Just when you thought you’d learned your vitamin-A-B-C’s, along comes another vitamin, vitamin K. And, just to add interest to the mix, there are three of them; vitamin K1, K2 and K3. Friendly bacteria in your intestines are responsible for synthesizing vitamin K1 and K2 so be sure to include a source of probiotics every day. Vitamin K3 is a man-made substance, most used as a supplement, which is converted into K2 in the liver. So what does this unheard of vitamin do? All vitamin K’s are important for blood clotting and initiating the healing process by slowing and stopping the bleeding. Vitamin K’s are important for bone calcification as vitamin K helps the body absorb calcium. Recent studies have suggested that vitamin K may even help prevent or treat osteoporosis and the loss of bone density. By directing calcium into the bones, vitamin K helps keep elevated levels out of your arteries. In research studies involving more than 100,000 men and women in California, calcification occurring in the aorta increased the risk of coronary heart disease 127% in men and 122% in women, with women also having an 146% increased risk of stroke. Vitamin K-dependent proteins have been shown to restrain this calcification in the heart and arteries and, as a bonus, also in the kidneys. To read the full article on vitamin K, go to www.nutters.com. And to make 2011 your healthiest year ever, join Nutter’s on Facebook/nuttersnatural for your daily health tip.
RECOMMENDED DAILY ALLOWANCE:
What Does That Look Like?
|1 cup raw kale|
1/2 cup cooked spinach
1/2 cup cooked beet greens
4 cooked Brussels sprouts
1 cup green leaf lettuce
2 stalks celery
In general, Vitamin K is found in leafy vegetables (especially kale, spinach and celery), cheese and liver. It is also found in asparagus, coffee, bacon and green tea. “Green” smoothies are a wonderful way to get your recommended daily allowance of vitamin K (and, for that matter, vitamin A too).
Try these two yummy examples:
In a powerful blender, combine:
1 large Pink Lady apple, cored, peeled and seeded
1 pear, cored, peeled and seeded
1 cup kale, spine removed, chopped
¼ cup water
2 cups spinach, chopped
1 green apple, cored, peeled and seeded
1 yellow apple, cored, peeled and seeded
3 cups water
THE VITAMIN K FAMILY OF VITAMINS
In nature, vitamin K is found in the forms of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and several different types of vitamin K2 (menaquinones).
K1, which is involved in photosynthesis, is produced by plants and algae, its highest concentrations found in green leafy vegetables. Primary dietary sources of K1 are leafy greens, such as broccoli, kale, and Swiss chard, and plant oils, such as canola and soybean oil.
K2 is produced by bacteria and also via the conversion of K1 to K2 by beneficial bacteria in the intestines of animals, including humans. Natto (fermented soybeans) is the richest dietary source of vitamin K2. Dairy products (milk, butter, cottage cheese, cheese) and egg yolk also provide small amounts.
K2 is more potent and has the widest range of activity. Far more active than K1 in both bone formation and reduction of bone loss, K2 is a 15-fold more powerful antioxidant than K1, and is also the form in which vitamin K has been found to protect against arterial calcification and the oxidation (free radical damage) of LDL cholesterol. 1
THE FUNCTIONS OF VITAMIN K IN THE BODY
Vitamin K is not a new-comer to the identified spectrum of vitamins and is not strictly one vitamin; it’s three components of the same compound. Nor is it as well-known as some of its more common cousins that might spring to mind when you say the word “vitamins”. However, more and more is being revealed about the importance of the K vitamins to our health and well-being, particularly when it comes to preventing arterial calcification (the accumulation of calcium in the arteries) and amalgamating calcium into bone. There have also been recent developments which suggest vitamin K holds strong anti-inflammatory properties and may even be helpful in the fight against cancer.
K1 is the form used in the liver to activate clotting factors, while K2 is the form used in the rest of the body to activate other vitamin K-dependent proteins essential for bone health and the prevention of calcification of blood vessels and organs, including the heart and kidneys.
Vitamin K2 is also found in high concentrations in the brain where it contributes to the production of myelin (a fatty substance that covers and protects nerves), protects brain cells against free radical injury and is thought to play a role in the development of the central nervous system. K2 also activates a number of other proteins that regulate bone metabolism and inhibit the growth of cancer cells. 2
Supplementing with vitamin K enhances the bone-building process by attracting calcium to the bone and by restricting the amount secreted by the body through urine, leaving more in the body to be absorbed by the bone.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS OF A VITAMIN K DEFICIENCY?
If your diet is high in green and leafy vegetables, you shouldn’t experience a deficiency, and indeed, a deficiency in vitamin K is rare. However, when a deficiency does happen, it can cause abnormal and/or internal bleeding. Other factors that could bring about a deficiency include Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, liver disease and the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs, aspirin and/or blood thinners.
Antibiotics increase the need for dietary or supplemental vitamin K. Because bacteria in the intestines synthesize vitamin K, taking antibiotics –眀栀椀挀栀 欀椀氀氀 琀栀攀 戀愀挀琀攀爀椀愀 ጀ interferes with this process. Antibiotics also interfere with the absorption of vitamin K. 3
Toxicity does not easily occur with normal dietary intake of vitamin K but it can happen if synthetic vitamin K3 is taken. High to toxic uptake in the synthetic form can cause flushing, jaundice and sweating.
MORE SOURCES OF VITAMIN K
- Blackstrap molasses,
- Brussels sprouts
- Egg yolks
- Safflower oil
- Canola oil
For best absorption, consume vitamin K along with a dietary fat. For example, have a green, leafy salad with a dressing made with either of the oils listed above.
NUTTERS CAN SUGGEST…
Vitamin K & D features vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7 (MK-7), an advanced, fat-soluble form of vitamin K that serves multiple functions in the body. Only K2 in the form of MK-7 has been shown to offer 24-hour protection from a single daily dose. Other commercially-available subtypes of K2 are required in much larger dosages to be effective.
Vitamin D supports bone development and is needed for calcium absorption while vitamin K is needed to direct the minerals to the right place, preventing an inappropriate calcification of soft tissues. Vitamin K & D uses vitamin D3 (cholecalciferol), a natural form of vitamin D that is safer and more biologically active. Evidence shows that vitamins K2 and D3 work synergistically to improve bone density. Many of the clinical trials examining the effects of K2 on bone density found a much greater effect when vitamins K2 and D3 were given together as opposed to either nutrient alone. There is even evidence to suggest that the safety of vitamin D is dependent on adequate vitamin K and that vitamin D toxicity (which is extremely rare with the D3 form) is actually an induced deficiency of vitamin K2.
1. Smart Publications
2. Smart Publications
3. Prescription for Nutritional Healing, 4th Edition, Phyllis A. Balch, CNC
Carol Roy is a Natural Health Practitioner who received her diploma from the Alternative Medicine College of Canada in Montreal, Quebec. With 12 years experience in her area of expertise, natural health and wellness, Carol has also trained to become a fully qualified Reiki Master, Quantum Touch Practitioner, and Reflexologist.
The suggestions by Nutter’s Bulk & Natural Foods and the contents of this article
are recommendations only and not a substitute for any medical advice or a
replacement for any prescriptions. Seek medical advice for any health concerns.
Consult your health care provider before using any recommendations herein.