Vitamin K - For What It Is, Foods and Benefits


Vitamin K - For What It Is, Foods and Benefits / Supplements

Vitamins are essential nutrients for the functioning of the whole organism, participating in numerous chemical reactions of metabolism. These nutrients are organic substances that our body can not produce and that must be obtained through healthy eating, ensuring a complete physical and mental well-being. 

Know below what vitamin K is, know what it is for, its function and benefits, as well as the foods that contain this nutrient.

What is vitamin K?

Vitamins are essential organic substances for the body and are present in small amounts in food. They participate in various metabolic functions that are controlled by enzymes and coenzymes. Vitamins are indispensable in the functioning of the body, as they participate in the form of cofactors, participating directly in many processes and playing a vital role in cellular metabolism.

The human organism promotes the synthesis of some vitamins, but needs to acquire most of it through food and supplementation, being basically divided into water soluble and fat soluble. Among the fat-soluble vitamins is vitamin K that was first discovered by researcher Henrik Dam in 1929 during a study with chickens, observing hemorrhage as a hallmark of a fat-free diet.

In this research, Henrik Dam found that the symptom was relieved by the intake of a fat-soluble substance that he called vitamin K or vitamin coagulation. In this way, vitamin K was considered an anti-hemorrhagic factor that could reestablish blood disorders in some types of animals. It was only in 1939 that this vitamin was isolated, and its chemical structure became known.

Vitamin K is found in plant and animal foods, with a higher concentration of dark green leaves. This vitamin is present in several forms, such as phylloquinone being predominant, being present in vegetable oils and vegetables such as dihydrofiloquinone, being formed during the commercial hydrogenation of vegetable oils, such as menaquinone, being synthesized by bacteria and as menadione which is a synthetic compound to be converted into the intestine.

Vitamin K is absorbed into the small intestine and then transported through the lymphatic pathways. In order for this transport to occur properly, it is important that there is a normal flow of bile and pancreatic juice, and an adequate fat content in the diet is necessary.

There are many factors involved in the absorption of this vitamin, among them some specific diseases, biliary secretion, nutritional status of the patient, intestinal malabsorption among many others.

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What is Vitamin K for?

Vitamin K has several health benefits, and is essential for many processes in metabolism, acting in conjunction with other types of nutrients, among other vitamins, minerals, enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants and bioflavonoids.

Although vitamin K deficiency is a rare condition in adults, many people have symptoms and may develop illnesses with the low amount of vitamin K, especially those who are already debilitated due to a health problem.

The use of certain medications can also cause a deficiency of vitamin K, such as some types of antibiotics and also some blood-thinning medications. Patients who use these types of medications are usually advised to use supplements rich in vitamin K or need to increase the intake of foods containing this vitamin.

People with celiac disease (gluten intolerance) are also susceptible to this problem because the absorption of nutrients is impaired due to the problem.

The main symptoms that signal a possible deficiency of this nutrient are the increase of the menstrual bleeding, bleeding in the gums, bleeds in the nose, fragilities in the blood vessels, presence of hematomas throughout the body, bleeding in the urine, excessive bleeding in the wounds, all related to low ability to coagulate the body.

The importance of proper consumption of this vitamin is enormous, avoiding many symptoms and health problems because of its deficiency and also bringing various benefits with its consumption properly.

Benefits of Vitamin K

Here are some of these benefits of vitamin K:

- Promotes blood clotting

The main function of vitamin K is to participate in the process of blood clotting.This vitamin is an essential part of glutamic acid, an amino acid that participates in a process called carboxylation that allows blood from a wound to stop and coagulate, thus avoiding excess bleeding. In addition, some studies have shown that deficiency of this vitamin can lead to bleeding, anemia, severe menstrual bleeding, among many others.

- Promotes bone health

Vitamin K is important for bone health because it has the function of blocking the formation of osteoclasts, which are the bone cells that leave the essential minerals to the bones available for other bodily functions. This process is also known as demineralization. When the formation of the osteoclasts is not controlled, the bones can lose many minerals, generating diverse problems.

In addition, there is a protein called osteocalcin that is directly related to bone mineral density and is altered through carboxylation. This protein is essential for strengthening the health and composition of bones. Studies show that high intakes of vitamin K can stop bone loss in people with osteoporosis.

- Increases heart health

Among the many causes of heart attacks, calcification of the arteries is one of them. This vitamin carries calcium from the arteries and does not allow it to form in hard plaque deposits. It also has the function of assisting in preventing hardening of the arteries as it keeps calcium out of its coatings and other body tissues.

- Reduces menstrual cramp pains

This vitamin acts on blood clotting, avoiding excessive bleeding during the menstrual cycle which can increase cramps and pain during menstruation. Studies have shown that vitamin K may help in reducing PMS symptoms and that its deficiency may also increase and worsen these symptoms.

What are the main sources of vitamin K?

Consumption of vitamin K should preferably be done through healthy eating, but supplementation may also be a recommendation depending on each case. This vitamin is necessary for the use of proteins, in blood clotting, in healing and in the replenishment of nutrients in the bones. The recommended amount of this nutrient is 100 to 130 mcg per day. There are several foods rich in this nutrient, see some of them, below:

  • Cabbage - Each 70 g of cabbage has approximately 145 mcg of vitamin K;
  • Spinach - Each 60 g of spinach has approximately 96 mcg of vitamin K;
  • Brussels sprouts - Every 80 g of brussels sprouts has approximately 450 mcg of vitamin K, being one of the best foods rich in this nutrient;
  • Broccoli - Each 90 g of broccoli has approximately 250 mcg of vitamin K;
  • Cauliflower - Each 50 g of cauliflower has approximately 150 mcg of vitamin K;
  • Lettuce - Each 60 g of lettuce has approximately 120 mcg of vitamin K;
  • Carrot - Each 80 g of carrot has approximately 110 mcg of vitamin K;
  • Cucumber - Each 100 g of cucumber has approximately 76 mcg of vitamin K;
  • eggs - Each 50 g of egg has approximately 24 mcg of vitamin K;

Conclusion

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin found in plant and animal foods and is essential for many processes in metabolism, promoting blood clotting, helping to improve bone health, promoting heart health, reducing colic pain menstrual, among many other functions. This vitamin is easily found in several foods, playing a key role in health.

Do you consume food sources of vitamin K often? Have you ever been diagnosed or do you know anyone with vitamin K deficiency? Comment below!