There's a vitamin that gets very little appreciation. In fact, most people don't even think about it in their day-to-day lives, even though its importance is undeniable. That vitamin is Vitamin K- and its numerous benefits to your body are often underrated.
In this blog post, we hope to shed light on all that this vitamin does in your body, and why you need to do your best to ensure that your blood levels are within normal ranges to avoid deficiency from developing.
What Is Vitamin K Anyway?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, along with other vitamins such as vitamins A, D, and E. It is synthesized by bacteria in the gut and can be found in two forms- K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). The differences between these two forms are in their structures, but they both have largely similar functions within the body.
While K1 and K2 can be obtained from the diet, the K2 form can also be made from the probiotic bacteria in our bodies.
The most attention vitamin K gets, honestly, is being monitored in patients under active hospitalization who are using blood thinners or other anti-coagulants. Other than that, most people don't give it the time of day.
So what makes it so important in the body? Let's explore some of its many benefits.
Benefits of Vitamin K
Maintenance Of Prostate Health
We start this list off with a "potential" benefit since it needs more studies to be confirmed- but the ones done to date are extremely promising, and perhaps have mind-blowing implications.
As men age, quite a large percentage become victims of BPH; Benign prostatic hyperplasia, otherwise known as an enlarged prostate gland.
Far too many people treat this condition casually, as it has the real potential to cause a lot of discomfort and interrupt their daily lives, leading to cancer in worst-case scenarios.
The preliminary research conducted thus far points in the direction of Vitamin K being able to restore blood flow to calcified vessels which supply blood to the prostate, usually as a result of a varicocele (a varicose vein in the scrotum).
The research has shown that it may be able to restore the normal size of the prostate, by regulating blood flow and decreasing testosterone accumulation that occurs as a result of the varicocele (not a good thing for the prostate).
This is great news, and why it is EXTREMELY important to get more vitamin K in your diet.
Make it easy- take a scoop of Field Of Greens daily, since Vit K1 is found in a multitude of fruits and veggies.
Vitamin K helps to regulate sebum production (which is a great thing!) and has been shown to reduce the amount of oiliness on the skin.
It's also known for its ability to reduce wrinkles and lighten dark circles under the eyes since it has strong antioxidant properties that help keep your skin looking youthful. Plus, it helps to reduce inflammation and redness, making it very useful for dealing with some chronic auto-immune disorders like psoriasis which can cause dry, red patches on the skin.
Finally, research has also shown that Vitamin K can help to increase collagen production in the body, which is essential for maintaining a youthful appearance and healthy skin.
We also recommend you supplement with a high-quality collagen protein supplement such as Radiance to really keep your skin in pristine health!
The impact Vitamin K has on cardiovascular health also has the potential to be life-changing, but far too few people know about this!
How does it help? To start, it has been found to reduce the risk of calcification in arteries, which as you can imagine is a very good thing. Calcification, combined with the deposition of fatty atherosclerotic plaque formation is the genesis of so many cardiovascular issues, including hypertension, coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and strokes.
It may even be able to reverse this vascular calcification- meaning that it can, in effect, function as a blood vessel cleaner. How awesome is that?
Vitamin K also activates proteins that are beneficial to cardiovascular health, including the matrix Gla protein (MGP), which helps prevent calcium build-up in vessels. MGP has demonstrated its real potential in maintaining cardiovascular health, as a deficiency is associated with a high mortality rate, oftentimes, shortly after birth.
It also works as a co-factor for clotting factors in the body, making it easier for wounds to heal and reducing overall inflammation in the body. And lastly, it helps to regulate blood pressure by managing the constriction of vessels- meaning that your heart doesn't have to work as hard to push blood throughout your body.
Know how everyone also preaches calcium for bone health? Turns out there are many other nutrients that are needed, sometimes even more so than calcium. Vitamin K is one of them.
Vitamin K and D help to enhance calcium absorption which, in turn, strengthens bones. This is especially true for people who are at an increased risk for fractures and osteoporosis- a condition where the bones become porous and brittle due to calcium loss.
Vitamin K also activates proteins responsible for bone formation, including osteocalcin and matrix Gla protein (MGP). These two proteins work together to regulate bone mineralization, building strong bones that can withstand the test of time.
