All the Benefits from Vitamin K and the Best Sources

(Last Updated On: August 3, 2018)

Vitamin K is a relatively unknown vitamin in the health world today. It does carry some tremendous health benefits. It also may be found in a large group of foods so it wouldn’t be too hard to incorporate into the diet. There are five vitamins in the K group which consist of two naturally produced vitamins which are vitamin K and vitamin K1. Vitamins K 2-3 are synthetically produced and don’t come from natural sources. There could be some life-saving benefits from eating vitamin K. The synthetic vitamin K can be purchased in supplements and obviously the other two natural sources can be found in foods. Phylloquinone, also known as vitamin K1, which is found in plants and performs the same functions as vitamin K. Interestingly, vitamin K1 can be converted to vitamin K2 by bacteria in the large intestine. As we mentioned earlier vitamin K2 is manufactured as a synthetic supplement.

Benefits of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is known to be beneficial in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and calcium blood levels. Other benefits of vitamin K are:

Cognitive Health- Supposedly, vitamin K can help with the memory of a person. It’s been suggested in a study that vitamin K is linked to helping elderly adults with memory. Older patients 70 years and above who had the highest levels of calcium blood levels of vitamin K1 had the highest verbal episodic ( consisting of a series  loosely related events) memory performance.

Bone Health- It has been reported that there is a link between osteoporosis and a deficiency of vitamin K. The logical connection would be that if a person consumes more vitamin K they will reduce the risk of osteoporosis. Some people have shown ,through many studies, that vitamin K help to strengthen the bones, improves bone density (which goes hand in hand with stronger bones), decreases the risk of bone fractures. But other people showed no improvements after consuming vitamin K2. Osteoporosis is on an epidemic scale worldwide. It’s believed that it causes 8.9 million fractures worldwide annually. Furthermore, it affects a whopping 200 million women worldwide. Here is the age breakdown:

  • 10%  of women aged 60
  • 20% of women aged 70
  • 40% of women aged 80
  • 66% of women aged 90 these are all numbers based on worldwide

One-in-three women and one-in-five men will experience an osteoporotic fracture. 61% of women experience these types of fractures. All these numbers are given so we can see the effect osteoporosis has had on the world population. Osteoporosis has accounted for more stays in the hospital  than cancer, heart attacks, and diabetes. It has disabled more people than cancer (except lung cancer). In some cases the fractures will lead to death men more often die from hip fractures after being hospitalized. All this to say that vitamin K can help deter osteoporosis by reducing fractures caused by osteoporosis. A study was conducted with 440 post menstrual women who had osteopenia (is a condition in which bone mineral density is lower than normal. Many medical professionals consider it to be a precursor to osteoporosis but fortunately not everyone to develops osteopenia will develop osteoporosis.) in a randomized placebo-controlled, double-blind trial using vitamin K against placebo. Vitamin K reduced the risk of  clinical fractures by 50% more than placebo. But it didn’t help with mineral bone density. Doctors believe vitamin K will help with bone strength not bone mineral density.

  • Heart Health– Vitamin K may help to lower blood pressure by eliminating the build-up of several minerals in the arteries (mineralization) allowing the heart to freely push blood through the body. Mineralization happens as a person grows older and is a major cause of heart disease. Increased levels of vitamin K intake may reduce the risk of stroke. Data has shown that consuming increased amounts of vitamin K2 can reduce the risk of coronary heart disease, coronary heart disease mortality, all-cause mortality, and severe aortic calcifications. (this is a very harmful condition in which calcium deposits form on the aortic valve of the heart and cause these valves to thin and make it difficult for blood to flow through the valve) K1 is even more effective in stopping arterial calcifications than K2. Arterial and aortic clarifications can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks, and strokes. So, in this case vitamin K in its different forms can give life-saving benefits for people.

Recommended Intake of Vitamin K

  • 0-6 months 2 mcg/day
  • 7-12 months 2.5 mcg/day
  • 1-3 years 30 mcg/day
  • 4-8 years 55 mcg/day
  • 9-13 years 60 mcg/day
  • 14-18 years 75 mcg/day
  • 19+ years, females 90 mcg/day
  • 19+ years, males 120 mcg/day

Further Benefits of Vitamin K Consumption

A deficiency of vitamin K may lead to heart disease, weakened bones (we mentioned these earlier), tooth decay, and cancer. Much of the vitamin K the human body intakes comes from bacteria we already have in the large intestine and the levels of vitamin K depend on how healthy your gut is. Vitamin K is an excellent deterrent  to blood clotting actually it plays a major role in blood clotting because it activates the protein that clots the blood. It also helps

  • Restore oral health
  • Fight cancer
  • Reduce infections

Top 10 Vitamin K Food Supplements

1) Green Leafy Vegetables (Kale)
½ c: 444 mcg (over 100% DV)

2) Natto (fermented soy)
2 oz: 500 mcg (over 100% DV)

3) Spring onions (Scallions)
½ c: 103 mcg (over 100% DV)

4) Brussels Sprouts
½ c: 78 mcg (98% DV)

