamin K without consulting their medical care professionals.
Vitamin K is integral for optimal bone health, teaming up with vitamin D to efficiently deliver calcium to the bones in the body. Recent research by the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay found that vitamin K may increase bone mineral density, decreasing the risk of fractures. Another study found that low vitamin K levels may lead to low bone mass density, increasing the risk of hip fractures in women.
Sources of Vitamin K
The bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract naturally produce vitamin K, but it is necessary to obtain vitamin K from dietary sources. Some of the best dietary sources of vitamin K include leafy green vegetables, vegetable oils, and fermented foods. For fermented foods, the amount of vitamin K will vary depending on bacterial strains and the fermentation process. The bioavailability of different forms of vitamin K will also vary from food to food. Some of the best vitamin K sources are listed below:
- Turnip greens
- Raw carrot juice
- Raw cashews
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Raw pine nuts
The Harvard School of Public Health published a study claiming that vitamin K helps produce four of the 13 necessary proteins for blood clotting. As previously stated, vitamin K helps with wound healing and bone health. Some of our favorite vitamin K benefits are detailed below.
Several studies have found that adequate intake of vitamin K may help to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of stroke. By inhibiting mineralization, where minerals build up in the arteries, the heart can pump blood throughout the body with ease. Mineralization happens naturally, especially as you age, so be sure include vitamin K foods in your daily diet.
Osteoporosis is the cause of over 8.9 million fractures per year, and it affects an estimated 200 million women worldwide. One in five men and one in three women over 50 will experience an osteoporotic fracture. A large amount of data presents that these numbers could decrease by regularly consuming vitamin K-rich foods. What’s puzzling is that few therapies for osteoporosis recommend vitamin K consumption.
According to recent studies, higher vitamin K blood levels have been linked to improved episodic memories in older adults. One study revealed that people over the age of 70 with high levels of vitamin K1 had better memory performance than those with low levels of vitamin K.
The recommended daily intake of vitamin K should be as follows:
- 120 mcg for men over the age of 19
- 90 mcg for women over the age of 19