Did you know that the “K” in Vitamin K is in fact derived from the German word koagulation? Dr. Rupali Datta, Chief Clinical Nutritionist at Fortis-Escorts Hospital says, “Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting. It also plays an important role in bone formation.” Vitamin K is actually a group of compounds, and the most important of these compounds appears to be vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Dr. Rupali adds, “Vitamin K1 (or phylloquinone) is obtained naturally from plants, especially green vegetables. Vitamin K2 (or menaquinone) is largely produced by the intestinal flora”.
Though Vitamin K deficiencies are rare in adults, the following may put you at an increased risk:
1. Fat malabsorption
2. Liver diseases
3. Destruction of intestinal flora
4. Eating a poor or restricted diet
Note: Unlike many other vitamins, vitamin K is not typically used as a dietary supplement. Vitamin K deficiencies are actually very common in newborn infants, and the absorption of Vitamin K depends upon a minimum amount of fat in the food.
Health Benefits of Vitamin K
1. Promotes Bone Health and Wound Healing
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin which makes 4 out of the 13 proteins needed for blood clotting, according to the Harvard School of Public Health. It is an important factor in bone health and wound healing.
2. Protects Your Heart
Vitamin K2 protects your heart, as it helps to prevent the hardening of the arteries – a common factor in coronary artery disease and heart failure. Dr. Manoj K. Ahuja, Sukhda Hospital says, “Studies have shown that Vitamin K2 also helps prevent osteoporosis, and serves as the biological “glue” that helps plug calcium and other important minerals into your bone matrix”.
3. Prevents Cancer
A number of studies show that Vitamins K1 and K2 are both effective against cancer. A study published in the International Journal of Oncology, found that treating lung cancer patients with vitamin K2 slowed the growth of cancer cells, and previous studies have shown benefit in treating leukemia. Vitamin K has also been found beneficial in the fight against colon, stomach and oral cancers.
4. Researches have also found that Vitamin K may be a contributing factor to Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Vitamin K2 also improves insulin sensitivity, so people who absorb the most vitamin K2 from their foods are about 20% less likely to develop Type 2 Diabetes.
Top 6 Vitamin K Rich Foods
The best way to get the daily requirement of vitamin K is by eating the following 6 foods:
1. Kale: Kale contains more than 500% of the daily recommended allowance for Vitamin K, which is important for healthy bones and for healing wounds. It’s high in fiber, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids.
2. Spinach: This bright and vibrant green leafy vegetable is also an excellent source of beta carotene which is good for a healthy immune system, vision, skin and is also important for healthy bones. It is very rich in antioxidants like Vitamins E and C as well.
3. Lettuce: Lettuce is rich in proteins, helps treat insomnia and is a great source ofVitamin A and potassium.
4. Broccoli: Broccoli also contains anti-cancer properties. It has high content of Vitamin C and dietary fiber.
5. Cabbage: This layered, leafy green is also an excellent source of Vitamin C and A, rich in polyphenols. It helps prevent arthritis, colon cancer, prostate cancer, bladder and breast cancer.
6. Cauliflower: Cauliflower helps maintain a healthy digestive system, prevents arthritis,obesity and other anti-inflammatory mediated diseases. The presence of glucoraphanin in cauliflower helps prevent stomach cancer and ulcer.
Eggs, chicken liver, fish, green leafy vegetables such as turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, parsley, romaine, beet greens, Brussel sprouts are also good sources of Vitamin K.