Vitamin K Deficiency? Top 10 Vitamin K Foods You Have to Try Before Supplements
What is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a group of compounds or fat-soluble vitamins that have a vital role in blood clotting and preventing excessive bleeding. The body needs vitamin K to synthesize certain bone proteins. It can assist in the transport of calcium within the body and it can help minimize bone loss and lower the risk of bone fractures. You can obtain vitamin K1 from vegetables, especially the green leafy variety. Vitamin K2 comes from meats, eggs, cheeses, which are then synthesized by bacteria.
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Vitamin K Deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency is very dangerous because it raises the risk of bleeding uncontrollably. This type of deficiency is very rare in adults, but they can happen to newborn babies. It is common in hospitals to give a single dose of vitamin K to the newborns. Even though vitamin K deficiency is rare, you can be at risk if you fall under these factors:
You are suffering from Crohn’s disease or Celiac disease that affects the ability of your digestive system to absorb nutrients. You can suffer from severe malnutrition. You are taking drugs that can interfere with the absorption of vitamin K. You are an alcoholic or you are a heavy drinker.
Most people get adequate amounts of vitamin K from their diet. Here is a breakdown of how much vitamin K you and your family need every day:
- Newborn babies up to 6 months – 2 micrograms per day
- Toddlers 1 to 3 years old – 30 micrograms per day
- Children 9 to 13 years old – 60 micrograms per day
- Boys and girls 14 to 18 years old – 75 micrograms per day
- Adult women – 90 micrograms per day
- Adult men – 120 micrograms per day
- Pregnant women should take about 90 micrograms per day, while pregnant teens or those less than 19 years old require 75 micrograms per day.
If you are pregnant, it is advised that you should not exceed the recommended daily intake of vitamin K. This means you should avoid vitamin K supplements that have higher dosage. For those who have already experienced a heart attack, stroke, and are prone to blood clotting, then you should consult your doctor first regarding your vitamin K intake. People who are undergoing blood thinning medication may need to limit their intake of vitamin K foods. Vitamin K can affect the medication or the blood thinning drugs.
Vitamin K Benefits
Vitamin K may not be as popular as vitamin A or C, but just like all vitamins, it is beneficial for your overall health. Before considering supplements, you can try vitamin K foods, which are a lot healthier and contains more nutrients. Here are some of the most important health benefits of vitamin K.
Vitamin K Promote Bone Health
Studies have proven that vitamin K can promote stronger bones and improve bone density. There have also been cases wherein vitamin k deficiency or low intake of vitamin K is strongly associated with osteoporosis. According to a recent research, people with high levels of vitamin K2 are less likely to suffer from hip fractures. Vitamin K can help increase bone mineral density and lower the risk of fractures and bone injury. For those who are already suffering from bone injuries, consuming more vitamin K foods can help heal those fractures.
Vitamin K Keeps Your Heart Healthy
Vitamin K helps prevent mineralization, which can build up in the arteries and cause high blood pressure. By stopping mineralization in the arteries, it enables the blood to flow freely through your body. This lowers the risk of heart disease and stroke. The mineralization or calcification of the arteries is the leading cause of heart attack. Some studies also show that vitamin K is an important ingredient in reducing inflammation and protecting the cells that line the blood vessels in the veins and arteries.
Boost Cognitive Performance
Vitamin K is closely linked to an improved cognitive health in older people. One study showed that people over 70 years old, who have high vitamin K levels in the blood, had the best memory performance.
Eases Menstrual Pain
Vitamin K has the ability to regulate hormones, which allows it to reduce menstrual pains. Excessive bleeding during the menstrual period can also be prevented, thus easing menstrual pains and cramps.
Keep Your Teeth and Gums Healthy
Increase in vitamin K, along with other fat-soluble vitamins, is strongly associated with having healthy teeth and gums. With regular dose of vitamin K, it can kill the bad bacteria in the mouth that weakens the enamel and causes tooth decay. By eating foods rich in vitamin K and other essential vitamins and minerals, you are providing the proper nutrients that will keep your teeth strong.
Vitamin K Lowers the Risk of Cancer
There have been studies proving that vitamin K has the ability to fight certain cancer diseases such as colon cancer, prostate cancer, stomach cancer, oral cancer, and nasal cancer. So far, research and studies conducted about vitamin K offer positive results in reducing the risk of certain types of cancer.
Help with Blood Clotting
Vitamin K is important because it can prevent your body from bleeding and bruising easily. Blood clotting cannot happen if there are low levels of vitamin K in the body. Vitamin K plays a huge part in the faster healing of wounds, cuts, and bruises. It can be very dangerous for babies with vitamin K deficiency because it can lead to HDN or hemorrhagic disease of newborns. This is the reason why most hospitals give vitamin K injections to newborns in order to prevent HDN.
Promotes Brain Health
Vitamin K has anti-inflammatory properties that can help protect your brain against oxidative stress. When the brain suffers from constant oxidative stress, it may lead to the development of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and cancer.
