Vitamin K: Benefits, Sources, Deficiency

A Danish scientist by the name of Henrik Dam identified Vitamin K in 1929. He had carried out an experiment to identify the role of cholesterol by feeding it to chickens and found that due to this cholesterol diet, the chicks suffered from haemorrhages and started bleeding. 

This deleterious effect could not be reversed, even by adding purified cholesterol to the diet. A second compound, called “coagulation vitamin,” was identified along with cholesterol. This brand new vitamin was named Vitamin K.

Benefits of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essentially required by the human body for blood coagulation and for the binding of calcium in bone and other tissues.

Vitamin K is absolutely essential for the process of blood clotting, which requires a minimum of 12 different proteins for it to complete its course. Four of these protein clotting factors require vitamin K for their actions.

Vitamin K plays another vital role in the human body: certain proteins require Vitamin K for binding calcium in bones and also in other tissues.

Being a fat-soluble vitamin, K gets stored in your body in the form of fatty tissues in the liver. Vitamin K is primarily categorized into Vitamin K1, Vitamin K2, and Vitamin K3.

One needs to check with a reliable and knowledgeable health care provider prior to taking a Vitamin K supplement or before giving it to a child. 

Ordinarily, an adult would require approximately 0.001 mg a day of Vitamin K for each kilogram of their body weight, so a person weighing around 65 kg would require at least .065 mg of Vitamin K a day.

Sources of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is mostly present in green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, kale and dark-coloured lettuce.

It is also found in beef, liver, meat, eggs, dairy products, fermented plant and animal foods. Shrimp, salmon and tuna are also found to be rich in Vitamin K. 

Similarly, a wide range of herbs like sage, oregano, black pepper, basil, cilantro, sage and parsley contain abundant Vitamin K.

Fruits such as blueberries, prunes, grapes and kiwi are excellent sources of Vitamin K. However, it is advisable to avoid freezing these foods, as the extreme cold can destroy the vitamin K content.

People whose bodies are unable to absorb Vitamin K due to gallbladder or biliary disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis or Crohn’s disease may benefit more from multivitamins that contain Vitamin K than from the supplements. In certain cases, your doctor may give you a Vitamin K shot if required. 

Under normal conditions, you can get all the Vitamin K you need by having a balanced

Diet. Dark leafy vegetables are found to be the most bountiful source of Vitamin K.

Deficiency of Vitamin K

There is no established evidence of what effects may occur due to the high dosage of Vitamin K.

However, much is known about the effects of Vitamin K deficiency. One of the major factors that lead to partial blindness in people is lack of vitamin K content in their body.

Dense bones and bone aches are prominent symptoms of Vitamin K deficiency. At times, you can also notice light green or bluish marks on one’s body if one is suffering from a lack of Vitamin K.

Common signs of Vitamin K deficiency are gum bleeding, bleeding nose or heavy menstrual bleeding, bleeding inside the digestive tract and urinating drops of blood.

Newborn babies or fetuses can also be affected due to Vitamin K deficiency. It also results in internal skull bleeding, malformed fingers or underdeveloped facial features. Vitamin K is essential in the development of the fetus and is therefore regularly given to pregnant women in the form of food supplements.

Hemorrhages and defective blood coagulation are also signs and symptoms of lack of Vitamin K. Vitamin K deficiency leads to prolonged clotting and anaemia, along with the deposition of calcium in soft tissues. 

Hardening of the arteries or calcium-related problems is other common signs of Vitamin K deficiency.

Other symptoms include biliary obstruction, malabsorption or even cystic fibrosis.

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