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Health Benefits of Vitamin K (Phytonadione, Menaquinane, Menadione)
Vitamin K is a not very well known member of the fat soluble vitamins. It actually has three forms: phytomenadione (Vitamin K1), menaquinane
(Vitamin K2), and menadione (Vitamin K3). These three similar, yet different, compounds are
commonly referred to as quinines. Vitamin K, much like Vitamin D, is a vitamin that the body is normally able to produce itself. It does so with the help of bacteria which are naturally
found in the large intestines. It can also be obtained from natural sources and by means of a Vitamin K supplement as will be discussed later in this article.
The Blood Clotting Vitamin
You may sometimes hear Vitamin K referred to as the "blood clotting" vitamin. This is because that is the major task most commonly associated with
it. However, it has many other important functions as well and those other capabilities are often overlooked in discussions of the benefits
of this vitamin.
It is easily understood that effective blood clotting is necessary to help wounds heal. Vitamin K is valuable in helping regulate and form the coagulator factors that we need to clot the blood. It is interesting to note that a newborn's stomach is a very sterile environment and for the first few days of life, lacks the bacteria which are necessary to produce Vitamin K. For this reason, newborns are commonly given a shot of Vitamin K as a way kick start the blood clotting process.
Vitamin K's Role in the Prevention of Heart Disease and Coronary Disease
Vitamin K also has a significant role to play in the prevention of heart disease as well as related coronary disease. It accomplishes this by keeping the mineral calcium away from artery walls. When this calcium is not present, it cannot damage or block the artery walls themselves or the tissues that surround them. Vitamin K also may help regulate calcium and reduce the risk of developing kidney stones.
It Helps Build Healthy Bones
Another function of Vitamin K is its aid to the body in building new,
strong bones. Certain proteins are necessary for us in order to
maintain healthy teeth and bones. Those proteins cannot form
without the aid of Vitamin K. Vitamin K enhances bone density by acting as a glue, if you will, so that calcium is better able to
attach itself to bones.
Vitamin K for Women - Prevention of Osteoporosis and Heavy Menstrual Flow
Women who find themselves experiencing heavy bleeding during their menstrual cycles are sometimes treated with Vitamin K. In postmenopausal women, Vitamin K can help to prevent the onset of osteoporosis by helping them increase bone mass.
What are Some Sources of Vitamin K?
For an adequate supply of Vitamin K from foods, eat leafy green vegetables. These are a great source of Vitamin K in a
natural form, so be sure to eat spinach, kale, broccoli, collard
greens, okra, asparagus, brussel sprouts, cabbage, green beans and
turnip greens. It can also found in many dairy products, corn and soya
oil, liver, eggs, fish, seaweed, lentils, nuts, potatoes, and
alfalfa. Obviously, it can also be gotten by taking a regular
Vitamin K supplement or even a daily multivitamin which contains it.
Recommended Daily Intake
The commonly recommended daily intake of Vitamin K is as follows:
Symptoms of a Vitamin K Deficiency
- Men, 80 micrograms/day.
- Women, 65 micrograms/day, including women who are pregnant or who are breastfeeding.
Since this Vitamin is commonly produced within the body, vitamin k deficiencies are going to be more common among people
who have some sort of digestive trouble, especially as one related to the body's ability to properly absorb nutrients. Those who have had
some form of bowel surgery or surgery of the stomach, such as bariatric surgery, may also have difficulty producing sufficient levels of
Vitamin K. A deficiency in this nutrient may also be noticed in individuals who have been taking an antibiotic for a prolonged period of time.
Considering the importance of Vitamin K to the blood clotting process, one of the most recognizable symptoms of a Vitamin K deficiency is
going to be the amount of time it takes blood to clot. Another
indicator of a problem with the production of this compound is going to
be seen in a person who bleeds easily and for long periods of time.
People with a Vitamin K deficiency will also tend to develop bruises
more quickly than normal. Injuries that normally would be considered
minor and non-threatening can become serious situations when blood does not clot as it should.
Vitamin K Overdose - Vitamin K and Warfarin (Coumadin)
You should not be too concerned about a Vitamin K overdose, as there doe not seem to be any known toxicity related to high doses of
Vitamin K. However, when you take into account its role in the coagulation of
the blood, it is generally not a good idea to take a Vitamin K supplement when taking anticoagulant medications such as Warfarin (coumadin).
If you are taking Warfarin (Coumadin), you should check with your doctor before adding a Vitamin K supplement to your diet. These medications are attempting to thin the blood, while the vitamin is attempting to make it able to clot more easily. They work against each other. Warfarin (Coumadin) and foods rich in Vitamin K do not always go well together. Again, check with your doctor.
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