Vitamin K



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Vitamin K - The Blood Clotting Vitamin

The "K" in vitamin K comes from the German word "koagulation,"  since K is a fat soluble vitamin that needed to help your clot blood when you are injured.  It also helps to heal broken blood vessels in the eyes, and helps in cirrhosis and jaundice of the liver.  It can reduce excessive menstruation and helps stop post-menopausal brittle bones and bone loss and help maintain strong bones in general.  A couple of long-term studies have shown higher risk of hip fractures in the elderly when they had lower vitamin K intakes.  Vitamin K is used to treat osteoporosis in Japan, although it is still under study for that in the United States.  It also can act as an anti-parasitic for intestinal worms. 

There are two different forms of vitamin K:  K1 and K2.  Even though there is a lot more K1 in the diet, its absorption rate is usually less than 15%.  K2 is not as abundant, but its absorption rate is very close to 100%.  These different forms of K are used differently in the body.  K1 is mostly used by the liver to activate the clotting factors.  K2, on the other hand, enhances the effectiveness of vitamin D and helps in preventing osteoporosis and preventing heart disease.

K1 is found in green vegetables like broccoli, kale, parsley, spinach and swiss chard and plant-based oils, especially in olive oil.  K2 can be produced by your own intestinal bacteria if you are healthy.  It is also found in abundance in fermented vegetables, like sauerkraut, and also in egg yolks, goose meat, including goose liver and butterfat.  Chicken, duck, beef and pork also have some vitamin K.

Amount of Vitamin K Found in 1/2 Cup of Broccoli Per Day Decreases Hip Fracture Risk

In the Framingham Heart Study, about 250 mcg/day was associated with a decreased risk of hip fracture.  This would only be about cup of chopped broccoli or a large mixed green salad once per day.  Don't forget, however, that vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin, so you want to make sure and put butter on your vegetables and oil-based dressing on your salads in order to best absorb it.

Vitamin K deficiency results in problems with blood clotting, and symptoms are easy bruising and bleeding that may be manifested as bleeding gums or nosebleeds, blood in the stool or urine, or heavy menstrual bleeding.  Vitamin K deficiency is, however, uncommon in healthy adults.

It appears that Vitamin D can deplete the body of vitamin K, which can cause problems.  Because of this, if you are taking extra D, you might want to make sure and emphasize high vitamin K foods as well.

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