Vitamin K is a critical fat-soluble vitamin that has two compounds within it, vitamin K1 and K2.
Typically, more foods contain vitamin K1 than K2. Eating a healthy balanced diet is the best way to ensure you are getting enough of each compound.
The health benefits of vitamin K are plentiful and spread throughout many organs in the body. Vitamin K1 contains phylloquinone, while vitamin K2 has menaquinones, mainly known as MK-4, MK-7, and MK-9. There are other MKs, but these are the most well-known.
Since vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, too much of it can build up in the body, but that is nearly impossible from food alone. A high dosage of supplements would be the only way that could happen. Make sure to keep a healthy diet to reap all the health benefits of vitamin K listed below. Many foods have ample amounts of vitamin K1, and sometimes it is helpful to supplement with vitamin K2.
Vitamin K helps in two critical areas, blood clotting to prevent bleeding and bone metabolism. When you think of healthy bones, you may just think of calcium, but there are other crucial nutrients necessary as well. These include vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2. The combination of all these nutrients is vital to maintain and grow healthy bones.
Table of Contents
- Health Benefits of Vitamin K
- Foods that Contain Vitamin K
- Potential Health Risks of Taking too Much Vitamin K
Health Benefits of Vitamin K
Discover the information below to see the many health benefits of vitamin K. Plus, learn the best dietary sources, and if there are any potential risk factors below.
1. It Can Promote Bone Strength
Vitamin K2 is a significant contributor to healthy bones, in combination with three vital nutrients, vitamin D, magnesium, and calcium. K2 manages calcium in the body.
It helps to convert vitamin D to its final form in the body, providing maximum absorption. Vitamin K2 was not always necessary for bone health as a supplement, but new research suggests it may now be vital. That is because the soil today does not provide the same nutrition as decades ago. A supplement can help many promote healthy bones (1).
Ask your doctor about your vitamin D levels, and find out if a vitamin K2 supplement along with it can help you promote healthier bones.
2. It Can Prevent Cardiovascular Disease
Vitamin K helps to keep the arteries clear and healthy by preventing arterial calcification. It plays a role in preventing blood clotting as well. Matrix Gla protein (MGP) is a vitamin K-dependent protein that helps to lower the risk of vascular disease (2).
Vitamin K2 activates MGP, which prevents calcium from building up in the arteries. Calcium is then free to perform other necessary functions in the body.
Cardiovascular disease is one of the leading causes of death in the United States, and millions of people across the globe suffer, too. Many factors go into preventing it. Those include a sufficient healthy diet, exercise, and lifestyle habits that promote healing.
3. It May Prevent Cancer
Cancer prevention is intricate and has many factors, but vitamin K can play an integral role in prevention, along with many other nutrients.
Complications can arise, as well as genetic components to keep in mind. But it is helpful to have a balance of nutrients, including many crucial vitamins and minerals to avoid cancer.
Cancer is the second leading cause of death in the world. Vitamin K can help with the inhibition of cancer cells among many different types of cancer, according to some research (3).
Make sure you are getting enough vitamin K in your diet to help prevent cancer.
4. It Can Improve Cognitive Functioning
Vitamin K is a potent nutrient for the brain as well. It can even be effective at assisting or preventing those with Alzheimer’s disease (4).
Some studies also show that it can help lower the risk of behavioral disturbances among geriatric patients with Alzheimer’s disease (5).
Feed your brain with plenty of vitamin K-rich foods along with essential B vitamins, protein, and fatty acids to further prevent cognitive loss. Are you keeping your mind protected with a healthy diet high in vitamin K?
5. It Helps Blood Clot
One of vitamin K’s main jobs is the make sure the blood vessels remain healthy. Normal blood clotting is essential to promote healing throughout the body.
Blood clotting may seem like a bad thing because too much of it can cause downstream problematic issues. But a balance is necessary to prevent bleeding, activating anti-coagulation proteins.
