Vitamin K benefits: What you need to know

Vitamins

Vitamin K injections are often prescribed to newborn babies to prevent brain hemorrhages because they promote blood clotting.

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What are the benefits of Vitamin K?

Most people have never heard of vitamin K. However, vitamin K is an essential vitamin that supports multiple processes in your body. From your cardiovascular system to your bone health, vitamin K is an important player in many metabolic processes that support the health of your body.

Vitamin K is often overlooked because the benefits of vitamin C or minerals like zinc are so often lauded as vital tools for overall health and wellbeing. While this might be true, most people don’t realize the nutritional benefits of vitamin K are of extreme importance to maintaining your existing health and warding off many common conditions in the future.

The role of vitamin K in a healthy body 

Essential for blood clotting

One of the most well-established benefits of vitamin K in the body is its essential role in enabling your blood to clot. While blood clots often have negative connotations, your blood must be able to clot itself properly. It’s this clotting that enables your body to heal itself when cut or injured, and without it, you could bleed uncontrollably even from small injuries.

Vitamin K achieves this blood clotting by helping the body to produce certain types of proteins. The proteins work together with platelets in your blood at the site of an injury to congeal and allow the skin cells to begin regenerating over the wound.

According to the National Institutes of Health, vitamin K injections are commonly prescribed to newborn babies who are at risk of fatal brain hemorrhaging since they can’t yet clot their blood correctly. It’s also frequently used to treat people who suffer from overdoses of medication that thins the blood.

Improves bone health

One of the most studied and researched benefits of vitamin K is its role in supporting healthy bones. Most people don’t realize that to get more fit and toned muscle tissue, not only do the muscles need to get stronger, but bone density has to increase as well. 

In one study referenced in a review published by the National Institutes of Health, prescribing vitamin K to postmenopausal women with osteopenia reduced the incidents of bone fractures by more than 50% in the group. Another study in the same review showed that regular vitamin K intake vastly reduced incidents of hip, vertebral and nonvertebral fractures closely associated with osteoporosis.  

May improve cardiovascular health

Much research has been conducted to show a correlation between vitamin K intake and the role it plays in improving heart health. Studies indicate that vitamin K may play an important role in regulating blood pressure and, therefore, preventing heart disease. The key process involving vitamin K that provides this benefit is the production of matrix Gla-protein, a protein that prevents mineralization (or calcification) in blood vessels.

Sources of vitamin K 

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. This means that for it to be absorbed in the gut, certain conditions need to be met. The presence of oil aids vitamin K absorption into the blood. 

The best way to get vitamin K into your diet is by eating foods that contain vitamin K. Foods like green leafy vegetables are a great place to start. This includes spinach, cauliflower, broccoli and cabbage. The good news is it’s also available in green herbs like parsley and basil. Fermented dairy, like cheese and yogurt, and protein sources like chicken and fish have a lot of vitamin K, too.

You can also take vitamin K as a supplement. Learn more about the best vitamin K supplements to buy in the full guide from Best Reviews.

Vitamin K1 

Vitamin K1 is often found in green leafy vegetables. This form of vitamin K has a vital role to play in blood clotting. Blood clotting is essential to overall health and well-being. It aids in the body’s ability to clot blood and recover after a cut or abrasion. What’s more, it aids the body’s ability to recover more generally after strenuous exercise sessions.

Vitamin K1 also has other health benefits. This includes bone health and healthy cardiac function. Some research has even suggested that vitamin K1 plays a vital role in maintaining memory. Foods rich in vitamin K1 include kale, collard beans, spinach and broccoli. 

Vitamin K2 

Vitamin K2 is produced in the gut by healthy bacteria. This particular form of vitamin plays a pivotal role in supporting the body’s ability to create healthy skin and bones. Vitamin K2 aids the body’s use of calcium while inhibiting blood vessel calcification. K2 is mainly found in fermented foods. This includes fermented soybeans, sauerkraut, dairy and liver.  

Risks of not getting enough vitamin K 

Not getting enough vitamin K can be detrimental to your overall health and well-being, especially in the long term. A lack of vitamin K may contribute to bleeding disorders, affecting both the heart and circulatory system. A deficiency in vitamin K can also be caused by intestinal absorption of food. This means that conditions like Crohn’s disease can cause you to lack vitamin K in your body. Antibiotics can also cause deficiencies in the gut that cause people to have low vitamin K levels. Natural food sources are the best way to get vitamin K. Supplements can be used too, but a healthy diet is optimal. 

What you need to buy for vitamin K benefits

Life Extension Super K

Life Extension Super K

This supplement provides a strong dose of both vitamin K1 and two different forms of vitamin K2 for a broad range of benefits. Take the gel tablets once per day to support heart and bone health.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

Doctor's Best Natural Vitamin K2

Doctor’s Best Natural Vitamin K2

If bone health and density is your primary concern when it comes to vitamin K intake, this supplement uses fermented chickpeas to provide plenty of vitamin K2 to support calcium absorption. 

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon and iHerb

HoneyComb’s Liquid Vitamin K1

HoneyComb’s Liquid Vitamin K1

If taking pills and tablets isn’t your thing, this vitamin K1 supplement comes in the form of drops so it’s easy to take. You can also apply it directly to your skin as a beauty treatment.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

 

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Lauren Farrell writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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