You have probably read or heard a lot about Vitamin K benefits. In fact, there are plenty of reasons why this nutrient should be a part of a balanced healthy diet.
In the following post, we discuss what Vitamin K is, the Vitamin K benefits for your health and how you can increase your intake of it.
What Is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is actually a name given to a collection of fat-soluble compounds including K1, K2, and K3.
- K1 is a natural variety of Vitamin K and is found in plants and is, therefore, the main source of Vitamin K that we as humans tend to obtain from food.
- K2 is generally derived from eggs, cheeses, and meats and synthesized using bacteria.
What Are the Vitamin K Benefits and Why Is a Regular Intake So Important?
Vitamin K is a vital nutrient that helps to maintain normal blood clotting, as well as transporting calcium throughout your body and helping to reduce the risk of bone fractures and bone loss. According to science, it could play a crucial part in preventing the calcification of soft tissue and arteries.
Blood Clotting and Lessens Bruising
Your liver requires Vitamin K to help it manufacture the necessary proteins that clot the blood. These proteins also affect your susceptibility to bruising and how quickly they heal. If you find that you are bruising easily and regularly, it could be a sign of a Vitamin K deficiency.
However, because it was believed that this was the main role of Vitamin K, the RDA set for the nutrient were based only on this specific use.
Protects Bones and Possibly Reduces Risk of Osteoporosis
Minerals such as calcium are kept in your bones thanks to Vitamin K regulating the levels of osteocalcin. This is a protein released by your bones osteoblasts to bind the bone matrix with minerals. Without Vitamin K though, the osteocalcin can’t do this.
This increases the rate at which your bones lose calcium and over the course of time, it could result in crippling osteoporosis and brittle bones.
Stops Calcification of Arteries That Cause Heart Disease and Atherosclerosis
If your bones lack the sufficient amount of Vitamin K they need to keep calcium in them, the excess calcium seeps into your arteries and other parts of your cardiovascular system.
It is essential for your body to maintain sufficient Vitamin K levels as it helps to form what is known as matrix GLA protein or MGP for short. This blocks calcium from forming in your arteries.
It has been discovered in people who suffer from a deficiency of Vitamin K that they at greater risk of suffering from hardening arteries. There have been studies that have shown that Vitamin K2 can help lower the chances of coronary or arterial calcification.
Could Reduce the Risk of Cancer
There are studies still being carried out regarding the potential preventative properties of Vitamin K against some specific cancers. In a large study conducted in Europe, involving over 11,000 men over the age of 9 years old found prostate cancer risks were lowered with increased Vitamin K consumption.
There was another, smaller study conducted that showed the preventative effect of Vitamin K against liver cancer in women who suffer from viral liver cirrhosis.
Enhance Your Skin and Smooths out Wrinkles
The connective elastin that ensures your skin is subtle and soft, can also suffer from the same calcification issues as your arteries. Therefore, a diet that does not include the necessary intake of Vitamin K could cause calcium to be secreted into the elastin fibers of your skin, hardening them and creating wrinkles.
There are also connections between the formation of essential proteins that prevent skin problems such as acne and help to keep skin cells healthy and Vitamin K.
There are reports out there that show topically applied skin treatments featuring Vitamin K can help the skin to heal properly after acne scarring and can help to prevent the build-up of acne in the first instance.
Foods with High Levels of Vitamin K
With the above vitamin K benefits in mind, you are probably interested in knowing the foods you should include more of in your diet, to ensure you consume enough Vitamin K. As noted further up the page, green leafy vegetables are by far the most common and this includes:
- Dark green lettuce
Other vegetables you should consider including more of in your diet are:
- Green tea
The reason green leafy vegetables are so high in Vitamin K comes down to the chlorophyll, that photosynthetic plant pigment that absorbs light to allow the plant to photosynthesize, provides Vitamin K to the plant.
As a general rule of thumb, the plants that are greener in color, especially dark greens, are higher in Vitamin K than vegetables that are other colors.
However, there have been reports that have shown freezing vegetables could destroy Vitamin K, so it is best to avoid buying frozen vegetables. On the positive, it appears as if cooking foods high in Vitamin K will not destroy or otherwise have a detrimental effect on the nutrient, so it is perfectly fine to cook them and still benefit.
There are various other fruits and vegetables, that aren’t dark green or leafy, with Vitamin K and these include:
- Soya beans
Also mentioned earlier is the fact that eggs, cheeses, and meats include Vitamin K2.
If you are suffering from a deficiency in Vitamin K or are worried that you might be, it is always recommended that you speak to your general practitioner or family doctor.
However, it is hard to ignore the growing number of facts and statistics regarding Vitamin K in its various forms and the vitamin K benefits for your body and health.