Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so your body stores it in fat tissue and the liver. It is best known for its role in helping blood clot, or coagulate, properly. The "K" comes from its German name, Koagulationsvitamin. Vitamin K also plays an important role in bone health.
It is rare to have a vitamin K deficiency. That' s because in addition to being found in leafy green foods, the bacteria in your intestines can make vitamin K. Sometimes taking antibiotics can kill the bacteria and lead to a mild deficiency, mostly in people with low levels to begin with. Vitamin K deficiency can lead to excessive bleeding, which may begin as oozing from the gums or nose. Other things that may lead to vitamin K deficiency include:
•Health problems that can prevent your body from absorbing vitamin K, such as gallbladder or biliary disease, cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and Crohn's disease
•Taking blood-thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin)
Other conditions that benefit from vitamin K include:
Even though vitamin K deficiency in newborns is very rare, it is dangerous enough that doctors give the injections. Newborns at greatest risk for vitamin K deficiency are premature or those whose mother had to take seizure medications during pregnancy. Mothers on seizure medications are often given oral vitamin K for 2 weeks before delivery.
Your body needs vitamin K to use calcium to build bone. People who have higher levels of vitamin K have greater bone density, while low levels of vitamin K have been found in those with osteoporosis.
There is increasing evidence that vitamin K improves bone health and reduces risk of bone fractures, particularly in postmenopausal women who are at risk for osteoporosis. In addition, studies of male and female athletes have also found that vitamin K helps with bone health. However, some studies have found that vitamin K didn' t help with bone density.
Foods that contain a significant amount of vitamin K include beef liver, green tea, turnip greens, broccoli, kale, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, and dark green lettuce. Chlorophyll is the substance in plants that gives them their green color and provides vitamin K.
Freezing foods may destroy vitamin K, but heating does not affect it.
There are 3 forms of vitamin K:
•Vitamin K1 or phylloquinone, the natural version of K1 and phytonadione, the synthetic type of K1
•Vitamin K2 or menaquinone
•Vitamin K3 or menaphthone or menadione
Vitamin K1 is the only form available in the U.S. as a supplement. It is available as part of multivitamin complexes or alone, in 5 mg tablets.
Water-soluble chlorophyll is the most common form of vitamin K found over the counter. It is available in tablet, capsule, and liquid forms.
How to Take It:
The daily Adequate Intake for vitamin K is:
A single injection of vitamin K is also given at birth.
•Men 19 years and older: 120 mcg
•Women 19 years and older: 90 mcg
•Pregnant and breastfeeding women 14 - 18 years: 75 mcg
•Pregnant and breastfeeding women 19 years and older: 90 mcg
Because of the potential for side effects and interactions with medications, you should take dietary supplements only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider.
At recommended doses, vitamin K has few side effects.
Vitamin K crosses the placenta and is also found in breast milk. Pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding should talk to their doctor before taking vitamin K supplements.
People with a rare metabolic condition called Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency should avoid vitamin K.
People who take warfarin (Coumadin) should not take vitamin K