The nutritional supplements market is huge.
And while many are familiar with omega-3 fish oils, calcium supplements and vitamins C, B, D and E, there is another vitamin that needs your attention…
As you age, or let healthy eating habits fall to the wayside — or worse, both — you’re at much higher risk of suffering from bone loss, heart disease and hardening of the arteries. Yet, in many cases these diseases and conditions can be prevented, even reversed, just by getting enough vitamin K.
Vitamin K’s main forms
Like with other vitamins, vitamin K has various forms; one of which has two sub-forms. The primary form are K1 and K2 and then there is also K3. The body uses them all, though K1 and K2 are found naturally in foods, including green leafy vegetables, fermented dairy and beans.
Vitamin K’s role and benefits
Vitamin K has been shown to play a key role strengthening bones, reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes, and preventing and even reversing osteoporosis; especially in post-menopausal women.
Vitamin K plays a set of important key roles, such as making the protein osteocalcin, which is necessary for strengthening bones.
But it is also essential in making a protein that helps to regulate where in the body calcium is deposited. When it comes to preventing the arteries form hardening, vitamin K helps make the protein matrix GLA (MGP), which directs calcium to the bones instead of allowing it to deposit in the arteries.
The journal Integrative Medicine, reported this finding:
“An adequate intake of vitamin K2 has been shown to lower the risk of vascular damage because it activates matrix GLA protein (MGP), which inhibits the deposits of calcium on the walls. Vitamin K, particularly as vitamin K2, is nearly nonexistent in junk food, with little being consumed even in a healthy Western diet. Vitamin K deficiency results in inadequate activation of MGP, which greatly impairs the process of calcium removal and increases the risk of calcification of the blood vessels. An increased intake of vitamin K2 could be a means of lowering calcium-associated health risks.”
Vitamin K is also associated with insulin sensitivity and blood sugar metabolism. According to the Diabetes Council website…
In 2010, a Dutch study was conducted on 38094 people and was followed up for 10.3 years. This study found that those who had good levels of either phyloquinone or menaquinone had a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Similarly, a 2012 detailed and long term study from Spain was conducted on 1069 people without diabetes who were already taking part in the Prevention with the Mediterranean Diet trial. Every year data was collected to check for diabetes. After one year, people with higher levels of vitamin K were found to have lower risk for diabetes.
How much vitamin K do you need?
The best way to consume vitamin K is through whole food sources. Supplementation is also good, especially if you do not have access to a better diet.
50 to 100 mcg daily is a basic level for healthy individuals. Some advocate postmenopausal women take between 5 mg and 45 mg daily. I would consult with your healthcare provider for details on your specific needs.
In the meantime, because of its many health benefits, I recommend increasing your consumption of foods high in this vitamin.
Best foods containing vitamin K
Vitamin K is found green leafy vegetables, including broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, parsley, spinach, swish chard and the “greens” (collard, turnip, mustard and beet). It is also found in dairy, fermented dairy (yogurt, cheese), miso, chickpeas beans, liver, soybean oil, wheat bran.
Here are some specifics, for reference:
- Kale contains 565 mcg per 1/2 cup, cooked
- Collard greens contain 530 mcg per 1/2 cup, boiled
- Spinach contains 444 mcg per 1/2 cup, cooked
- Brussels sprouts contain 150 mcg per 1/2 cup, cooked
- Sauerkraut contains 56 mcg per 1/2 cup
- Soybeans contain 43 mcg per 1/2 cup, roasted
Consult with your physician about vitamin K if you are taking blood thinning drugs like Coumadin, as there are reported adverse interactions.
Partnering vitamins K and D
According to research published in the International Journal of Endocrinology, “Animal and human studies suggest that optimal concentrations of both vitamin D and vitamin K are beneficial for bone and cardiovascular health as supported by genetic, molecular, cellular, and human studies… Current evidence supports the notion that joint supplementation of vitamins D and K might be more effective than the consumption of either alone for bone and cardiovascular health.”