We’ve all heard of vitamins A, B, C, D, even E, but what about K? Vitamin K is probably one of the lesser-known vitamins, so what is it actually responsible for and how do we know we are getting enough of it? Here are the fast facts you need to know, so just keep reading.
First of all, vitamin K has two naturally occurring forms: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). K1 is acquired from green leafy vegetables whilst K2 can be found in fermented foods. Also, our bodies synthesize K2 from intestinal flora or bacteria.
- Vitamin K synthesizes proteins which are essential to clot blood and stop bleeding. A deficiency can cause excessive bruising or bleeding.
- It collaborates with vitamin D to lead calcium to the bones and help it bind to them to make your bones stronger. Low levels of vitamin K can lead to an increased risk of fracture.
- Other benefits of vitamin K that have been proposed, but are not fully scientifically proven, include protection from the calcification of arteries and valves and a reduced risk of both Alzheimer’s disease and prostate cancer.
The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for vitamin K varies depending on age, gender, and weight. However, a simple guide for adults (taken from the UK’s NHS) is 0.001mg of vitamin K for every 1kg (2.20lbs) of body weight.
Here are the top sources to get your daily dose of vitamin K:
- Herbs such as basil, sage, thyme, parsley, coriander, marjoram, and chives.
- Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, mustard greens, collards, beet greens, turnip greens, and other greens.
- Salad greens such as spring onions, garden cress, radicchio, watercress, romaine lettuce, red lettuce, rocket, celery, and iceberg lettuce.
- Brassica vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cabbage, pak choi, savoy cabbage, and cauliflower.
- Hot spices such as cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, and curry.
- Other great sources: asparagus, fennel, leeks, okra, pickles, soybeans, olive oil, and dried fruit.
Make sure to seek advice from your doctor before taking supplements of vitamin K, since excessive use of the medical-grade vitamin can cause side effects and interact with other drugs. A healthy and balanced diet can provide more than enough of the necessary vitamin K for your body!