5)Cabbage
½ cup: 82 mcg (over 100% DV)

6) Broccoli
½ c: 46 mcg (58% DV)

7) Dairy (fermented)
½ c: 10 mcg (10% DV)

8) Prunes
½ c: 52 mcg (65% DV)

9) Cucumbers
1 medium: 49 mcg (61% DV)

10) Dried basil
1 Tbsp: 36 mcg (45% DV)

Expanded  Benefits of Vitamin K

It has been discovered that vitamin K has new benefits and more are being discovered. It can help with anticalcification (keep bones from calcifying), and insulin-sensitising molecule. (normally these are drugs that are given that act like insulin but don’t produce the fat) Vitamin K has been found to be a natural insulin sensitizer which helps to regulate blood sugar levels. This is great for diabetic sufferers who don’t have to take the insulin sensitising drugs. The vitamin K will perform the same function as the drug without any side effects. It will act through natural means with the body. Warfarin is a vitamin K antagonist that could have damaging side effects. Taking extra amounts of vitamin K will deflect some of these side effects.

Anti Calcification

This is a process whereby calcium which normally forms in the bones gets deposited into the soft tissue of the body. This can be very dangerous because the tissue will harden and cause medical problems. Vitamin K may alleviate this problem by preventing calcium from depositing in the soft tissue.

Protein Wonder

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that will help with the various functions of protein. It helps in the coagulation factors (II, VII, IX, X and protein C and protein S) and osteocalcin (a bone-forming protein) and matrix-Gla protein (MGP) (an anticalcification protein), to identify a few.

Cancer Reduction

There was a substantial study conducted on 11,000 men over a nine year period. It found that vitamin K can reduce the risk of prostate cancer. The men were given increased amounts of vitamin K2. It was discovered that vitamin K has been able to prevent cancer in some cancer cell lines particularly prostate cancer. The study with the men found an insignificant but still a measure of prevention of total prostate cancer. There was a higher prevention rate among

Beautiful and Glowing Skin with Vitamin K

severe prostate cancer patients. The study concluded that there was a relationship between taking vitamin K and reduction of prostate cancer. The results were insignificant but there ws some reduction of the risk of cancer. The researchers of the study said more studies for cancer prevention from taking vitamin K were warranted.

Beautiful and Glowing Skin with Vitamin K

The same calcification process that hardens arteries will affect the connective tissue called elastin which keeps the skin soft and pliable. If you don’t take bitamin K then calcium can be deposited in skin’s elastin fibers hardening them which will cause wrinkles. Adequate consumption of vitamin K will stop calcium in the elastin fibers and will keep the skin soft and flexible preventingwrinkles from forming. Also, vitamin K is needed to manufacture certain proteins tht help to keep the skin clear and healthy. It also may help to prevent acne from forming. Other topical application of vitamin K showed that it helped heal scarred by acne.

The Life Giver

A study was conducted in 2014 and concluded that increased intake of vitamin K could extend life. The study involved 7,000 people who were at high risk for cardiovascular disease. In this group the people who took the highest amount of vitamin K were 36% lesslikelyto die from anything than those who took less vitamin K. This supposed protection extended to people who previously had low amounts of vitamin K but took more vitamin K during the study. Vitamin K is supposed to be able to fight the following diseases: atherosclerosis, osteoporosis, diabetes, and cancer—because it has the unique ability to activate proteins involved in these conditions.

Condition Vitamin K Form Risk Reduction

All-Cause Mortality 26% (Highest vs. Lowest Intake)3

All-Cause Mortality K1 36% (Highest vs. Lowest Intake)2
Cancer K1 46% (Highest vs. Lowest Intake)2
Cancer, Advanced Prostate K2 63% (Highest vs. Lowest Intake)7
Cancer Death K2 28% (Highest vs. Lowest Intake)54
Coronary Artery Calcification K2 20% (Highest vs. Lowest Intake)30
Coronary Heart Disease K1 21% (Highest vs. Lowest Intake)66
Coronary Heart Disease K2 9% lower risk for each 10 microgram/d increased intake67
Coronary Heart Disease Mortality K2  57% (Highest vs. Lowest Intake)3
Metabolic Syndrome K1 27% for having low HDL-cholesterol*

49% for having elevated triglycerides*

82% for having high blood sugar* (All Highest vs. Lowest Intake)68

Type II Diabetes K2 7% lower risk for each 10 microgram/d increased intake5
Type II Diabetes K1 17% reduction for each 100 microgram/d increased intake6
Type II Diabetes K1 51% with increased K1 intake vs. decreased or no change in intake
We will list recipes in this final section to help you put the benefits of vitamin K to practical use.

Recipes

Tomato Macaroni and Cheese

Ingredients:

1 box 16oz elbow macaroni noodles
1 can 14 ½ oz diced tomato
8 oz block sharp cheddar cheese
16 oz block Velveeta cheese
1 1/2 cups of milk (2% or vitamin)
salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

1 box 16oz elbow macaroni noodles
1 can 14 1/2oz diced tomato
8 oz block sharp cheddar cheese
16 oz block Velveeta cheese
1 1/2 cups of milk (2% or vitamin)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring water to a rapid boil, add the box of macaroni and cook uncovered for 8 minutes stirring frequently. While the noodles are boiling, cut cheese into small blocks. The 2 kinds of cheese should be on separate plates so they don’t combine.

