Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins found in foods and marketed as dietary supplements. The role of Vitamin K in protecting against heart disease is emerging. Vitamin K is known to help in the synthesis of certain proteins that are needed for blood coagulation and for controlling the binding of calcium in bones and other tissues. Also, it helps in regulating the levels of calcium in the blood. However, there are new findings regarding the other roles of vitamin K which is necessary for public knowledge and usage.
Forms of Vitamin K
Vitamin K exists in 2 forms, and they are vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone, is mostly found in plant foods such as leafy green vegetables and vegetable oils. Vitamin K1 makes up about 75–90% of all vitamin K that humans consume. Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods such as cheese, and animal products such as meats and eggs. Also, vitamin K2 is produced by gut bacteria.
Recent findings regarding vitamin K
Findings from recent research involving more than 53,000 Danish adults suggest that foods containing vitamin K may help to protect against cardiovascular disease. The research further investigates the activities of the two different forms of vitamin K. The participants were followed for an average of 21 years and their hospitalizations for heart disease, stroke, and peripheral artery disease were traced.
The findings showed that people with the highest amount of vitamin K1 intakes were up to 21% less likely to be hospitalized with cardiovascular diseases compared with people who had the lowest intakes of the vitamin. On the other hand, the risk with vitamin K2 was 14% lower. The finding regarding vitamin K2 is considered inconclusive as this vitamin exists in many different forms that act in different ways in the body.
Deficiency of vitamin K
The following signs may be associated with vitamin K deficiency:
- Bleeding from nose or gums.
- Excessive bleeding from wounds, and punctures.
- Easy bruising.
- Heavy menstrual periods.
- Bleeding from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract.
The more beneficial form of vitamin K investigated is the one most consumed by humans. Moreover, this form of vitamin K (K1) is easily obtainable from leafy vegetables and vegetable oils. By following the healthy eating guideline of eating plenty of vegetables every day and using vegetable oils rather than solid fats, you can easily obtain an adequate amount of vitamin K1 that your body needs.