So if you're looking for a simple way to keep your bones healthy and strong, look no further than Vitamin K, but be sure to not neglect Vitamin D and magnesium too!
Mental and Neurological Health
Vitamin K is known to improve mental clarity, focus, and concentration. It also helps to protect your brain from free radical damage, reducing the risk of cognitive decline.
Plus, it even has antidepressant properties- Vitamin K can reduce stress levels, helping you maintain positive thoughts and feelings throughout the day.
It's also been found to be beneficial for treating neurological disorders like Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's since it helps protect against neuron degeneration.
If you're in school or trying to learn a new skill, it can also help. From improved learning and retention to the ability to recall information quicker and easier, Vitamin K has been proven to be of great benefit.
That also explains why many cognition-boosting nootropics tend to include supply amounts of Vitamin K in their formulations since it exerts a synergistic action with other proven brain-friendly ingredients.
May Reduce Cancer Risk
There is no way you can absolutely eliminate your risk of developing cancer. There are just too many unknowns that are beyond our control, but that's not to say that you shouldn't do your best to control the factors that are modifiable.
As we briefly mentioned above, Vit K can in effect, help to lower the risk of prostate cancer development, from its actions on controlling/ reversing benign prostatic hyperplasia.
But turns out, it may be able to reduce the risk of several different forms of cancer as well, including stomach, liver, and colorectal cancer.
It does this by controlling the growth of certain cells, known as tumor-promoting cells. By stopping these cells from dividing and replicating, it may be able to reduce your risk of developing several different types of cancer.
Plus, it may help reduce the recurrence of cancers that have happened before and extend survival rates beyond what might be achieved without meeting a sufficient dietary intake of this vitamin.
Don't take this as a guarantee, however, as many more confirmatory studies would need to be done before a concrete conclusion can be made.
That being said, Vitamin K still has its place in a healthy diet, and it is certainly worth looking into if you are looking to reduce your risk of cancer or any other chronic health conditions.
Sources of Vitamin K
In a perfect world, it would be great to ensure that we meet all our nutritional requirements just from the food we eat. But the reality is very different. Even though we have access to more things than at any point in our history, the quality of food per see has gone down.
That being said, it is still advisable and preferable to get your Vit K from foods, which are primarily from plant-based sources.
Good sources of Vit K1 include:
- Leafy green vegetables such as spinach, kale, and collard greens
- Brussels sprouts
It is important to note that Vit K2 has far more limited sources. It is primarily found in animal products such as egg yolks, butter, and liver (which are typically frowned upon by the medical establishment, and hence, should be consumed in moderation).
Of note, also, is the fact that the body is capable of converting a small amount of Vit K1 to Vit K2, as long as the health of probiotic flora is in check.
In addition, Vit K2 can also be found in certain fermented foods such as natto and cheese curd (which are typically not available in the average grocery store).
If you're unable to meet your dietary requirements for Vitamin K, then supplements are an option. They come in a variety of forms- pills, capsules, liquids, and even injections (although these are usually administered by a medical professional).
You can obtain it in supplemental form from virtually any pharmacy as an OTC item, so you shouldn't have any trouble finding it.
However, be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist first if you are on medications, as Vit K can interfere with the actions of certain drugs (e.g., anticoagulants).
How Much Vitamin K Do You Need?
The recommended intake of Vit K for an adult stands at about 90 mcg for women, and 120 mcg for men.
However, it should also be noted that certain groups may have higher requirements than this- such as pregnant and lactating women, and people on certain medications.
Also, keep in mind that different forms of Vit K will require different amounts to meet the same requirement. For instance, you would need 9 mcg of Vitamin K1 to meet the same requirement as 1 mcg of Vitamin K2 (as this is the approximate conversion ratio, but it does not follow a linear pattern).
Plus, the dietary absorption of Vit K is relatively poor, so if you are supplementing, you may want to consider taking a higher dose than the recommended amount for optimal effect.
Vitamin K may be considered a micronutrient, but its importance places it on a grand scale in terms of importance. Could this be the vitamin that really changes your health for the better? It might be.
However, regardless of how promising it may be, more research needs to be conducted to positively ascertain the health benefits of this vitamin.
With that being said, it certainly won't hurt to supplement with it, especially since there is little evidence to suggest that it has deleterious effects when used in the amount found in a typical supplement.