Once the noodles are done, drain them and place back into the pot on a separate burner that is not on. Stir in the can of diced tomatoes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium sauce pan, pour in the 1 1/2 cups of milk. Turn to medium heat. When milk gets hot, start to stir in the Velveeta cheese one block at a time; (DO NOT STOP STIRRING OR LEAVE THE MILK AND CHEESE SAUCE! – This will cause your sauce to burn.)

Once you have all the Velveeta cheese melted and mixed with the milk, set aside.

In a medium sized clear pyrex baking dish, add sharp cheese blocks to the tomato and noodles mix. Mix together. Pour all of the mix into the pyrex dish then add the milk and Velveeta cheese mix on top.

Be careful not to overfill the pyrex dish.

Place in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes, let cool for 15 minutes and serve.

This is a great way to get the kids to eat a tomato….

Vitamin Salad

Ingredients:

1/2 head cabbage, grated
1/2 c. oil
2 tbsp. sugar
2 tbsp. vinegar
1 c. almonds, sliced
1 pkg. chicken Ramen noodles
1/2 onion or green onion, finely chopped

Instructions:

Combine oil, sugar and vinegar with flavor pack from Ramen noodles. Break noodles and brown in pan with a touch of oil. Combine cabbage, onion, almonds and noodles. Toss dressing over them when ready to serve.

SMOKED KIELBASA

Ingredients:

3 lbs not-so-lean pork butt
2 lbs beef brisket or chuck, trimmed of fat
1/4 cup powdered milk
1 tbsp. + 1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. Hungarian paprika
1 tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. green or white peppercorns, freshly ground
1/2 tsp. nutmeg, freshly grated
1/2 tsp. ground celery seed
1/2 tsp. dried sweet marjoram or oregano
1/2 tsp. ground coriander seed
1/4 tsp. citric acid (Vitamin C)
curing salt (enough for 5 lbs meat)
1 tbsp. fresh garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup ice water
4 to 5 feet of real sausage casing

Instructions:

Soak the casing in cold salted water following instructions on package. Cut meat into cubes or 1-inch wide by 2X3-inch strips. Grind pork using the coarse blade.

Grind beef using the fine blade. Combine both meats well and add remaining ingredients, then stuff into prepared casings using a sausage stuffing attachment of the meat grinder. Pinch and twist casings into links of the desired length. Tie off ends. Allow kielbasa to dry (covered) overnight in refrigerator.

Fire up the smoker and bring to a steady temperature between 180°F and 190°F. Smoke the sausage away from any flame for two to three hours, or until internal temperature reaches 160°F. Submerge the sausages in ice water for 20 minutes, then refrigerate for up to several weeks or vacuum package and freeze for longer keeping.

Pineapple Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

2 tsp. ascorbic acid/Vitamin C mixture (like Fruit Fresh)
1/4 c. water
1 large pineapple
1 dozen strawberries, fresh or frozen
1 1/2 c. assorted melon balls (cantaloupe, honeydew and watermelon)
1 can Mandarin oranges, drained
1/4 c. candied ginger

Instructions:

Combine the Fruit Fresh (if you don’t have this you can use fresh lemon juice instead) and water, cut pineapple in half lengthwise, leaving plume attached to each half.

Carve out and remove cores of fruit using a curved grapefruit knife or other sharp knife. Discard cores, pits, seeds, etc and white portions of peels.

Dice fruit. Coat diced pineapple and inside of pineapple shells with ascorbic acid solution. Combine diced pineapple with remaining ingredients. Fill shells with fruit.

Cover lightly with plastic wrap.

Refrigerate until ready to serve. Serve with wooden picks or cocktail forks, if desired

Vitamin K is an up and coming vitamin that has been researched in recent years

Grand Conclusion:

Vitamin K is an up and coming vitamin that has been researched in recent years. It been researched in various studies which have shown it has some remarkable benefits to offer. The investigation for cancer prevention is still being researched.  It offers some life-saving benefits which make it that much more valuable. Apply some of the recipes to increase your intake of vitamin K.

Written by Irina Radosevic MD
Irina graduated from the University of Belgrade, School of Medicine as a Doctor of Medicine (MD) and spent over 3 years working in the Clinical Hospital Center Zvezdara, in the Department of Emergency Medicine. She also undertook a postgraduate in Cardiology from the same University and had previously worked for over a year as a Physician and Nutritionist Dietitian for the Fitness club Green Zone. She eventually left her chaotic but fulfilling job in the ER to pursue her passion of writing, travelling and mountain climbing which has included writing a first aid course for the alpine club of Belgrade. Irina currently works as a VA for PintMedia focusing on medical and travel writing. Feel free to connect with Irina on LinkedIn and FaceBook. Her CV can be seen here.