About Vitamin "K"

I was having a conversation the other nite with my "almost sister-in-law" and she was telling me about her "almost husband" (we have a lot of "almost relatives") and vitamin K. The reason I found this interesting was because he has liver disease and Hepatitis C just like a friend of mine, but wasn't able to go thru the complete treatments because his doctors said his body couldn't take it. She said she did some research and put him on a special diet along with vitamin k and some other supplements, and he's now in remission plus the liver is repairing itself, to a certain extent. Vitamin K, like Vitamin D is one you really don't hear too much about even tho it is one of the more essential vitamins the body needs. After talking to her I decided to do some research myself. The following is part of what I found. There's more on drug interactions and interactions with other vitamins, but you'd be here for a week trying to read it all! This will give you the basics.

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin. The K vitamin is essential for the
functioning of several proteins which cause the blood to clot, or coagulate, to repair injuries. Whenever a person has a bleeding wound, it is the K vitamin that is present in the blood that stops the bleeding and enables most minor cuts to heal quickly.

3 Forms of Vitamin K
There are three different forms of the K vitamin. The first variant of the K vitamin is vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone. This is the form of the K vitamin that is found in types of plant foods. The second form of the K vitamin is the vitamin K2, or menaquinone-n. This type of
the K vitamin is formed by friendly bacteria in the intestines and is produced by our own bodies. These are both natural forms of vitamin K. Thirdly, there is vitamin K3 which is also known as menadione and is actually an artificial form of the K vitamin. Vitamin K1 and K2 end up
in the liver where it is used to create the blood clotting substances. While they have decided Vitamin K3 is found in other organs besides the liver and has a unique biological function, they don't seem to know what that function is. Isn't that typical? LOL.

Vitamin K In Your Diet
The best natural sources of the K vitamin are green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli, and swiss chard. All of these provide more than the recommended daily requirement. Since the friendly bacteria in the intestine makes one of the forms of the K vitamin and it's so readily available in some of the food we eat, it is rare for a person to have a deficiency. Vitamin K supplements are not needed by the majority of people.

Too Little or Too Much Vitamin K?
Something like severe liver disease (like in the case mentioned above), may cause a substantial lowering of blood levels of vitamin K which could increase the risk of uncontrolled bleeding, or hemorrhaging. This is definitely a vitamin that falls in the "damned if you do and damned if you don't" catagory. Just as too little vitamin K can cause hemmorrhaging, too much can cause blood clots, which could block the flow of blood in arteries of the heart, brain, or lungs resulting in heart attack, stroke, or pulmonary embolism. Many people have to be put on "anticoagulants", or blood thinners, to help the blood flow. While people who have to take things like Warafin or
Cumadin have been cautioned in the past not to consume very large quantities of vitamin k in their diets as it could override their bloodthinners ability to "anticoagulate", doctors now advise getting the daily recommendations (90-120 mcg/daily) thru dietary
intake. An extended course of antibiotics may also lead to a vitamin K deficiency due to the fact that the antibiotics kill the good intestinal bacteria as well as the bad ones they are being taken to cure. In this case also, a K vitamin supplement may be given if the course of antibiotics has to continue for a long period of time.

Vitamin K and Our Bones
Apart from the main function of helping blood to clot by binding proteins and vitamin K to calcium in what they call a "coagulation cascade, Vitamin K1 has an important part to play in the bone building process. This K vitamin is required to retain the calcium in the bones
and redistribute it to where it is needed. Lack of control of the proccessess neccessary for forming vitamin k could lead to cartilage calcification and severe malformation of developing bone, or deposition of insoluble calcium salts in the walls of the arteries. This is quite
common in people suffering from atherosclerosis, which suggests Vitamin
K deficiency is more common than they thought.

Vitamin K and Newborns
Newborn babies may not have enough of the K vitamin as they have insufficient bacteria in their
intestines to produce it. Vitamin K also does not easily transfer through the placental wall, and it is not fully functional in infants, especially those born premature. Vitamin K deficiency in newborns can cause what is called "vitamin K dificiency bleeding (VKDB)" and is life threatening. The majority of newborn babies in developed countries are therefore given a vitamin k1 injection to tide them over until the natural process takes over. That is the only time that a K vitamin
supplement will be taken by most people throughout their lives.

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS