Vitamin K is a very important nutrient that gets little attention brought to it. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin just like vitamin A, vitamin D and vitamin E. There are different forms of vitamin K. Vitamin K1 is a natural form of Vitamin K and is found in plants. Vitamin K1 is also called phylloquinone and is the major form of vitamin K. Vitamin K2 is made by bacteria in the human gut. K3 is the water-soluble form of vitamin K.
Vitamin K plays an essential role in the blood clotting mechanism in our body. Vitamin K or the clotting vitamin is need for the blood to clot. Specifically, vitamin K is required for the liver to make factors II, VII, IX, X, that are necessary for blood to properly clot. Vitamin K deficiency is rare, but can lead to defective blood clotting, increased bleeding, nose bleeds or bruising. People at risk for developing vitamin K deficiency include those with chronic malnutrition, chronic diarrhea, celiac disease, liver disease, ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, long term treatment of certain antibiotics.
Vitamin K is also appears to prevent bone re-absorption, and adequate dietary intake of vitamin K is likely necessary to prevent excess bone loss. Vitamin K helps promote strong bones by binding calcium and other minerals to the bone. A study by Japanese researchers found that “high dose” of vitamin K in postmenopausal women for 24 and 48 week doses significantly increased bone mass compared to women treated with a placebo. There is also some work that suggests that Vitamin K is involved in growth of the cell, preventing oxidative cell damage and cardiovascular disease. Vitamin K may be helpful in the prevention or treatment of the following conditions: cancer, heart attack, heavy menstrual flow, kidney stones, osteoporosis, and stroke. Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables; spinach, broccoli, asparagus, Swiss chard, watercress, cabbage, kiwi, cauliflower, green peas, carrots, beans, olives, canola oil, cottonseed oil, avocado, soybeans, meat, cereals, and dairy products. Kale, collard greens and spinach have the most vitamin K per food group. This is followed by turnip greens, beet greens, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, onions, dandelion greens, lettuce, parsley, asparagus and sauerkraut. Cooking does not remove significant amounts of vitamin K from foods. The best way to get vitamin K is by eating a balanced diet including the foods mentioned above.
Vitamin K will interact with the blood-thinning drug Warfarin. Vitamin K can decrease the blood thinning effects of Warfarin. Vitamin K may decrease the blood thinning effects of herbs that act like warfarin (Coumadin) in the body by decreasing clotting factors made in the liver. Examples of these herbs in particular such as alfalfa (Medicago sativa), American ginseng (Panax quinquifolium), and angelica (Angelica archangelica). A person should always check with their physician before taking vitamin K or any other supplement.