Vitamin K is an essential nutrient required in our body. This was discovered in 1935 by a Danish scientist Henrik Dam. The ‘K’ in vitamin K comes from the German word ‘koagulation’. Coagulation means clotting. Hence, it is commonly known as clotting vitamin or coagulate vitamin. Without this vitamin, our blood cannot clot.
Vitamin K is available in 3 forms:
- Vitamin K1: Its scientific name is Phylloquinone or phytonadione. It is found in green leafy vegetables such as lettuce, cabbage, collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, kale, etc.
- Vitamin K2: Its scientific name is menaquinone. It is of 2 forms. MK4 and MK7. MK4 is found in animal products and MK7 comes from the bacteria present in the intestine and this is also present in fermented foods. But if one takes antibiotics, it will reduce the absorption of vitamin k in the body and sometimes it may kill the bacteria present in the intestine.
- Vitamin K3: Its scientific name is menadione.
Functions of vitamin K:
Vitamin K is an essential fat soluble vitamin in the body. It is stored in the liver and adipose tissue of the body.
- Blood clotting: Vitamin K is also called as clotting vitamin. The name itself signifies the function of the vitamin. The body gets sufficient amount of vitamin K to function properly. It helps in healing the wound and also prevents excessive bleeding.
- Bone health: It is one of the important fat soluble vitamins that supports the bone health. People who have vitamin K deficiency, have a greater risk of bone fractures. It is better to take adequate amount of vitamin K in our daily diet. This prevents from bone fractures.
- Prevents calcification of blood vessels: In cardiovascular diseases, the calcium accumulates in arteries and makes them harder. In order to prevent this calcium deposits, matrix Gla protein (MGP) is required. For that, MGP should be present in carboxylate form. Here vitamin K helps it in carboxylation process.
- Vitamin K deficiencies are rare in adults. But they are common in newborn infants.
Food sources of vitamin K:
Vitamin K does not affect with high temperatures and acids. This is available in both plant and animal sources:
- Plant sources: Kale, spinach, Swiss chard, turnip greens, soybean, parsley, cabbage, lettuce, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, wheat germ, wheat bran and oats. It is also available in vegetables oils such as soybean oil and olive oil.
- Animal sources: Milk, eggs, fish, meat, cheese, chicken, etc.