Of the thirteen vitamins required by the body, vitamin K helps build healthy bones and tissues and produces proteins that allow blood to clot
A growing body of research suggests that ingesting adequate amounts of vitamin K helps prevent heart disease, cognitive problems, osteoarthritis and physical disabilities.
What you will learn about vitamin K in this article will help you become aware of its importance and applications in the field of health.
Contenido del Artículo
What are the functions of Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is an essential fat-soluble nutrient, found in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli and spinach, as well as in liver, meats, peas and eggs.
Although there are many forms of vitamin K, the two most studied are vitamin K1, found in plant-based foods, and vitamin K2, which is found mostly in animal products and fermented foods.
Keith R. Martin, Ph.D., a researcher at the Center for Nutraceutical and Dietary Supplement Research at the University of Memphis, says that this vitamin contributes to many types of molecular reactions in the body.
Some of the functions of vitamin K are:
- It aids in the synthesis of numerous clotting factors. Vitamin K1 or phytomenadione reacts with some proteins in charge of the blood coagulation process, it also helps the body to develop healthy bones and tissues
- Fixing calcium in the bones. Vitamin K2 or menaquinone is produced in the large intestine, and its function is to fix calcium in our bones, thus allowing the slowing down of the process of calcium accumulation in blood vessels, bones and other body tissues, which occurs as we age.
Benefits of vitamin K
Many studies conducted on vitamin K have presented a clearer picture of its importance and health benefits.
About 100 years ago, this vitamin was discovered by a Danish biochemist when he observed its role in preventing excessive bleeding after injury. Today, it is known that a lack of this vitamin in our body can lead to heavy bleeding in the gums or nose.
Beyond its role as a blood clotting agent, other benefits of vitamin K are listed below.
Prevents cardiovascular disease
Studies conducted two decades ago revealed that people who consume less vitamin K are more prone to coronary heart disease, probably because blood vessels tend to become stiffer and narrower in its absence
On the other hand, high blood pressure has been shown to increase the likelihood of cardiovascular disease. Although inappropriate diet and a sedentary lifestyle are known to influence a patient to develop it, researchers at the Free University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands have proven that having low levels of vitamins K and vitamin D can increase the risk of high blood pressure by 62%.
This is an important fact, since statistics from the Spanish Heart Foundation indicate that 42.6% of Spaniards suffer from hypertension.
Because of its role in allowing calcium fixation in the bones, vitamin K prevents calcification of blood vessels or the heart, which can lead to heart disease.
Contributes to a better physical appearance
Due to its anticoagulant and healing properties, it is an ingredient in numerous creams and gels created to soothe the skin, and is often used to revitalize and restore shine to irritated skin.
On the other hand, it has demonstrated its effectiveness for the elimination of dark circles under the eyes and veins of the skin, that is why it is part of many cosmetic products.
It decreases the risk of cataracts
Research conducted by the Biomedical Research Center Network-Physiopathology of Obesity and Nutrition of the Rovira Virgili University and the Pere Virgili Health Research Institute, which studied the dietary habits and lifestyles of 5,860 people for almost 6 years, found that people who regularly consume more foods rich in vitamin K have a 30% lower risk of cataracts.
This effect could be related to the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of vitamin K, as well as its role in glucose metabolism.
Contributes to strong bones
Several medical researches have established that people who consume foods rich in vitamin K more frequently are less prone to hip fractures, which is due to its role in the production of osteocalcin, a hormone necessary to keep bones strong and healthy.
Health professionals in some parts of the world prescribe vitamin K as part of the treatment for osteoporosis. In this regard, the European Food Safety Authority allows companies to claim that foods containing this vitamin contribute to bone health.
How can vitamin K be supplied?
Vitamin K is soluble in oils and fats and is often used in supplements, particularly vitamin K2, which must be used under strict medical supervision because of its role in blood coagulation.
In fact, it is not difficult to obtain it through a healthy and balanced diet such as the Mediterranean diet. Among the foods richest in vitamin K are green leafy vegetables such as spinach, chard, lettuce, cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts, spices such as curry, paprika and herbs, as well as meat, fish and eggs
Dr. Sarah Booth says, “If you eat a balanced diet with fruits and vegetables, you probably get an adequate amount of this vitamin. But as people get older, many don’t”. In this regard, it is said that an adult needs between 50 and 120 micrograms per day of vitamin K, depending on age and gender.
Vitamin K is a valuable natural gift that will allow having a stronger bone constitution and blood factors that fight bleeding.