Why do you need vitamin K? Know 7 vital reasons


Just like other essential nutrients, vitamin K also deserves to be a part of your daily diet. Here are 7 health benefits of vitamin K and who should avoid it.

A healthy body needs multiple nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Vitamin K is one such micronutrient that plays a crucial role in improving bone health by helping in the bodyโ€™s process of bone mineralisation, making bones stronger and more resilient. Additionally, vitamin K is indispensable for the blood clotting process, ensuring that the body can effectively stop bleeding after injuries. Beyond these health benefits of vitamin K, it also contributes to cardiovascular health, and helps to prevent calcification of arteries and other heart tissues, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease and promoting overall cardiovascular health.

What is vitamin K?

Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin that comes primarily in two formsโ€“K1 (phylloquinone), found in green leafy vegetables, and K2 (menaquinones), which is made by gut bacteria and also found in fermented foods and animal products, is crucial for optimal health. It is essential for blood clotting, supporting bone health, heart health, and more.

7 health benefits of vitamin K

Here are 7 reasons why you need vitamin K:

1. Strengthens bones

Vitamin K plays a critical role in bone health. According to a study published by Oregon State University vitamin K helps activate osteocalcin, a protein produced by osteoblasts (bone-forming cells). Osteocalcin helps bind calcium, the essential element needed for bone mineralization. By promoting this process, vitamin K not only strengthens the bone structure but also aids in the development of new bone tissue, improves bone density, and decreases the risk of fractures.

Vitamin K can help improve your bone health. Image courtesy: Freepik

2. Reduces the risk of osteoporosis

Osteoporosis is a condition characterised by a decrease in bone mass and density, leading to an increased risk of fractures or broken bones. Dietitian and Nutritionist Divya Gopal says, โ€œVitamin K contributes to reducing this risk by enhancing the amount of osteocalcin and regulating calcium levels in bones, which may improve bone density and overall bone quality.โ€ Women who are in their menopause or postmenopausal phase must keep track of their vitamin K intake to prevent the risk of bone loss.

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3. Good for heart health

In a study published in the Journal of Open Heart, vitamin K serves an important role in improving your heart health through the regulation of calcium homeostasis. It activates a protein called Matrix GLA protein (MGP), which inhibits calcium from depositing in the vessel walls, thereby preventing the hardening of the arteries (arteriosclerosis). By keeping the arteries flexible, vitamin K supports proper blood flow and reduces the strain on the heart, ultimately decreasing the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular diseases.

Also read: Vitamin K2 is a boon for bone and heart health! Know all its benefits

4. Supports cognitive health

While there are not many studies that may support the fact that vitamin K may support brain function, a recent review collected studies published by Frontiers in Neurology suggests the involvement of vitamin K deficiency in the onset of cognitive impairment. Gopal explains, โ€œVitamin K has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that may help protect the brain from oxidative stress and inflammation, factors linked to Alzheimerโ€™s disease and other forms of dementia.

5. Helps with blood clotting

Blood clotting is a process that helps prevent excessive bleeding when blood vessels are injured. According to Harvard T.H. Chan vitamin K makes various proteins, such as prothrombin, that are needed for blood clotting or wound healing and to stop bleeding when injuries occur. Without adequate vitamin K, the body cannot produce prothrombin effectively, leading to an increased risk of bruising and bleeding disorders.

Graphic representation of a blood clot
Blood clotting is a process that helps heal wounds quickly. Image Courtesy: Freepik

6. Improves skin health

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that is often found in topical creams for its role in reducing bruising, dark circles, and skin redness. According to Gopal, โ€œVitamin K is effective in reducing the appearance of dark circles under the eyes, minimising the scars after wound healing, and enhancing skin elasticity, which is essential for maintaining skin firmness.

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7. Regulates blood sugar levels

Vitamin K may influence glucose metabolism, making it potentially beneficial for blood sugar control. A study published by Nutrients suggests vitamin K is thought to improve insulin sensitivity, which means the body can use insulin more effectively to lower blood sugar levels. This is especially beneficial for people who are at risk of or managing type 2 diabetes.

Side effects of vitamin K deficiency

What if your body doesnโ€™t have enough vitamin K? While vitamin K deficiency is rare, it can lead to several significant health issues, primarily affecting blood clotting and bone health. It may also increase the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Here are a few symptoms of vitamin K you may notice:

  • Easy bruising
  • Excessive bleeding from wounds
  • Bleeding gums
  • Dark black stool with blood
  • Heavy menstrual periods

Also read: Can vitamin K deficiency affect your period flow?

โ€œInfants are particularly at risk for vitamin K deficiency, which can lead to a potentially fatal condition known as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn,โ€ says Gopal. Hence, ensuring an adequate intake of vitamin K through diet or supplements is crucial to preventing these complications and maintaining overall health.

Foods rich in vitamin K

Here are some best foods that can provide an adequate amount of vitamin K naturally:

  • Leafy green vegetables like kale, spinach, and lettuce
  • Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower
  • Soybean
  • Blueberries
  • Eggs
  • Kiwi
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish
  • Egg yolk
  • Chicken
how to use spinach
Spinach is packed with vitamin K nutrients. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

Who should avoid vitamin K?

People taking anticoagulants like Warfarin should carefully manage their vitamin K intake, as it can interfere with the medicationโ€™s effectiveness. Additionally, those with conditions that affect fat absorption might need to avoid high doses of vitamin K due to potential complications. Apart from this, people with a rare metabolic condition and people who are receiving dialysis for kidney diseases should not take vitamin K without a doctorโ€™s permission.

How much vitamin K is safe per day?

Adults should aim for 90โ€“120 micrograms of vitamin K per day. Women generally need about 90 micrograms, while men should target 120 micrograms.

Takeaway

While vitamin K may not be talked about as much as other nutrients, it is important for our overall health. From ensuring proper blood clotting to maintaining strong bones, vitamin K plays an essential role in promoting health and vitality. So, make sure your diet is packed with vitamin K nutrients!



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