Vitamin K in the Diet – Foods High in Vitamin K
By: Wilfred Rawventure Campbell
Tags: blood thinning, bones in the body, CALCUIM, cardiovascular diseases, Coumadin, deficiency of vitamin k, food combining, fruit, Health, healthy, Hemorrhages, intestines, onset of menopause, Osteoporosis, vegan, vegetarian, vitality, vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin K deficiency, vitamin k1, vitamin k2, Warfarin
Vitamin K is an important nutrient required by the body, to regulate normal blood clotting process. Whenever there is a cut on the body, it is necessary that the blood clots, so as to avoid excess blood flow. When the prothrombin in the blood converts to thrombin, the blood coagulates. Vitamin K aids this chemical reaction and converts prothrombin into thrombin, thereby avoiding hemorrhaging. Vitamin K is also necessary to maintain healthy bones and flexible blood vessels. They play an important role in the formation of bones in the body. Vitamin K is one of the important vitamins, that carry calcium in our body. It provides protection to the bones during a fracture and also helps to prevent bone loss after the onset of menopause.What are the different types of vitamin K?
What are the different types of vitamin K?
The intestines can produce vitamin K, a function that can be enhanced by cultured milk, such as yogurt, being included in the diet.
Vitamin K is actually a group of vitamins, that are medically referred as naphthoquinones. Vitamin K1 is found naturally in some plants while vitamin K2 is produced in intestines of the human body. Vitamin K is also produced in synthetic forms that include, vitamin K3, K4, etc. These synthetic forms of vitamin K are usually manufactured as medications. Vitamin K is a discovery of a scientist named, Henrik Dam. Initially, this vitamin was called koagulationsvitamin and later it came to be known as vitamin K. Before knowing the foods high in vitamin K, let us take a look at what is the significance of vitamin K in our diet.
Vitamin K is categorized as a fat-soluble vitamin, which means that it is absorbed by the body and is deposited in fat tissues, thus reducing the requirement of ingesting it in large quantities. This can lead to two possibilities: Firstly, that taking too much of vitamin K may result in toxicity, and secondly, the symptoms of a deficiency of vitamin K may take years to manifest itself.
What is the recommended dietary allowance of vitamin K?
The recommended dietary allowance, or RDA, for vitamin K is 80 micrograms (mcg) per day for men and 65 mcg for women. While some of this is produced by the microbes in the intestines, most of it is ingested in the food we eat. While, care must be taken to be aware that this recommended dosage is just the minimum that is required each day in order to avoid deficiency in this nutrient, however, neither should it be consumed in excess of the recommended amounts – except under stringent medical supervision – due to the potential of high toxicity levels developing since it is a fat-soluble vitamin.
Vitamin K Deficiency Causes
Not having a proper diet is one of the major causes of vitamin K and all vitamin deficiencies. All the essential vitamins required by the body are found in foods obtained from plant and/or animal sources. Therefore, if a person has an improper diet, that does not contain healthy or vitamin K containing foods, he/she may experience vitamin K deficiency. On the other hand, it is also found that prolong use of antibiotics can also lead to vitamin K deficiency. Similarly, certain medications (usually those taken orally) tend to lower the amounts of vitamin K in the body which can lead to deficiency. It should be noted that vitamin K deficiency is rarely found, however, should not be ignored. Let us take a look at the symptoms of vitamin K deficiency in detail.
Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms
As vitamin K helps in clotting of blood, absence of this vitamin can lead to bleeding. Secondly, disorders of the bones and bone development are also found in case of vitamin K deficiency, specially in case of children. It should be noted that anemia is one of the most prominent vitamin K deficiency symptoms in women. As vitamin K affects the function of blood cells, there are chances of developing anemia in case of this vitamin deficiency. However, peculiarly, it is found that overdose of vitamin K in newborn children or babies can also lead to anemia. Therefore, it should be noted that vitamin K and anemia are related to each other. Secondly, vitamin K deficiency and its effect on bone health should also not be ignored. The following are the vitamin K deficiency symptoms in adults and children.
- Difficulty in blood clotting
- Bleeding in gums, nose
- Excessive bleeding during menstruation
- Internal bleeding in gastrointestinal tract
- Easy bruising
- High susceptibility to bone fractures
- Blood in urine
Any person with excess Vitamin K could suffer from thickened blood leading to heart attack, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. Individuals undergoing treatment for blood thinning need to make sure that their Vitamin K intake is less to avoid any adverse effects. Medicines such as Warfarin and Coumadin must be consumed as prescribed to avoid blood thickening.
