Vitamin K: The Amazing Nutrient You've Probably Never Heard Of
Vitamin what? K? Yup! Why’d they skip vitamins F, G, H, I & J? That's because the "K" stands for "koagulation" which is the Danish spelling for "coagulation." Vitamin K is the vitamin that helps the blood to clot or coagulate. And that's just the tip of the iceberg of what this amazing, underappreciated vitamin does for our bodies.
It’s one of the four fat-soluble vitamins: Vitamins A, D, E & K. Let me tell you about all those functions this little powerhouse does for us. Then I’ll list out some vitamin-K rich foods.
Vitamin K’s amazing functions
As I mentioned earlier, the “K” stands for the vitamin’s ability to help clot our blood. This is a critical life-saving measure to prevent blood loss from cuts and scrapes.
Vitamin K also works hand-in-hand with calcium in the blood. It helps to shuttle the calcium to our bones and teeth where we need it. This reduces our risk of fractures and cavities. Having too much calcium in our blood can lead to kidney stones and hardened arteries (atherosclerosis), so vitamin K helps to reduce our risks of those too.
It also helps with insulin. Not only is vitamin K critical for making insulin, but also to keep your cells sensitive to it. This means that vitamin K can help you better regulate your blood sugar levels.
Vitamin K has a few other functions too. It can help to regulate your sex hormones. In men, it helps to maintain good levels of testosterone. In women with PCOS, it helps to reduce certain hormones.
Finally, vitamin K can help protect against cancer by switching off cancer genes.
It’s a pretty amazing and versatile vitamin.
What to eat to get vitamin K
There are two main types of vitamin K: K1 and K2. The type depends on which foods you eat. Vitamin K1 is found in plants; while vitamin K2 is found in animal foods and fermented plants.
Vitamin K1 helps with blood clotting (remember "koagulation?"). Vitamin K1 is found mostly in cruciferous vegetables (e.g., as broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts), dark leafy greens (e.g., spinach, collard greens, parsley, and Swiss chard), as well as asparagus.
Vitamin K2 also supports blood clotting and had additional health benefits. Bone mineralization and effects on cancer genes and sex hormones are primarily from the K2 version. Vitamin K2 is found in egg yolk, cheese, butter, meat, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. Two of the best sources of vitamin K2 are natto (fermented soy) and goose liver.
Since vitamin K is one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, it’s best to eat it with a bit of fat. This helps to increase absorption from the food into your body.
If you do want to supplement, make sure you follow the label directions. Some of the cautions include the fact that Vitamin K can interact with several types of medications, so make sure to talk to your doctor before taking it.
Vitamins K1 and K2 are essential fat-soluble vitamins. They help our blood to clot, our bones to get strong, and regulate our sex hormones, just to name a few.
Vitamin K1 is found in green veggies, like cruciferous and leaves. K2 is found in egg yolks, meat, cheeses, and fermented foods.
I hope you now feel like you're in the know about this amazing (but not-so-well-known) vitamin.
The 5 Most Important Health Concerns for Women Guide
Do you feel overwhelmed by all of the health concerns and screenings you hear you should pay attention to?
Do you need a quick and simple low-down on what you should be concerned about?
I used to put off health screenings and finding out about my risk levels. In an effort to make sure you don’t behave like the old me, my guide highlights the health concerns you should be monitoring and give you risk factors for them. Get my guide to learn about your risks for:
- Breast cancer
- Heart disease
- Colon cancer
- Type-2 diabetes
- Cervical cancer