K is for Koagulation: What are the Benefits and Risks of Vitamin K?

green vegetable sources of vitamin k

Vitamin K represents a complex of fat-soluble vitamins that play an important role in blood clotting and bone health. Vitamin K1 is found in leafy greens, broccoli and brussel sprouts. K2 is produced by fermenting bacteria, and it is found in fermented dairy products and in our own guts, where our gut microbiota break down a portion of ingested K1 into K2.

Benefits

Vitamin K’s main action in the body supports the blood coagulation and clotting process, and individuals with K deficiency are prone to prolonged bleeding, easy bruising, excessive menstrual flow or intestinal hemorrhage. Having adequate levels of Vitamin K will ensure that your clotting action is functioning properly.

Higher Vitamin K levels in the bloodstream have also been linked to bone health and a decreased risk of osteoporosis and osteopenia. The scientific community hypothesizes that this connection is due to Vitamin K assisting the movement of calcium through the bloodstream.

K’s effects on clotting and bone health are well-researched and broadly accepted, but other potential benefits of Vitamin K on health and well-being are in the early stages of verification. Scientists have found links between Vitamin K and athletic performance, cognitive ability, cancer risk, cancer survival, and cystic fibrosis. Further research is necessary to prove and illuminate any caveats to these connections but the clinical outlook for this “koagulation” vitamin is promising.

Risks

Vitamin K has no known toxicity, which means that no known cases of “overdosing” on Vitamin K have been recorded.

However, Vitamin K can pose risks to individuals who are taking prescribed blood-thinners to manage hypertension or an increased clot risk. Blood-thinners work by disrupting Vitamin K’s clotting function, and increasing the amount of Vitamin K in your body can negate and overwhelm your medication. If you are taking blood-thinners or have a condition which is often managed with blood-thinners, such as hypertension, seek to keep your Vitamin K intake constant and bring any questions to your doctor.

Dosage

Fortunately, it doesn’t take very much Vitamin K to see its clotting and bone-forming benefits. Adult women and men are recommended to ingest 90mcg and 120mcg, respectively, and these daily amounts are easily achieved through diet. Choose leafy greens and yogurt or eggs, and eat a bit of fat with your Vitamin K to aid absorption.

If you would like to take supplemental Vitamin K due to an insufficient diet, concern over osteoporosis or any other reason, check with your doctor first to be certain that you have no risk factors and to make a dosage plan.

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