Vitamin of the Month – Vitamin K

Upon request, Vitamin of the Month is back! Check out previous vitamin of the month posts to see more information on Vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. In keeping with the theme of fat-soluble vitamins, January is the month for Vitamin K!

What is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K (along with vitamins A, D, and E) is the last of the fat-soluble vitamins. This means that dietary fat is necessary for the absorption of vitamin K into the body. Excess fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver and adipose (fat) tissue from which the body can retrieve the vitamins later as needed.

What are the health benefits of Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is important for healthy blood clotting and protecting your bones from fractures and postmenopausal bone loss. Many cardiovascular problems are related to the hardening of arteries causing them to become blocked. This in turn impairs blood flow to major organs like the heart and brain causing further medical problems. Vitamin K prevents this hardening or calcification (build up of calcium deposits) within the arteries and therefore limits blockage that may occur. Vitamin K also provides protection against liver and prostate cancer.

lettuce2(Source)

What is the daily recommended amount of Vitamin K?

People who are deficient in vitamin K suffer from excessive bleeding such as heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding of the gums, digestive tract bleeding, and easy bruising or nose bleed problems. If you are on anticoagulant medications (such as Coumadin) you should discuss vitamin K with your doctor as vitamin K works to clot blood while these medications try to prevent clotting. Other deficiency-related problems include bone loss (osteoporosis) and age-related bone fractures. On the other end of the spectrum there has been no research regarding vitamin K toxicity.

What foods contain Vitamin K?

Foods that contain vitamin K include dark leafy greens such as spinach, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, asparagus, broccoli, kale, and mustard greens. Cauliflower, green tea, liver beef, and a variety of lettuces are also good sources of vitamin K. Be sure to pick darker lettuces (such as spring mixes that include spinach, arugula, and endive) as they will contain more vitamin K than lettuce with less pigment (such as iceberg) Cooking, freezing, or storing such foods will not effect the amount of vitamin K in any of these foods. It is recommended that men consume 120 micrograms/day and women consume 90 micrograms/day.

swisschard

Eating only 1/2 – 1 cup of any of these vegetables is enough to meet your your daily needs! So what are you waiting for? Make vitamin K part of your January diet!

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