What is Vitamin K, and what does it do for my body?
This fat-soluble vitamin is one that can be supplied by the diet, but can also be produced by our bodies (like Vitamin D!) Bacteria in our GI tract are capable of synthesizing Vitamin K, where it’s then absorbed and stored in the liver. Our bodies can make up to half of our daily needs!
Related Reading: Vitamin D
The RDA for men is 120 micrograms/day, and 90 micrograms/day for women. There is no upper limit set, because there are no known toxicity symptoms!
Vitamin K has one main function – blood clotting. It works by activating proteins that assist in the clotting of blood, as well as calcium. Clotting is important to stop bleeding from wounds, internal or external. It’s important to note that if someone is taking blood thinners as medication (like after having a heart attack), Vitamin K intake must be consistent each day, and it’s recommended to keep Vitamin K intake low so it’s easier to stay consistent each day.
The vitamin does also assist in creating strong bones by allowing bone proteins to bind with minerals. Without Vitamin K, bone density is low.
As you would expect, a deficiency in Vitamin K would result in an inability to properly clot blood. This could cause hemorrhaging and blood loss. As well, bones would not be able to mineralize and become strong, making fractures more possible.
Since our bodies can synthesize Vitamin K and store it easily, a deficiency is not common. Malabsorption of fat would result in lower levels of the fat-soluble vitamins, including K. Taking drugs like antibiotics (which kill gut bacteria) or blood thinners also affect Vitamin K’s production and ability to perform.
Where can I find Vitamin K in the diet?
On top of the vitamin being synthesized in our guts, there are great food sources to get the nutrient. Dark green, leafy vegetables like brussels sprouts, asparagus, broccoli, spinach, and collard greens are excellent sources of Vitamin K. Even chicken and pork have some of the vitamin, as well as avocado!