By Ruth Ann Clayton, RD
If asked about Vitamin K, many would respond that they have heard of it or their doctor said stay away from it. Actually there are proven benefits to your health from Vitamin K and research is pointing to more possible advantages of it.
Before continuing, please be aware that some anticoagulant drugs should not be taken with Vitamin K. If you are using anticoagulant drugs, check with your physician or pharmacists before increasing your intake of K rich foods or adding vitamin K supplementation.
Vitamin K comes in two naturally occurring forms, K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). K1 is the primary plant dietary form with highest amounts found in leafy greens such as kale, spinach and dandelions. You also find it in “green drinks” made from these dark green vegetables. K2 has fewer food sources and consists mainly of fermented foods like natto or sauerkraut. Your body produces K2 by synthesizing it from healthy intestinal flora or bacteria.
You are probably aware that both forms of K helps your blood coagulate. The fat soluble vitamin was discovered in 1929 by a Danish scientist doing cholesterol tests. It was given the name “K” from a German journal that called it the “Koagulationsvitamin” because it synthesizes proteins essential to the blood clotting process. Of course this helps your body prevent excessive bleeding. With a Vitamin K deficiency you would bruise excessively or, at extreme low levels, bleed to death.
The Vitamin K2 form has additional responsibilities. K2 actually makes calcium move into the bones where it belongs. It then deposits proteins that help bind the calcium within the bone. You already know about the need for calcium, magnesium and Vitamin D in bone health but now add in that Vitamin K2 works as a partner with them to maintain good bone structure throughout life. If you use calcium, consider getting better quality bone building supplements that include K2.
Research is now pointing to the fact that K2 may be a strong deterrent to the calcification of arteries and valves in the circulatory system. Soft tissue calcification may be lessened because K2 is effective in leading calcium away from blood vessel walls.
The production of K2 may decrease with age. Heavy antibiotic usage and other medications can disrupt the healthy gut bacteria that manufacture K2. These factors may place seniors at higher risk of arterial calcification, vascular disease, osteoporosis and bone fractures.
If vitamin K is appropriate for you, make choices to ensure the foods listed are in your diet. If you feel these sources are lacking, discuss with your physician if supplementation would be beneficial. Chlorella and spirulina are excellent supplemental sources of Vitamin K1. Vitamin K2 can be purchased in capsule form individually, blended with Vitamin D and included in calcium bone building formulas.
Ruth Ann Clayton is the Registered Dietitian at Nature’s Way. She has been featured in and interviewed by nationally published trade journals. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease.
Ruth Ann Clayton, Registered Dietitian, is active in both the American Dietetics Association and Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine Dietetic Practice Group. Her nationally accredited Dietetic Internship and her years of experience in public health and hospital settings reflect her commitment to your health and well being.
As the co-owner of Nature’s Way, she uses her comprehensive background to research products, read labels, investigate manufacturers and provide information for her customers.