What is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that affects the coagulation pathways within the body. Vitamin K is found in food and can be a dietary supplement.
Vitamin K is essential for the synthesis of coagulation proteins. It is a cofactor for vitamin K-dependent carboxylation, which includes various enzymes. Vitamin K carboxylation process allows the coagulation factors to bind calcium ions, making cascade paths easier.
Health Effects and Role of Vitamin K
Vitamin K deficiency damages the coagulation process leading to bleeding problems. Recent research has linked vitamin K deficiency to Osteoporosis and Cystic fibrosis.
Vitamin K is present in two forms, K1 and K2. The main type (K1) is called ‘Phylloquinone’, which is found in green vegetables such as collard green, kale, and spinach. The other type (K2) also known as Menaquinone is found in some fodder and fermented foods. Menaquinone can also be produced by bacteria in the human body.
The following parts of the article provide you with some important facts about vitamin k and reasons why you should take it in your body along with its health benefits.
What Vitamin K does to your Body?
Vitamin K helps in making various proteins needed for the coagulation process and healthy bone structure. Prothrombin is a vitamin K-dependent protein directly associated with coagulation. Osteocalcin is another protein that requires vitamin K to produce healthy bone tissue.
Health Benefits of Vitamin K
- Bone Health Benefits
People who take less vitamin K are more likely to have osteoporosis. Several studies have said that vitamin K oversees strong bones, improves bone density, and reduces the risk of fractures. However, research has not confirmed this.
- Cognitive Health
The increased level of vitamin K in the blood has proved improved episodic memory in older adults. In one study, healthy people over the age of 70 with the highest blood levels of vitamin K1 had the highest verbal episodic memory performance.
- Heart Health
Vitamin K can help reduce blood pressure by preventing mineralization (where minerals accumulate in the arteries). It allows the heart to transmit blood freely through the body. Mineralization occurs naturally with age, and is a major risk factor for heart disease. Adequate consumption of vitamin K can reduce the risk of stroke.
Effects of Vitamin K Toxicity
Vitamin K toxicity is extremely rare. The only reported toxicity comes from menadione, which has no human use. Its toxicity is believed to be related to its water-soluble properties. When toxic, it manifests itself with symptoms of jaundice, hyperbilirubinemia, haemolytic anemia, and kernatias (in babies).
The mechanism of toxicity with menadione is increased oxygen intake in the liver, which significantly increases lipid peroxidation, causing cell damage and death. Damage to hepatocytes causes symptoms associated with vitamin K toxicity.
Synthetic vitamin K3 is highly toxic; its intake can lead to allergic reactions, haemolytic anemia, and cytotoxicity in liver cells.
Also Read: Vital Importance of Vitamin B for Human Body
What happens when you have Vitamin K Deficiency?
Excessive bleeding is the main symptom of vitamin K deficiency. Remember that bleeding can also occur in areas other than where you get cut or injured. Bleeding can also apparent if you:
- Bruise easily
- Have little blood clotting under the nails
- Bleeding in mucous membranes that line areas inside the body
- Produce dark black stool containing some blood
In infants, doctors may notice vitamin K deficiency if:
- Bleeding occurs from the site where the umbilical cord is removed.
- Bleeding occurs in skin, nose, gastrointestinal tract or other places.
- Bleeding at the penis if the baby has been circumcised.
- Sudden bleeding in the brain, is extremely dangerous and life-threatening.
Foods that are Rich in Vitamin K
Vitamin K1 is high in leafy green vegetables. Other sources include vegetable oil and some fruits.
Sources of mannequin or K2 include meat, dairy products, eggs, and Japanese ‘Nato’ (made from fermented soybeans).
Some examples of vitamin K food sources are-
- Coriander (10 sprigs contain 90 micrograms of vitamin K)
- Nato (855 grams contain 850 micrograms of vitamin K)
- Frozen and boiled collard greens (half a bowl contains 530 micrograms of vitamin K)
- Raw spinach (1 bowl contains 145 micrograms of vitamin K)
- Soybean oil (1 tbsp contains 25 micrograms of vitamin K)
- Grapes (half a bowl contains 11 micrograms of vitamin K)
- Hard-boiled eggs (one contains 4 micrograms of vitamin K)
Recommended Allowance of Vitamin K intake
‘Adequate Intake’ (AI) is used if there is not enough evidence to establish Recommended Dietary Allowance (RAD). AI is estimated to ensure nutritional adequacy. For adults aged 19 and over, vitamin K is AI-
- 120 mcg/day for men
- 90 mcg/day for women (including pregnant or lactating).
Also Read: 9 Health Benefits of Vitamin D Intake
Vitamin K Reaction to Medications
Vitamin K can react with a number of common drugs, including blood thinners, anticonvulsants, antibiotics, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and weight-loss medications.
Taking anticonvulsants during pregnancy or breastfeeding can increase the risk of vitamin K deficiency in the fetus or the baby. Examples of anticonvulsant drugs are- Phenytoin and Dilantin.
Blood thinner (e.g. warfarin) is used to prevent clotting of harmful blood (which can block blood flow to the brain or heart). They work by reducing or delaying the clotting ability of vitamin K. Sudden increase or decrease in vitamin K intake can interfere with the effects of these drugs. Keeping vitamin K intake steady can prevent such problems.
Cholesterol-lowering drugs prevent fat absorption. The body needs dietary fat to absorb vitamin K, so people taking such medicines may be at a higher risk of vitamin K deficiency.
If you are taking any of the above-mentioned medicines consult your doctor before taking vitamin K supplements.
The best way to ensure enough nutrients in the body is to eat a balanced diet, which contains plenty of fruits and vegetables. Supplements should be used only in case of deficiency, that too under the supervision of doctors.
Also Read: 4 Health Benefits of Vitamin E Intake
The above article discusses the information about vitamin K and its health Benefits in your body. These data are reliable and source based. Approach the doctor for more information and any problems related to vitamin deficiency or toxicity.
Sources: NCBI Books
1) Where is vitamin K2 produced in the body?
Ans:- Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinone, is synthesized by gastrointestinal tract bacteria. K2 is absorbed and sent to blood vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than the liver.
2) Where is vitamin K absorbed in the body?
Ans:- Vitamin K, mainly in the form of phylloquinone, is absorbed in a form that is chemically modified after publication. The material of bile salts and pancreatic lipase is later absorbed in the nearest part of the intestine, forming Michael with soluble forms of phylloquinone.
3) Where is vitamin K stored in the body?
4) How much vitamin K is present in a cabbage?
Ans:- Dark green vegetables like cabbage contain high amounts of vitamin K. Raw chopped cabbage (per bowl) contains 42 micrograms of vitamin K.
5) What are the complications of vitamin K deficiency?
Ans:- Complications caused by vitamin K are much rarer for adults than for newborn babies. Severe deficiency can lead to Haemolytic Disease in Newborns (HDN). The disease is more common in premature babies than children born at full term. Factors responsible for low vitamin K levels-
- Low levels of gut bacteria in newborn babies
- Poor transport of vitamin K to the fetus through the placenta
- Low amount of vitamin K in breast milk; So breastfeeding babies are likely to lack vitamin K
Babies are given vitamin K shots immediately after birth, to protect them from HDN.