By Dr. Kaycee Reyes
Anti-kancer, klotting, and kardiovascular health—these are some of the reasons why bodies need vitamin K! It may be one of the lesser known vitamins but it is just as important as the others. Vitamin K was first discovered in 1929 by Danish scientist Henrik Dam, when he found that it could avoid abnormal bleeding among chickens. It comes from the German word koagulation, which means to coagulate, to thicken, or to form a clot. Let’s find out why vitamin K is a-oK!
Vitamin K is a term of a group of fat-soluble K-vitamins that are also naphthoquinones: Vitamin K or K1(phylloquinone), K2 (menaquinone), and K3 (menadione).Vitamin K1 and K2 are naturally found in our bodies. Vitamin K3 is the synthetic form used as supplementation. Vitamin K3 is water-soluble. Now let us know the health benefits of each.
- Vitamin K1’s known function is for proper blood clotting. Since it is inevitable that one will get wounded in their lifetime, vitamin K helps prevent excessive bleeding as blood clotting stops the blood to leak profusely from the injured blood vessels. Note, however, that vitamin K is not part of the coagulation process; rather, it only activates prothrombin, the protein needed to perform it.
- Vitamin K2 is essential for teeth and bone health. Apparently, there is a link between individuals who have osteoporosis and vitamin K deficiency, and vitamin K positively affects bone strength and bone density.
- Vitamin K2 is also directly linked to proper liver function. It has been said to avoid liver cirrhosis.
- Vitamin K2 is also good for the heart. Mineral buildup in the arteries is common as one ages that can be a precursor to heart problems. Vitamin K2 helps regulate blood pressure by avoiding this buildup. It may also prevent stroke.
- Who knew vitamin K is also good for the skin? Since vitamin K1 is very helpful in wound healing, there are topical creams formulated with this vitamin that helps in bruises and scars, most especially for those who underwent surgery. It has also been reported to improve other skin conditions such as stretch marks, spider veins, scars, and dark under eye circles, as this vitamin also helps with proper blood circulation.
Vitamin K deficiency happens, but rarely. It most likely occurs among individuals with mal-absorption problems, those who suffer from malnutrition, hospitalized patients under antibiotics, those with problems in the gut, liver, or has gallbladder disease, those who have gluten sensitivity, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease, or Crohn’s disease. Those who also take blood thinners or under hemodyalisis may also lead to a vitamin K deficiency. Symptoms of a deficiency include easy bruising, gastrointestinal bleeding, and excessive menstrual bleeding. Did you know that babies have very little vitamin K when they are born? This is why newborns are given this vitamin to prevent brain bleeding and other health problems that may affect their growth and development. On the other hand, excess vitamin K may lead to symptoms such as nausea, gastric distress, abdominal cramps, fatigue, and diarrhea, among others. Given this, vitamin K should not be taken with certain medications such as coagulant drugs.
As you can see, vitamin K, like other vitamins, is crucial for bone health, heart health, and blood clotting. Luckily, this supercharged vitamin can be easily found in leafy greens, fermented products, and meat! Load up on vitamin K1-rich foods such as spinach, kale, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, and parsley. Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is found in dairy products such as eggs, yogurt, and cheese; fruit such as grapes and strawberries; it is also found in other sources such as meat, beans, soybeans, olive oil, soybean oil, and canola oil. When it comes to supplementation, vitamin K3 may interfere with other drugs. It is very important to consult your doctor before taking this vitamin alongside your prescription. If you get the green light from your doctor, then vitamin K is a-oK!