Top 10 Vitamin K Foods
As mentioned earlier, the daily recommended value of vitamin K for adult men is 120 micrograms per day, while for women, it is 90 micrograms per day. You can find this nutrient in vegetables, herbs, fruits, and meats. It is important to consume vitamin K foods because the body does not store large amounts of vitamin K, so you need to get them through your daily diet. To ensure that you have a daily dose of vitamin K, you should consume more of the following foods below.
Cooked kale offers about 565 micrograms of vitamin K per one-half cup. You cannot make a list of vitamin K foods without kale, simply because kale is the king of vitamin K. This superfood vegetable is also a powerhouse when it comes to essential vitamins and minerals such as calcium, folate, and potassium. Experts recommend consuming cooked kale instead of raw in order for you to get its optimum health benefits.
One-half cup of boiled or cooked spinach contains about 444 micrograms of vitamin K. If you’re going to eat a single serving of boiled spinach, it is enough to give you 888 micrograms of this vital nutrient. Aside from vitamin K, spinach is also rich in vitamins A, B, and E, plus essential minerals such as iron, magnesium, and folate. Just like kale, cooked spinach has more amounts of vitamin K than raw, so it is better to boil it or cook it before serving.
A one-half cup of cooked asparagus is enough to provide 72 micrograms of vitamin K. If you’re going to eat four spears of asparagus, it can offer up to 40 micrograms of vitamin K. However, keep in mind that eating too much vitamin K foods in one day won’t be any good for you since the body cannot absorb too much vitamin K from foods and it is usually flushed out of the body quickly.
One cup of raw broccoli contains about 92 micrograms of vitamin K. If you boil or cook one cup of broccoli, it now contains about 220 micrograms. Keep in mind that the recommended amount of vitamin K is often based on the medical condition of the person. If you are on any medication, it is best to consult your healthcare provider regarding how much vitamin K foods you need to consume each day.
One cup of drained sauerkraut contains about 18.5 micrograms of vitamin K. However, if you consume one cup of sauerkraut without draining the fluids, then it contains 135 micrograms of vitamin K. Aside from vitamin K, sauerkraut is also rich in vitamin C, iron, manganese, protein, and other antioxidants. You can easily buy sauerkraut in groceries and local eateries.
If you consume one cup of soybeans, it would provide you with about 87 micrograms of vitamin K. However, other soy products like soy milk have very low vitamin K content. Soy sauce has zero vitamin K content. Soybean and soybean oil contains more of the vitamin K2. Edamame is a Japanese cuisine that is also a soybean. One-half cup of boiled edamame contains 25 micrograms of vitamin K. Edamame is popular as a snack, but you can also find a lot of recipes using edamame as one of its main ingredients.
Both one-half head of an iceberg lettuce and one-half cup of romaine lettuce can provide you with 60 micrograms of vitamin K per serving. In the US, lettuce is widely popular as the best source of vitamin K. You can easily get lettuce in supermarkets and groceries, and it is the usual ingredient in salads, sandwiches and other popular American dishes. If you are on a blood thinning medication, you should be careful in consuming lettuce and other vitamin K foods. Doctors advise that your vitamin K intake should just be stable when you are on blood thinning medication.
One-half cup of cooked Brussels Sprouts can provide you with 150 micrograms of vitamin K. You can easily get as much as 300 micrograms of vitamin K per serving. Brussels sprouts are a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, and most of these vegetables are also high in vitamin K. Vitamin K and the other nutrients found in Brussels sprouts lowers the risk of chronic and excessive inflammation. This vegetable is also great for people trying to lose weight because they are very low in calories.
These cruciferous vegetables are collard greens, turnip greens, and mustard greens. One-half cup of cooked turnip greens can provide you with 425 micrograms of vitamin K. Cooked collard greens have even more vitamin K, providing 530 micrograms per one-half cup. In one cup of chopped raw mustard greens, you can get 144 micrograms of vitamin K. It is suggested that you should not overcook or boil these vegetables for more than 5 minutes because they will lose most of their essential nutrients.
Scallions and Other Spices
Scallions or spring onions provide 103 micrograms of vitamin K per one-half cup. They are a good source of vitamin K, vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, and iron. Scallions are also low in calories and they provide some fiber. When it comes to spices, you can get your dose of vitamin K from red chili powder, paprika, curry powder, and cayenne. These spices contain a fair amount of vitamin K. You can add scallions, spices, and other herbs in your soups, salads, and main dishes if you want to increase your intake of vitamin K.
Getting Vitamin K Naturally
Before taking any vitamin K supplements, you should try adding more of these vitamin K foods to your regular diet. You can try consuming more green leafy vegetables, cruciferous vegetables, whole food sources, and sea vegetables. It is always better to acquire vitamin K naturally through these foods because they are also rich in other essential vitamins and minerals. You don’t have to worry about adding more calories to your diet because most of these foods are very low in calories. And the good news is that vitamin K works with other nutrients in boosting your overall health. Vitamin K works with calcium, magnesium, and vitamin D to keep your bones healthy and strong.