Published: 09/08/2014 - Updated: 03/08/2020
Author: Dra. Loredana Lunadei, PhD
Vitamin K is also known as the coagulation vitamin, precisely where the “K” comes from in its name. This vitamin has its roots in the Danish word Koagulation (coagulation), and belongs to the group of liposoluble vitamins. It was discovered in Denmark in the year 1929, by a scientist names Henrik Dam, who won the Nobel prize along with the North American Edward Doisy, for their work involving this interesting vitamin.
Functions and benefits of vitamin k
This vitamin has diverse functions in the body:
- ANTIHEMORRHAGIC: one of its principal functions is that it is an antihemorrhagic vitamin, and is involved in different functions that participate in blood coagulation. As seen in the paragraph above, that’s where it got its name. One of its principal functions works on the liver, where it realizes a synthesis of some factors that form part of what is known as “the coagulation cascade”. This refers to a series of reactions and processes whose purpose is to stop hemorrhaging of damaged blood vessels, by means of coagulation.
- BONES: vitamin K also plays a part in bone metabolism, because the bone protein osteocalcin requires vitamin K to mature. Vitamin K promotes and helps bone formation in our bodies. Some studies suggest (although they don’t confirm it) that this vitamin could help increase bone density, which could prevent fractures or bone system weakness, but above all, those with osteoporosis.
Foods that contain vitamin K
This vitamin can be obtained in two ways: one (known as vitamin K1, also named phylloquinone) is found in:
- Leafy, green vegetables (alfalfa, parsley, cilantro, spinach, etc.)
- Pig’s liver
- Vegetable oils (sunflower, soy, sesame, etc)
- Tomatoes (red tomatoes)
- Whole grains (oats, wheat, barley, rye, etc)
Vitamin K2 (also known as menaquinone) is produced by intestinal bacteria. Vitamin K2 (also known as menadione) is a synthetic variant of the previous ones, but duplicates their power. This is administered to people who don’t properly metabolize naturally ocurring vitamin K.
Vitamin K content in some foods:
- Soy oil 193
- Canola oil 127
- Cottonseed oil 60
- Cold pressed olive oil 55
- Alfalfa 390
- Asparagus 122
- Kale 440
- Spinach 380
- Broccoli 180
- Brussel sprouts 177
- Lettuce 35
- Green beans 33
- Tuna in oil 24
Vitamin K deficiency provokes:
When vitamin K is reduced, the body’s blood coagulant substances reduce as well, therefore running the risk of a hemorrhage, or coagulation times taking longer.
This deficiency can be detected when hemorrhages are constant.
Symptoms of a vitamin K deficiency:
- Bruises that frequently appear due to light hits
- Frequent bloody noses by blowing your nose.
- Bleeding gums
- Blood in urine
- Bloody stool
- Heavy menstruation
- Changes in fat absorption due to biliary obstruction
- Chronic pancreatitis
- Liver illnesses
- Ulcerative colitis
- Cystic fibrosis
- Short bowel syndrome
- Poor intestinal absorption, Celiac disease
People who are prone to vitamin K deficiencies:
- People with Celiac disease (intolerant of gluten in certain grains, like wheat, oats, barley, and rye).
- People who take certain medicines, like antibiotics, anticoagulants, anticonvulsants, aspirin.
Recommended dose of vitamin K
This deficiency is rare since it is included in a lot of foods in our common daily diet. Also, the liver reserves this vitamin to prevent this deficiency.
Smoothie recipe for blood coagulation
The smoothie mentioned bellow is especially indicated for people who have blood coagulation deficiencies. It is rich in vitamin K and other essential minerals to nourish the blood.
- 1 c. alfalfa sprouts
- 1 Tbsp. oats (leave out if you have Celiac disease. Substitute with sesame)
- 1 Tbsp. molasses or honey
- 1 small piece of beetroot
- 1 1/2 glasses of recently squeezed carrot juice
1. Blend all ingredients and sip without straining. Chew if necessary. You should drink this juice in the afternoon, don’t add white sugar or lemon to it. This juice also goes well with dinner.
Including a daily, fresh salad with your meals is a healthy habit, including the aforementioned vegetables, and vegetable oil dressings.
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