Vitamin K was once called the boring vitamin because it was believed that the sole purpose of the vitamin was to prevent blood clots and hemorrhages within the body. While this in itself is an important function, recent studies have found that this vitamin has several beneficial effects on the body.
Some of the most important functions of Vitamin K are:
- Allows natural blood clotting
- Protects bones
- Prevents loss of bone during menopause
- Prevents calcification of arteries
- Protects against a number of cancers
Vitamin K is important for the production of prothrombin, which is vital for the blood clotting process. Thus, it is useful in preventing hemorrhages and is often given to patients before a major surgery.
Vitamin K is important for the absorption of calcium, which plays an important role in protecting bones and teeth. Thus, sufficient intake of Vitamin K preserves bone density and stops or delays the onset of osteoporosis. People who have a family history of osteoporosis are advised to take in plenty of Vitamin K along with calcium. Women who are nearing the age of menopause experience natural bone loss. In such women, Vitamin K reduces the risk of future fractures significantly.
When calcium deposits build in the arteries, the tissues become hard and this affects the function of these structures. Vitamin K helps preserve the health of the heart by deterring calcification of the arteries. This in turn prevents deadly cardiovascular diseases.
According to recent research, Vitamin K is anti-carcinogenic, meaning it has the ability to fight certain kinds of cancers.
Vitamin K does not have the usual antioxidant capability that is seen in nutrients like Vitamin C. However, different forms of Vitamin K have antioxidant capabilities and destroy free radicals within the body and may also trigger an anti-inflammatory response within the body.
Vitamin K supports the structures that enclose the brain and the nerves. This is because Vitamin K is essential for the production of certain fats that protect these structures. Thus, Vitamin K has a much larger role in maintaining health and vigor than was previously believed.
Deficiency in Vitamin K could lead to problems like continuous bleeding from small wounds and cuts, increased menstrual bleeding, nose bleed, bleeding from the gums and so on. As a result, the person could also experience anemia. Thus, including foods that are rich in Vitamin K is absolutely essential for good health.
Food sources of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is available in a fairly good variety of foods.
Vegetables: It is found in vegetables like spinach, lettuce, kale, cabbage, string beans, tomatoes and cauliflower. It is also found in Brussels sprouts, alfalfa and soy beans.
Others: Whole grains like oats and wheat also contain some amount of Vitamin K. Although Vitamin K may be found in animal products, the amounts are not substantial. Cow’s milk, pig’s liver and lean meat contain traces of the vitamin. Nuts like cashew nuts, pine nuts and chestnuts also contain the vitamin.
Vitamin K is one of the important nutrients that the body needs. Although Vitamin K supplements are available in plenty, it is always advisable to take in the nutrient through natural food sources. All that you need to do is include fresh fruits, vegetables, low fat dairy and nuts in your diet.