The Importance of Being Holist: Vitamin K

The Importance of Being Holist: Vitamin K

Most people can tell you all about vitamin C. Most people know that the sun provides us with vitamin D. And most people even know that vitamins B and A are necessary for a healthy body and that vitamin E is great for healthy skin. We’ve got Vitamins A, B, C, D and E. What about F through I? And what is Vitamin K?

The fact is: there are no vitamins F through I – we jump straight to K. Vitamin K, a fat-soluble vitamin, is most well known because it is required by the body to help clot the blood. It was named after the German word for coagulation, which is spelled “koagulation”.

More about Vitamin K

Not only is Vitamin K required for healthy blood clotting, it’s also required for healthy bones. Those with a lower level of Vitamin K are at a much higher risk of bone fractures.  

Scientists are still working on better understanding this elusive vitamin. There have been some studies that seem to link a Vitamin K deficiency to an increased risk of heart disease. There are also studies that show a link between proper levels of Vitamin K and healthy veins and arteries. In older men, deficiencies of vitamin K have been linked to greater insulin resistance.

Vitamin K is found in both plant foods and animal sources. These include dark, leafy greens, such as spinach or kale. Green herbs, such as parsley, basil, cilantro and sage include higher levels of vitamin K. Animal foods include pastured-eggs, grass-fed cow’s milk, tuna, salmon, grass-fed beef and sardines.

One form of the vitamin (K2) is also found in ripe fermented cheeses and natto – a naturally fermented soy food. At this time, it is unknown whether other naturally fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kefir or yogurt have higher levels of K2 or how the body synthesizes it.

Please note – naturally fermented foods are not normally found for sale in the average supermarket. The sauerkraut or yogurt at the local store is probably not naturally fermented as it is made with modern methods.

It is usually recommended that adult females get 90 micrograms of Vitamin K per day. Adult males should get 120 micrograms per day. Two cups of romaine lettuce, one cup of asparagus, 3 cups of celery all have approximately 90 micrograms of K. In comparison, one cup of kale has approximately 900 micrograms, while one cup of spinach, mustard greens, collard greens or beet greens have more than 400 micrograms.  

Although a Vitamin K deficiency is rare, some symptoms include easy bruising, blood not clotting when cut, cuts not healing and even blood in the urine.

Types of Vitamin K

Vitamin K1: Is also known as phylloquinones and is found in plant foods. This goes directly to your liver and is used to clot blood.

Vitamin K2: Also known as menaquinones, this vitamin is found in animal products and also found in naturally fermented plant foods through the creation of healthy bacteria. This vitamin goes towards healthy blood vessels and bones and may help prevent heart disease and osteoporosis.

Vitamin K3: This is also known as medadione and is not naturally found in foods. In fact, it is synthetic form of the vitamin and not recommended for use.

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