Never heard of vitamin K? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. It’s a little-known vitamin that isn’t as mainstream as the rest. But, it’s still a very important vitamin to have in your diet!
The “K” in vitamin K stands for “koagulation”, which is the Danish term for “coagulation”. I bet you can now guess why vitamin K is so important, right? Yes, vitamin K helps the blood clot or coagulate. Which is important when you injure yourself or during surgery or child birth.
Like vitamins A, D and E, vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It needs fatty acids in order to circulate and absorb into the body.
More Amazing Vitamin K Functions
As mentioned, vitamin K helps with blood coagulation. This is a critical life-saving mechanism to prevent too much blood loss. People with blood disorders of coagulation need to be careful they don’t hurt themselves because their bodies may not stop bleeding.
Another function of vitamin K is to help move calcium to the bones and teeth. Strong bones and teeth reduce your risk of fractures, breaks or tooth cavities. And, too much calcium causes kidney stones and hardened arteries. So, vitamin K helps move calcium out of the wrong areas and into the right ones.
Vitamin K helps improve insulin sensitivity in the cells (to reduce insulin resistance). Plus, this vitamin is critical for making insulin when we need it.
This amazing vitamin is super important for regulating sex hormones too. For women with PCOS, it helps balance hormones to reduce the incidence of symptoms.
And, finally, vitamin K actually has the ability to help switch off cancer genes. Pretty awesome, right?
Food Sources of Vitamin K
Since vitamin K really isn’t front and center when it comes to vitamins, minerals and supplements, there is a good chance you haven’t heard of it before. And, if you just read its benefits, you may be anxious to find out how to get enough vitamin K in your diet.
First, a little science.
Vitamin K comes in two forms (like vitamin D): K1 and K2.
Vitamin K1 is found in plant sources while K2 is found in animal products and fermented plant foods.
Foods with vitamin K1 support coagulation. These foods are cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, kale, cabbage), dark green leafy vegetables, and asparagus.
Foods with vitamin K2 support blood clotting, bone mineralization, hormone regulation and cancer gene effects. These foods are egg yolks, cheese, butter, meat, and fermented foods like sauerkraut. In fact, the two best sources of vitamin K2 are natto (fermented soy) and goose liver (yuck)!
Always eat vitamin K-rich foods with a bit of healthy fat, since it’s a fat-soluble vitamin. This will increase its absorption and improve its usage throughout your body.
Vitamin K Supplements
Supplements are available; however, vitamin K is one of the vitamins that are best achieved through food. If you do supplement, always read and follow the labels and ask your health care professional before starting it. Vitamin K can interact with certain medications.
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. Plus, don’t forget its effects on cancer genes!
Vitamin K1 is found in green vegetables and K2 is found in egg yolks, meat, cheeses, and fermented foods.