Vitamin K rich foods are found in plenty but most people are unaware and indifferent towards their use. People prefer cooked and spicy food instead of nutritious fruits and salads. A little awareness would lead one to a better and healthier future.
What are the various effects of vitamin K in the diet?
As has been mentioned above, vitamin K is utilized by the body for controlling blood clotting. It is essential for the creation of the liver protein, prothrombin, which precedes the formation of thrombin, which in turn is a vitally important factor in the clotting of blood.
Also, since vitamin K is associated with the formation and repair of bone, it is thought to alleviate the severity or incidence of osteoporosis as well as slow loss of bone.
Vitamin K also helps in converting glucose into glycogen in the intestines, which is then stored in the liver.
Cooking Foods High in Vitamin K
Raw foods such as fruits and salads are the best source of Vitamin K as it is easier to absorb minerals from these foods. The best way to enjoy Vitamin K rich food is by making salads from the green vegetables and fruits and adding it to the everyday diet. Cooked foods are considered bad source of vitamins. While cooking, health properties of the food is lost as the chemical bonds are broken and the nutrients are destroyed. The simplest way of retaining the vitamins is to cook the food lightly or having half-cooked food. The nutritional values of these vegetables are retained with those crispy vegetables. While boiling the nutrients are lost into the water so it is better to use the boiled water as a soup or as a stock.
High Vitamin K Foods
Mentioned below are some high vitamin k foods that can be included in the daily diet. A point to be noted is that vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin, hence avoid adding excessive vitamin K in the diet. It is necessary to maintain a balance.
Cauliflower is a good source of vitamin K. One cup of cauliflower covers about 20% of the daily requirements of the body. The vitamin K in cauliflower provides the body with anti-inflammatory benefits. It can be cooked in several recipes and experts recommend cauliflower, at least thrice a week.
Spinach is one of the vitamin K rich foods. With one cup of fresh spinach, you can get up to 200% of your daily requirement of vitamin K. This vitamin prevents excessive activation of the cells that are responsible for breaking down the bone. It also helps in the release of osteocalcin which is an important protein in the bones. This wonderful leafy vegetable can be used in a number of recipes and also in soups and salads.
Broccoli is one of the vitamin K foods. Steamed broccoli is a very good source of vitamin K as it covers almost 194% of the daily requirements. One cup of broccoli is sufficient for an adult. This can either be eaten steamed or could be a part of any other recipe.
Vitamin K foods are necessary to reduce the risk of hip fractures. Daily consumption of food containing vitamin K is very important. By consuming about half a cup of parsley, you can get almost 75% of the daily requirements of the body. An interesting fact to note is that the vitamin K in parsley doubles when the parsley is cooked.
Some Common Vitamin K Rich Foods
These are some common sources of Vitamin K:
- Amaranth leaves
- Beet greens
- Brussels sprouts
- Dandelion greens
- Mustard greens
- Sea kelp
- Turnip greens
Some Dried Spices with High Vitamin K
- Celery flakes
As you can see from the above there are several vitamin K foods and the vitamin k content of foods is necessary for the proper functioning of your body. All these vitamin k food sources are easily available and they can easily form a part of your daily diet. However, do not go overboard nor reduce the vitamin K consumption. Keep the consumption balanced so that you get the daily dose of this much-needed vitamin.
Why is vitamin K in the diet important for people on warfarin?
There are several medical conditions wherein excessive clotting in the body needs to be prevented. Blood clots in the arteries, veins and heart can cause phlebitis, strokes and heart attacks. Warfarin, a blood thinner, is one of the drugs that is used for preventing clots forming in such patients. Warfarin does this by interfering with prothrombin being produced in the liver. Every patient prescribed warfarin has to undergo a blood test known as prothrombin time, or P.T., or pro time, in order to determine the correct dosage of warfarin. An excessive dosage of warfarin results in bleeding, while a dosage that is too low does not prevent the clotting.
So, the reason why vitamin K in the diet is important for people on warfarin is that if too much of it is consumed, it can interfere with the effects of warfarin, resulting in blood clots forming.
However, people on anticoagulant medications need not avoid foods that contain vitamin K altogether. Rather, they need to keep the consumption more or less consistent, instead of ingesting a lot of it one day and too little the next. This will help in allowing the anti-clotting drug to work, controlling the formation of blood clots. It can be helpful to keep a food diary to monitor the potential interaction between the medication and the diet. In case the P.T. gets too low, the doctor will be able to consult the food diary to determine if too much of foods containing vitamin K has been eaten.
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