Vitamin K, often called the “forgotten vitamin”, is best known for its role in blood clotting but it also has many other essential roles in keeping your body healthy. This special fat-soluble vitamin is found in three different forms. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is found naturally in green vegetables such as collard greens, spinach, kale, salad greens, Brussels sprouts, broccoli and cabbage.
Vitamin K2 (menaquinone, no relation to the skis you powder hounds!!) is made by the bacteria that line the gastrointestinal tract and also found in fermented foods such as Natto (fermented soybeans) and Kefir (fermented raw milk). The last form of Vitamin K is a synthetic form called Vitamin K3 or menadione. The most natural and safest forms of Vitamin K are K1 or K2. Here are just some of the benefits of eating your daily dose of Vitamin K.
Vitamin K is best known for its role in blood clotting. Blood clotting is essential for many things from allowing an open wound to close up to stopping and preventing nosebleeds. Signs of vitamin K deficiency related to poor blood clotting can give symptoms of heavy menstrual bleeding, easy bruising, hemorrhaging and anemia.
Vitamin K along with calcium, Vitamin D and weight bearing exercise is essential for preventing bone loss and fractures. Vitamin K ensures healthy bones two ways, by preventing bone breakdown and by helping bones rebuild. First vitamin K blocks the formation of too many osteoclasts (cells that break bones down). The release of minerals from existing bone is essential, but we do not want too much of this activity or else we end up with osteoporosis or weakening of the bones. Vitamin K also strengthens bones by activating a protein called osteocalcin. Osteoclacin in turn acts like “glue” to help hold calcium into bones. Studies have actually shown Vitamin K to be equivalent to Fosamax-type osteoporosis medications, without all the side effects!!
Prevent Arterial Plaque & Heart Disease
Research suggests Vitamin K may prevent arteriosclerosis (or hardening of the arteries) by keeping calcium out of the arterial linings. Hardening of the arteries causes the arteries to lose their normal elasticity and can lead to high blood pressure and heart failure. Optimal levels of Vitamin K have also been shown to be helpful in preventing strokes.
Studies in leading cancer journals have shown Vitamin K to be beneficial against many types of cancer including: lung, leukemia, prostate and liver cancer.
Protect Cells from Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress has been linked to many chronic conditions including arthritis, autoimmune diseases, cancer and aging. Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2, have been shown to protect cells from oxidative stress.
Improve Brain Function
Vitamin K has been shown to be essential for the synthesis of sphingolipids (a crucial fat) that helps form the myelin sheath or outer wrapping around the nerve. These crucial fats are essential for proper brain and nervous system function. Healthy brain function is essential for the prevention of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Now that you know more about the “forgotten” vitamin K and all its health benefits go get a nice big salad with a side of Natto and start feeding your brain, blood and bones!!