Foods Containing Vitamin K
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It also plays a role in bone health, and may help to prevent osteoporosis . Appropriate growth and development are supported by adequate vitamin K.
There are several forms of the vitamin:
- K1 or phylloquinone; also known as phytonadione
- K2, a family of substances called menaquinones
- K3 or menadione, a synthetic form of this vitamin
Importance of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is an essential vitamin in the body, that is normally formed by intestinal bacteria. Even though our bodies naturally make this vitamin, it is also important to supplement through food, as the vitamin is essential in the clotting of blood. Leafy green vegetables tend to be rich in vitamin K, including spinach, collards, kale, sea kelp, Brussels sprouts, and alfalfa. Other vegetables are also high in vitamin K, such as asparagus, cabbage, lettuce, okra, onions, pears, and broccoli.
Certain spices are high in vitamin K, and these all tend to derive from leafy greens, such as basil, coriander, oregano, parsley, and thyme. For those who are not fond of the leafy green vegetables, there are other sources that have adequate vitamin K, such as enriched egg noodles, fish oils (which are also a great source of Omega 3 fatty acids), liver, milk, prunes, yogurt, and soy beans.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so it is stored in the body's fat tissue and liver. It is best known for its role in helping blood clot (coagulate) properly (the "K" comes from its German name, Koagulationsvitamin). Vitamin K also plays an important role in bone health.
It is rare to have a vitamin K deficiency, because in addition to being found in leafy green foods, the bacteria that are found in the intestines can make vitamin K. Sometimes taking antibiotics can kill the bacteria and lead to a mild deficiency. Vitamin K deficiency can lead to excessive bleeding (hemorrhage), which may begin as oozing from the gums or nose. Other circumstances that may lead to vitamin K deficiency include:
- Health problems that can prevent the absorption of vitamin K (such as gallbladder or biliary disease, which may alter the absorption of fat), cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and Crohn's disease,
- Liver disease,
- Use of blood-thinning medications (such as warfarin),
- Continuing hemodialysis,
- Serious burns.
Food Sources of Vitamin K
It is seen to be deficient in individuals with celiac disease, obstructive jaundice, chronic pancreatitis, liver disease, bypass surgery and chronic diarrhea. Typical symptoms of deficiency are eye hemorrhage, nose bleed, bleeding gums, unexplained bruising, nasal bleeding and bleeding in the gastro intestinal tract.
Foods that is rich in vitamin K aids in proper coagulation of blood. Vitamin K is an antioxidant which protects the system from oxidative damage. This is attributed to the scavenging action of free radicals, which in turn results in degenerative diseases, such as cataract, atherosclerotic plaques, cancer and osteoporosis. It also maintains the bone density of individuals.
Vitamin K is seen to occur in abundant quantities in Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, spinach, mustard greens, turnip, green tea, cabbage, broccoli, green beans, kale and asparagus. Carrots and green peas are also good sources of vitamin K. Other food sources of vitamin K are soya beans, cereals, broccoli, cabbage, wheat bran and cauliflower.
Fresh foods are abundant in vitamin K. They are resistant to moisture and heat. Normal cooking fails to result in any kind of loss. Vitamin K is destroyed by light, oxidizers, acid and base. Freezing foods decrease the vitamin K content of foods. About one hundred grams of raw spinach has 483 micrograms of vitamin K, whereas teh same amount of frozen spinach has only 377 micrograms.
What happens if we don’t get enough vitamin K?
When people don’t get enough vitamin K blood takes a long time to clot. This can cause excessive blood loss and increased risk of death from injuries. Vitamin K deficiency is rare in healthy adults. However, people with severe digestive disorders or on chronic antibiotic therapy may be at risk.
Anticoagulant medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) are prescribed to interfere with normal function of vitamin K in the body. Eating very large or very small amounts of vitamin K can change how these drugs work.
If you take an anticoagulant, you should pay close attention to your intake of foods such as spinach and turnip greens that are very high in vitamin K, and ensure that your vitamin K intake is about the same from day to day. You should also consult your doctor before taking vitamin E supplements, or supplements such as ginkgo and garlic, as these may also affect blood clotting.
Sources Of Vitamin K And Vitamin K Supplements
Vitamin K is available as vitamin K1 or phylloquinone, in plants. This is converted to Vitamin K2 or menaquinone in the intestine.
This process is catalyzed by the intestinal bacteria. Synthetic vitamin K is referred to as menadione or vitamin K3. Vitamin K is essential for the prevention of bleeding, in case of bruise or injury. It is necessary, especially in case of gall bladder, liver or digestive system problems. Vitamin K is also essential for the synthesis of certain protein carriers that aid in the transport of calcium.
Hardening of blood vessels is seen in case of low dietary intake of vitamin K. Hardening of arteries results in heart failure and cardiac diseases. It also prevents the formation of tumor. Deficiency of vitamin K results in poor coagulation, which in turn increases the bleeding time.
Intake of certain medications for the heart also decreases the clotting time, thereby resulting in its deficiency. Anticoagulant medications and bile acid sequestrants, such as colestipol and cholestyramine result in hindrance of vitamin K absorption.
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