Most people try to get enough calcium or vitamin C in their daily diet, but few people give any consideration to vitamin K. Perhaps that’s because most people haven’t even heard of this essential nutrient.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS VITAMIN K?
Vitamin K is a vitamin, obviously. And what that means is that it is essential to life—it’s not optional. We need all vitamins for our survival. In the case of vitamin K, it is an antioxidant that helps to destroy harmful free radicals linked to aging or disease. This nutrient is also critical to building strong bones, so you’ll especially want to ensure you’re getting enough of the nutrient if you’re experiencing or at risk of experiencing osteoporosis.
Vitamin K is also involved in healthy blood clotting because it is required to make blood-clotting factors in your body. If you bleed excessively, you may be deficient in vitamin K. The nutrient is also involved in preventing heart disease—insufficient vitamin K may cause the blood vessels to become hard and narrowed with deposits.
This integral vitamin also has anti-cancer properties. It seems to work by preventing the growth of tumors either on its own, but also when it is used in conjunction with radiation. Vitamin K has also been found to prevent cancer from spreading throughout the body. Of course, it should only be used as part of a cancer treatment when under the guidance of a professional.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF VITAMIN K DEFICIENCY
Atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries)
Bone Fractures and Breaks
Wounds Don’t Heal Well
TOP FOOD SOURCES OF VITAMIN K
There are many excellent sources of vitamin K (vitamin K1), which include:
Kale (1 cup) 1062 micrograms
Spinach (1 cup) 888 micrograms
Mustard Greens (1 cup) 829 micrograms
Collard Greens (1 cup) 772 micrograms
Beet Greens (1 cup) 696 micrograms
Swiss Chard (1 cup) 572 micrograms
Turnip Greens (1 cup) 529 micrograms
Parsley (1/2 cup) 498 micrograms
Broccoli (1 cup) 220 micrograms
Brussels Sprouts (1 cup) 218 micrograms
Romaine Lettuce (2 cups) 96 micrograms
Asparagus (1 cup) 91 micrograms
Basil (1/2 cup) 88 micrograms
The primary sources of vitamin K2 include: fish, eggs, meat and fermented foods; however, if you boost your gut health, the beneficial bacteria found there can manufacture vitamin K2. Eating more fermented foods supplies the body with vitamin K2 while boosting beneficial bacteria that can manufacture the vitamin.
Eating more fermented foods like sauerkraut, miso, natto, yogurt, kimchi and others are the best way to boost beneficial bacteria and your gut health.
HOW MUCH DO YOU NEED?
The recommended dietary intake (RDI) is around 80 micrograms for both women and men. Nutrition experts typically recommend between 80 and 100 micrograms. Some people are more at risk of a deficiency because of other health conditions that predispose them to vitamin K deficiencies. They include those with bowel obstructions, colitis or chronic liver disease. Of course, if you are on anticoagulant therapy you should consult your doctor prior to supplementing with the vitamin.
WHAT IS THE BEST FORM OF THE VITAMIN?
Food is always the best form of any vitamin so I encourage you to eat more of the foods mentioned above, but if you need to supplement you’ll want to get vitamin K or vitamin K2, but not K3, which is also known as menadione), since it is synthetic and has been linked to some side-effects. The natural forms of vitamin K are superior.
You can also boost your body’s ability to manufacture vitamin K by improving the health of your gut since some probiotics in the gut are able to manufacture vitamin K.