Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is an essential need for the human body since it involves in many bodily processes. To bind with the calcium, the proteins in the body need Vitamin K. If there is no Vitamin K in the body, the blood coagulation is not possible, and uncontrolled bleeding occurs. It is also needed for good bone health.
Vitamin K and its types
Vitamin K involves in the photosynthesis of plants. There is an indication to show that people deficient in Vitamin K may have osteoporosis. Another side effect could be the calcification of the soft tissues and the bones. We have two members of the Vitamin K family. They are Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 has several chemical subtypes with carbon side chains made of different lengths.
Action between Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2
Vitamin K1 is known as phylloquinone. Leafy vegetables have this highest and one can see it as the plant form of Vitamin K. It plays an active role in the animals including the production of blood clotting proteins. Some of the Vitamin K1 undergoes conversion to Vitamin K2. You also have a third form of Vitamin K known as menadione (Vitamin K3). The most commonly available OTC supplement is water-soluble chlorophyll in capsule, liquid and tablet form.
In the human body, the gut flora converts Vitamin K1 to Vitamin K2 (menaquinone). You have many forms of Vitamin K2 produced by the gut flora such as the MK 7 to MK11 homologues. The gut flora can produce most of the forms of the vitamin except for MK4. So, it is rare to find people deficient in Vitamin K. Those who have low levels of this vitamin might experience some deficiency when they have antibiotics that kill the bacteria that produces this vitamin.
Deficiency of Vitamin K
Vitamin K deficiency results in excessive bleeding. You can see blood oozing from the nose or the gums. This deficiency may occur due to one or more of the following reasons:
- Liver disease
- Long-term haemodialysis
- Gall bladder disease
- Taking blood thinners
- Serious burns
You have a higher risk of the deficiency if you have one or more of the following symptoms:
- Drink alcohol heavily.
- Have severe malnourishment.
- Are affected by Crohn’s diseases or active celiac disease.
- Take drugs that interfere with Vitamin K absorption.
Crohn’s disease and celiac disease affect the absorption of the Vitamin K in the guts.
Benefits & Uses of vitamin K supplement
This is good for bone health, cognitive health, heart health, prevent osteoporosis and helps prevent cancer. You can take Vitamin K for morning sickness. People use it to remove spider vein, whereas some people claim that it is effective in fighting cancer. However, these cures are unfounded and have no medical proof.
- Bone health.
- Cognitive health.
- Heart health.
- Prevent osteoporosis.
- Helps prevent cancer.
Dangers of dearth of Vitamin K
The two major risks of Vitamin K deficiency are excessive bleeding and osteoporosis. When a person suffers from conditions that lead to deficiency, you must take Vitamin K supplements. It is also given to people who take antibiotics for a long time. In most of the western countries, the new-borns are given Vitamin K injection since babies are born without bacteria. Mothers who take seizure medication during pregnancy are also given Vitamin K orally for two weeks before delivery. The other risk is osteoporosis. Vitamin K improves bone health and reduces the risk of bone fractures. Menopausal women are at a higher risk for osteoporosis.
Sources of the vitamin K and needed amounts
We get Vitamin K from our food. This includes both vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. If you freeze food items, it might destroy the Vitamin K. But, you can heat the food as it will not affect the vitamin content. Food sources that include this vitamin are these:
The Chlorophyll in the plants gives them the dark green colour. This provides the Vitamin K. Most of the people get enough Vitamin K from their diet. The recommended amounts in micrograms for each day is as follows:
0-6 months 2mg
7-12 months 2.5mg
1-3 years 30mg
4-8 years 55mg
Women above 19 90mg
14-18 years 75mg
Men above 19 120mg
Other forms of Vitamin K
Research is going on about matrix Gla-protein for its role in the abnormal calcification process. It is present in the smooth muscles, cartilage, and bone. They want to reduce this calcification as it is detrimental to good health. The matrix Gla-protein is a Vitamin K dependent protein. The second area of research is regarding osteocalcin, which is also a Vitamin K dependent protein. This is present in the bone and may have some significance in the mineralization or turnover of the bone.
Metabolism of the vitamin
The metabolic path of the Vitamin K is as follows. It is present in the bone, pancreas, heart, liver, brain, and other body tissues. Like most other fat-soluble vitamins and dietary lipids, Vitamin K is incorporated into mixed micelles. This happens due to the action of the bile and pancreatic enzymes. It is then absorbed in the small intestines by the enterocytes.
Then, the vitamin K gets incorporated into chylomicrons. After this, it is secreted through the lymphatic capillaries. Now it goes to the liver and gets repackaged into low-density lipoproteins. And, in this form, the Vitamin K moves around the body. However, compared to the other fat-soluble vitamins, the amount of Vitamin K is very little in the blood.
Reasons for the low level
This low level is because 20% is excreted in the urine, 40-50% is sent out in the form of bile with the faeces, and only 30-40% of the intake is retained in the blood and tissues. Regarding the Vitamin K produced by the gut bacteria, there is no evidence. A great amount of the vitamin is found in the large bowel. One does not know for sure about the quantity of the vitamin the body absorbs and the action after that. But, it is assumed that the body gets some of the vitamins from here.
Always consult your physician before you take or give the Vitamin K supplement. Usually, the supplement is given in the form of a multivitamin tablet that has Vitamin K instead of giving it separately. People who take Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase should avoid the vitamin supplement. You should avoid it if you are taking other medications such as blood thinners or antibiotics.