Vitamin K is a fat soluble Vitamin required by the body to synthesize certain types of proteins that are required in blood clotting. Vitamin K is also known as phylloquinone, phytomenadione, or phytonadione and is typically found in green leafy vegetables, as it plays an important role in photosynthesis.
Vitamin K is a group of compounds consisting of Vitamin K1 & Vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is found in leafy vegetables and fruits whereas Vitamin K2 is found in meats, cheeses and is synthesized by bacteria.
Vitamin K1 is also known as Phylloquinone and Menaquinone is the name for Vitamin K2.
Origin of Vitamin K
A Danish scientist while investigating the role of cholesterol in discovered Vitamin K. In his experiment, chicken were fed a cholesterol depleting diet. After some weeks, the animals developed hemorrhages and started bleeding. The scientist tried feeding cholesterol to the chickens but bleeding couldn’t be stopped. It was also observed that a compound obtained from plants when added with cholesterol was able to stop the bleeding and was named as coagulation vitamin.
The letter K was devised as the studies were published in a German journal and the Vitamin was called as Koagulationsvitamin.
Vitamin K & Humans
Low levels of Vitamin K are rare in adults but deficiency can lead to the risk of uncontrolled bleeding. Low levels of Vitamin K are common in infants so they are injected in the due course.
People suffering from liver damage or liver disease as well as Bowel Syndrome, or those who underwent some sort of abdominal surgery might have lower levels of Vitamin K.
Deficiency of Vitamin K1 can lead to a bleeding disorder known as coagulopathy. Deficiency of Vitamin K1 can lead to anemia, bruising and bleeding of gums and heavy menstrual flow in women.
Lower levels of Vitamin K2 can lead to osteoporosis and coronary heart diseases.
Dosage of Vitamin K
According to the US Dietary Reference Intake, 120 micrograms of Vitamin K1, per day is sufficient for a 25-year-old male. Females should consume 90 micrograms per day and the dosage for infants is 10-20 micrograms per day. Children and adolescents can consume anything between 15-100 micrograms per day.
The dosage might go up to 1000 micrograms per day in certain cases and there is no upper limit set.
Sources of Vitamin K
The main sources of Vitamin K1 are green leafy vegetables including cabbage, spinach, kale, asparagus, and broccoli. Vitamin K2 sources include meat items like pork, bacon, hams, chicken as well as cheese items.
Vitamin K1 is also available in supplement form and constitutes an integral part of multi vitamin capsules. It is sold separately also.
Benefits of Vitamin K
Consumption of Vitamin K has been directly related to longevity. Sufficient dosages help humans to live longer. Research has shown that Vitamin K is capable of assisting with symptoms of diabetes, atherosclerosis, osteoporosis and cancer because of its capability to activate proteins associated with these conditions.
In one study, groups of people with the highest intake of vitamin K2 were 57% less likely to die of coronary heart disease as compared to those with the lowest intake.
In another study, women with the highest intake of vitamin K2 were found to be at a 20% lower risk for coronary artery calcification compared with women with the lowest intake levels, while the same study found that vitamin K1 had no significant impact.
Vitamin K has a direct and significant impact of people suffering with Diabetes Type II. Groups of people suffering from the disease were kept under observation and were given dosages of Vitamin K. It was observed that a higher intake of Vitamin K1 was associated with higher insulin sensitivity and lower post meal glucose levels.
Another study showed that both of the Vitamins (Vitamin K1 & K2) were helpful in reducing the chances of getting diabetes but K2 had the greater impact. 10-microgram dosage of Vitamin K2 reduced the chances of Type II diabetes by 7%
Side Effects of Vitamin K
There are no such side effects of Vitamin K. People running high on antibiotics might have lower levels of Vitamin K and hence are advised to consume Vitamin K supplements.
Vitamin K activity is directly related with the consumption of blood thinning agents or drugs. A person consuming blood thinning medication should lower the foods that are rich in Vitamin K as Vitamin K tends to interfere with the blood thinning agents.