Vitamin K - It's Not Just Important For Clotting

Vitamin K was named for its role in coagulation (koagulation in German), but it turns out this important vitamin has significant roles beyond blood clotting. Work by Tufts researchers and others shows that vitamin K may be an important factor in bone health, cardiovascular health, and type 2 diabetes.

๐—ฉ๐—œ๐—ง๐—”๐— ๐—œ๐—ก ๐—ž๐Ÿญ ๐—ฉ๐—˜๐—ฅ๐—ฆ๐—จ๐—ฆ ๐—ž๐Ÿฎ

The originally-identified form of vitamin K is vitamin K1. โ€œThere are actually 11 forms of vitamin K,โ€ says Sarah L. Booth, PhD, a professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and director of the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA). โ€œVitamin K1 is found in plants. The other 10 forms of vitamin K are collectively known as vitamin K2. One form of vitamin K2 is made in our bodies from vitamin K1. The other nine forms are produced by bacteria, either in the human gut or in foods fermented with the use of bacteria, including cheese, yogurt, and other fermented dairy products.โ€ Our gut bacteria and fermented foods, therefore, may play an important role in what forms of vitamin K we have in our bodies.

๐—ง๐—›๐—˜ ๐—–๐—”๐—Ÿ๐—–๐—œ๐—จ๐—  & ๐—ฉ๐—œ๐—ง๐—”๐— ๐—œ๐—ก ๐—ž ๐—–๐—ข๐—ก๐—ก๐—˜๐—–๐—ง๐—œ๐—ข๐—ก

Vitamin K appears to play a critical role in the regulation of calcium in our bodies. โ€œThere are certain proteins responsible for keeping calcium away from places we donโ€™t want calciumโ€”like our joints and our arteriesโ€”and these proteins cannot function without vitamin K,โ€ says Booth. Low vitamin K status, therefore, could potentially increase risk for build-up of calcium in the artery walls (hardening of the arteries) and the calcification of joint tissue that leads to osteoarthritis. โ€œAdequate intake of dietary vitamin K cannot reverse hardening of the arteries, for example, but it is associated with lower risk of the calcification spreading,โ€ says Booth.

Kyla Shea, PhD, a scientist in the vitamin K lab at the HNRCA, has been studying vitamin K and osteoarthritis. โ€œIn observational studies we and others have found better vitamin K status to be associated with less osteoarthritis and better lower-extremity function and mobility,โ€ says Shea, โ€œbut we will need clinical trials to know for sure if vitamin K can reduce osteoarthritis development or progression.โ€ Since osteoarthritis is the leading cause of lower extremity disability in older adults, and this age group is also more likely to have lower vitamin K intakes, Shea points out it is particularly important for older adults to be aware of this possible connection.

There may also be a connection between vitamin K and bone health. โ€œMultiple proteins in bone require vitamin K,โ€ says Booth, โ€œand some data suggest a fairly strong association between blood markers of vitamin K intake and bone mineral density in older adults. But multiple randomized controlled trials that gave people either vitamin K1 supplements or a placebo found no benefit of K1 supplementation for bone health.โ€

๐—ฉ๐—œ๐—ง๐—”๐— ๐—œ๐—ก ๐—ž๐Ÿฎ ๐—”๐—ก๐—— ๐——๐—œ๐—”๐—•๐—˜๐—ง๐—˜๐—ฆ

According to Dariush Mozaffarian, MD, DrPH, dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and editor-in-chief of Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, a growing body of research suggests that vitamin K2 may also protect against type 2 diabetes. โ€œIn small controlled trials, vitamin K2 supplements have improved insulin sensitivity and glucose handling,โ€ says Mozaffarian, โ€œperhaps through effects on metabolism of osteocalcin, an important hormone. Vitamin K2 may also reduce inflammation by inactivating key pro-inflammatory pathways. In long-term observational studies, foods rich in vitamin K2, such as cheese, are also linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes.โ€ This emerging research suggests that vitamin K2 may help prevent type 2 diabetes. โ€œThis potential effect is not yet widely recognized, and I believe future research will focus on vitamin K2 levels in cheese and other fermented foods and their possible benefits for type 2 diabetes,โ€ says Mozaffarian.

๐—ช๐—›๐—”๐—ง ๐—™๐—ข๐—ข๐——๐—ฆ ๐—ฃ๐—ฅ๐—ข๐—ฉ๐—œ๐——๐—˜ ๐—ฉ๐—œ๐—ง๐—”๐— ๐—œ๐—ก ๐—ž?

Vitamin K is found naturally in many foods. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin K by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

โ€ข Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, broccoli, and lettuce
โ€ข Vegetable oils
โ€ข Some fruits, such as blueberries and figs
โ€ข Meat, cheese, eggs, and soybeans

๐—ช๐—›๐—”๐—ง ๐—ž๐—œ๐—ก๐——๐—ฆ ๐—ข๐—™ ๐—ฉ๐—œ๐—ง๐—”๐— ๐—œ๐—ก ๐—ž ๐——๐—œ๐—˜๐—ง๐—”๐—ฅ๐—ฌ ๐—ฆ๐—จ๐—ฃ๐—ฃ๐—Ÿ๐—˜๐— ๐—˜๐—ก๐—ง๐—ฆ ๐—”๐—ฅ๐—˜ ๐—”๐—ฉ๐—”๐—œ๐—Ÿ๐—”๐—•๐—Ÿ๐—˜?

Vitamin K is found in multivitamin/multimineral supplements. Vitamin K is also available in supplements of vitamin K alone or of vitamin K with a few other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and/or vitamin D. Common forms of vitamin K in dietary supplements are phylloquinone and phytonadione (also called vitamin K1), menaquinone-4, and menaquinone-7 (also called vitamin K2).

๐—”๐—  ๐—œ ๐—š๐—˜๐—ง๐—ง๐—œ๐—ก๐—š ๐—˜๐—ก๐—ข๐—จ๐—š๐—› ๐—ฉ๐—œ๐—ง๐—”๐— ๐—œ๐—ก ๐—ž?

Vitamin K deficiency is very rare. Most people in the United States get enough vitamin K from the foods they eat. Also, bacteria in the colon make some vitamin K that the body can absorb. However, certain groups of people may have trouble getting enough vitamin K:

โ€ข Newborns who donโ€™t receive an injection of vitamin K at birth
โ€ข People with conditions (such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and short bowel syndrome) that decrease the amount of vitamin K their body absorbs
โ€ข People who have had bariatric (weight loss) surgery

๐—ช๐—›๐—”๐—ง ๐—›๐—”๐—ฃ๐—ฃ๐—˜๐—ก๐—ฆ ๐—œ๐—™ ๐—œ ๐——๐—ข๐—กโ€™๐—ง ๐—š๐—˜๐—ง ๐—˜๐—ก๐—ข๐—จ๐—š๐—› ๐—ฉ๐—œ๐—ง๐—”๐— ๐—œ๐—ก ๐—ž?

Severe vitamin K deficiency can cause bruising and bleeding problems because the blood will take longer to clot. Vitamin K deficiency might reduce bone strength and increase the risk of getting osteoporosis because the body needs vitamin K for healthy bones.

๐—›๐—˜๐—”๐—Ÿ๐—ง๐—› ๐—ก๐—ข๐—ง๐—˜

Before adding a Vitamin K supplement to your daily routine, consult with your doctor. Odds are you probably donโ€™t need a vitamin K supplement if youโ€™re eating a well balanced diet and are not one of the higher risk people listed above.

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