(NaturalHealth365) Vitamin K doesn’t get as much attention as some of the other vitamins, but ignoring this essential nutrient would be a mistake. In fact, it may even be good for your health to ask, ‘what does vitamin K do’?
Vitamin K is a necessary component in the blood clotting process, which occurs when you cut yourself so that you don’t lose too much blood. Assisting in coagulation may be vitamin K’s best-known function, and the vitamin’s name, “K,” comes from the German word, “koagulation.”
However, vitamin K’s effects go beyond blood clotting, and this vitamin can even fight chronic diseases to increase your life expectancy.
What does vitamin K do to extend the quality of my life?
Researchers suggests that vitamin K can lower your risk for a variety of chronic conditions, such as heart disease, diabetes, osteoporosis, and cancer. Vitamin K often acts through a group of proteins called Gla-proteins.
- Heart disease: Individuals who consume more vitamin K have a lower risk of dying of coronary artery disease. Vitamin K activates a Gla-protein in your blood vessels that helps protect against atherosclerosis, or calcification of the arteries.
- Diabetes: Vitamin K tends to improve insulin sensitivity and lower the risk of having uncontrolled blood sugar, or diabetes. It also lowers your blood sugar levels after a meal.
- Osteoporosis: Osteoporosis is a condition in which your bones become too brittle and are susceptible to breaking. Hips, wrists, and ribs commonly suffer osteoporotic fractures – which can be life-threatening in the elderly. Vitamin K activates a Gla-protein called osteocalcin – which enable your bones to retain calcium and prevent an unnatural loss of bone density.
- Cancer: Vitamin K may help protect against certain cancers, such as liver and prostate.
Heart disease and cancer account for two-thirds of preventable American deaths, and diabetes is the seventh-leading cause of death due to avoidable lifestyle habits. Obviously, when you lower the risk of degenerative disease – with proper nutrition – you’ll tend to increase your life expectancy.
Where can I get vitamin K?
There are three types of vitamin K. Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is found in plant foods – especially green vegetables like, kale and collard greens. Although not a large amount, vitamin K1 does go directly into the liver and helps you maintain healthy blood clotting.
Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is made by the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract; K2, in food, can best be found in fermented foods like natto, kefir, miso and sauerkraut. Just be sure these foods are ‘raw’, not pasteurized. K2 goes directly to the blood vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than the liver.
Vitamin K3, or menadione, is a synthetic form – which should be avoided at all costs. In fact, vitamin K3 toxicity has been seen in infants injected with this synthetic version.
For vitamin K supplementation, most natural health experts recommend vitamin K2. If you don’t want to take supplements, you can usually get enough vitamin K2 by eating 15 grams, or half an ounce of natto, daily. (about 200 micrograms) It’s a very small amount, but most Americans do not like the taste or smell.
Having said that, if you don’t like natto, you may want to ask your healthcare provider about a high-quality K2 supplement. Just remember to take K2 with fat (like coconut oil) or it won’t be absorbed. Cees Vermeer, Ph.D., the foremost expert in the world on vitamin K, suggests between 45 and 185 mcg daily for adults. Just be careful and ask your doctor about supplementation – especially if you’re taking anticoagulants for any reason.