The medication Warfarin helps to slow down blood clotting so vitamin K can decrease the effectiveness of it. When vitamin K is low, unnecessary clotting can occur. Should the body lack a proper balance of nutrients, blood clots can occur, arterial or vein damage in the heart, brain, kidneys, and more can happen.
6. It May Improve Insulin Sensitivity
Vitamin K can even help to improve and prevent insulin sensitivity, decreasing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, especially in older men and women (6).
Over 32 million Americans have diabetes, and it is an ever-growing health problem.
Eating a healthy balanced diet high in vitamin K, magnesium, vitamin D, A, and many other nutrients can help prevent the chances of getting type 2 diabetes, even if you have a genetic predisposition. Through epigenetics, it is possible to change your gene expression with diet and lifestyle choices.
7. It Can Help with Wound Healing
Vitamin K does not only help with blood clotting to prevent bleeding; it can also help to promote faster healing when it comes to wounds.
Vitamin K is responsible for modifying proteins necessary for blood coagulation and bone metabolism. Therefore, it is a critical component in the hemostasis of wound healing.
Those who take anticoagulant or blood-thinning medication should be cautious about how much vitamin K they are getting in their daily diet. Wound healing involves many factors in combination with vitamin K consumption. These include vitamin D, magnesium, and vitamin K2.
Foods that Contain Vitamin K
Many foods are rich in vitamin K1, and there are some with K2 as well. But many can benefit from a supplement of vitamin K2 in combination with vitamin D for optimal absorption and bone health.
If you eat a diet rich in the foods listed below, have no consistent digestive issues, you are likely to get an adequate amount of vitamin K in your daily routine.
Not a lot of people are typically deficient in vitamin K because most people eat at least some foods with it. See what foods you eat more often that are high in vitamin K, or where you can start improving your diet now.
You can get your vitamin K from foods like the ones listed below:
- Leafy greens, such as turnip greens, spinach, collards, kale, broccoli
- Pine nuts
- Olive oil
- Chicken liver
- Some cheese
- Grass-fed butter (Ghee)
If you are not a strict vegetarian or vegan, you may already get an adequate amount of vitamin K1 and vitamin K2.
Natto is an excellent source of K2 for vegans and vegetarians and even meat-eaters. Eating natto helps you get all the vitamin K from both compounds into your daily diet.
Where can you add a new food rich in vitamin K to your diet? For meat, fish, beans, and more try out some of these foods today.
Many of these foods are typical staple foods for many, vegetarians, and meat-eaters alike. See where you can start adding more of these foods for improved bone metabolism, blood clotting, and much more.
Potential Health Risks of Taking too Much Vitamin K
Supplementation with vitamin K is typically safe, but if you take certain medications like blood thinners or dialysis for kidney disease, monitoring is necessary. If you eat a healthy balanced diet, you may be getting enough vitamin K.
It is not common to take too much vitamin K2 via supplement, as opposed to vitamin K1, because it is not as widely available in food. Be sure to ask your doctor or healthcare professional if you are thinking about taking a higher dose of vitamin BK. Overdose or toxicity in vitamin K is rare.
Some potential health risks for taking too much vitamin K include:
- Jaundice in newborns
- Decreased appetite
- Sedentary lifestyle
- Trouble breathing
- Pale skin
- Stiff muscles
Remember that balance is the key to optimal health when it comes to vitamins and minerals.
Do you think you are getting too much vitamin K? If you take medication, your doctor can then assist you with the correct dosage, and help you continue to prevent the risk of disease in the future.
Vitamin K is a necessary compound of nutrients that is necessary to eat as a part of your daily diet. Many foods contain vitamin K1, while less contain vitamin K2.
Some may need to supplement with vitamin K2 to help with the absorption of vitamin D for bone health. Supplementation is not always necessary, so be sure to ask your healthcare professional.
The easiest way to get enough vitamin K is to eat a healthy balanced diet at least 90 percent of the time. Instead of cutting out your favorite foods, try to eat them much less, and you can still reap the benefits of vitamin K.