You might have only heard of vitamin K as an essential part of helping your blood to clot properly when you have an injury. However, this potent vitamin plays several other roles in a number of other potentially critical health issues as well. Let’s take a look at vitamin K and where you can find it naturally. Then, we dive into our list of proven vitamin K benefits.
But first, you need to know the main purpose of this vitamin. Your body utilizes the fat-soluble vitamin K to perform several functions including the binding of calcium in bones and other tissues. It is also assisting in the breaking down of protein enzymes which are necessary for blood coagulation.
10 Essential Vitamin K Benefits That You Body Might Need
1. Helps Prevent Cancer
One of the most surprising of potential vitamin K benefits comes in the prevention of cancer.
A Spanish study reports an inverse relationship between the dietary consumption of vitamin K and cancer mortality rates.
2. Better Heart Health
For those without clotting issues, vitamin K benefits the health of your heart.
Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine conducted research which indicates that vitamin K has a significant impact on calcium buildup. This targets arthrosclerosis or hardening of the arteries.
3. Improves Insulin Resistance
Improved insulin resistance, according to a Tufts University study, can also on the list of vitamin K benefits. The research shows that vitamin K had a significant impact on insulin resistance in older males with diabetes.
4. Protects Against Alzheimer’s
Another impressive item on the list of vitamin K benefits relates to its ability to help protect against the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
An article in Science Direct reports that vitamin K deficiency is a major factor associated with the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
5. Helps Prevent Osteoporosis
Because of the fact that it aids in the binding of calcium to bones and other tissues, vitamin K benefits the health of elderly persons in the prevention of osteoporosis.
Dutch research points to a deficiency of vitamin K as a contributing factor to bone loss and the development of osteoporosis.
6. Helps Reduce PMS Symptoms
The reduction of PMS symptoms is among the most impressive of vitamin K benefits.
Dr. Jeremy Kaslow indicates that the excessive bleeding associated with PMS subtype H is caused by, among other issues, a deficiency of vitamin K which aids in clotting.
7. Aids in Blood Clotting
Blood clotting, unless it is excessive is one of the most critical among the many vitamin K benefits. University of Vermont scientists have been working on having a greater understanding of vitamin K’s role in coagulation.
Therefore, their study is an attempt to find a balance for the necessary function of blood clotting. This is as opposed to excessive clotting which can be life threatening.
8. Improves Oral Health
It is aiding in the reduction of bleeding related to gingivitis. Moreover, vitamin K benefits oral health due to the fact that it helps to bind calcium to bones, tissues and teeth.
Harvard research expounds upon this critical function of vitamin K and its effects in all areas where calcium binding is critical.
9. Contributes to Longevity
Tufts University has noted the vitamin K benefits as related to longevity as well. Their study notes a link between vitamin K deficiency and health conditions that come with age. It also influences subsequent mortality rates.
10. Vitamin K and Gut Health
Vitamin K2 is produced in the gut. So, the best vitamin K benefits often associate with an increase of beneficial gut flora.
The European Journal of Cancer Prevention gives further explanation of the important role of gut health and vitamin synthesis in their study.
Types of Vitamin K
There are three different types of vitamin K which you need to be aware of before jumping into using it as a supplement.
- Vitamin K1, is the type which is naturally in plants, especially green vegetables. It goes directly to your liver where it to performs its critical functions.
- Vitamin K2, is a product of the beneficial bacteria which line your gastrointestinal tract. It goes directly into the blood vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than the liver.
- Vitamin K3, is a synthetic form which can be toxic and you should avoid it.
Foods Which Contain Vitamin K
Both plant and animal foods provide your body with vitamin K. Butt the most abundant sources of this essential vitamin are found in leafy, dark green vegetables like kale and spinach. Additionally, herbs and spices including parsley, basil, cilantro, sage, oregano and black pepper also contain significant amounts of vitamin K as well.
Kiwis, blueberries, plumbs and grapes also contain high quantities of vitamin K. There are also the meats that come from grass-fed beef and lamb or dairy products and eggs which are produced free range.
A Note of Caution
As per the above, it is best to stay away from synthetic forms of vitamin K, vitamin K3, due to their toxicity. It is far safer to consume vitamin K in its natural form, vitamin K1. Also, do what is necessary to enhance the probiotics in your gut to assist in the natural production of vitamin K2. Naturally occurring vitamin K has few harmful side effects when you consume it as a regular part of your diet. However, if you utilize it in a therapeutic capacity you need to be aware of hits potential hazards.
The main issue with vitamin K where drug interactions are concerned is related to anti-coagulant medications which help to prevent strokes and cardiac arrest due to a high potential for blood clotting. If you are taking these medications, you need to consult with a health care professional concerning how much naturally occurring vitamin K you should have in your daily diet.
A Final Word
Beyond blood coagulation, the vitamin K benefits are extensive and there is plenty of science behind them. If you do not have to concern with the potential side effects of increased vitamin K in your diet, then make it a habit of consuming more of the foods which contain this potent vitamin and keep your beneficial gut flora thriving.
Present your questions or success stories using vitamin K in the comments section below.