Researchers in Denmark observed in 1930s that chicks on a fat-free diet had bleeding problems. In 1939, they were able to isolate an alfalfa-based compound that stopped the bleeding. This compound helps blood clot or coagulation hence the substance was named vitamin K for Koagulation. As time progressed, scientists discovered that ‘friendly’ bacteria in the intestinal tract can create enough quantities to be able to supply the body’s needs. This function is improved with cultured milk in the diet. Another 20% of vitamin K can be acquired from foods which are specifically found in green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K is known to prevent excessive bleeding and supports strong bones. Vitamin K is available in two forms: the natural forms – K1, which is also called phylloquinone and is found in plants and Vitamin K2 also called menaquinone and can be synthesized by bacteria. The second form is vitamin K3, menadione, which is synthetic and is man made. This vitamin can be destroyed by freezing, air pollution and radiation.
Health benefits the body can derive from vitamin K include:
* It controls blood clotting and is vital in synthesizing liver protein that controls clotting.
* It is necessary in creating prothrombin which is antecedent to thrombin- an important factor in blood clotting.
* It is involve in bone formation and repair.
* It aids in converting glucose to glycogen which are then stored in the liver.
* Some indications point to the possibility that vitamin K may reduce incidence of osteoporosis and slow bone loss.
Lack of vitamin K in newborn babies led to hemorrhagic disease, also postoperative bleeding and hematuria. Muscle hematomas and inter-cranial hemorrhages are also observed. In adults, a shortage of vitamin K may result in nosebleeds and internal hemorrhaging.
Recommended dosage of K vitamin is 80 micrograms daily for males. And 70 micrograms per day for females. Vitamin K is best used with dietary fat for the absorption of this vitamin. Rancid fats, excessive refined sugar, antibiotics, high doses of vitamin E or calcium and mineral oils interfere with the vitamin’s absorption. K vitamin just like some nutrients may interact with other drugs and nutrients. Vitamin K supplements when taken on extended periods may impede with the effect of blood-thinning medications such as enoxaparin, warfarin and aspirin because of its similar blodd-thinning effect. High doses of vitamin E may affect vitamin K function and enhances the risks of bleeding.
As an added precaution, do not take vitamin K in large quantities without consulting your doctor. When you are prone to bruise easily, you might need doses of vitamin K. For pregnant or lactating women, it is best to inform your doctor before taking supplements of vitamin K. For pregnant women, taking too much vitamin K in the last stages of pregnancy could cause toxicity for the baby. Taking higher than the recommended doses of vitamin K may cause flushing and sweating. Jaundice and anemia may also develop. Good sources of vitamin K include: green leafy vegetables, cheese, liver, asparagus, coffee, bacon and green tea.