Vitamin K Basics
A very important nutrient that has been sadly misrepresented or ignored. Vitamin K is a blood regulator. It doesn’t “thicken” blood, it regulates the coagulation of the blood.
It is a fat-soluble vitamin which is naturally present in some foods.
Vitamin K is a chemical structure of 2-methyl-1, 4-naphthoquinone. Included in these compounds are phylloquinones (K1) and menaquinones (K2).
It is important for the absorption of vitamin K that you take it with food. A low-fat diet will not help you absorb vitamin K. Since it is fat-soluble, you need to eat some sort of healthy fat in order to absorb it properly.
If you have a hard time digesting fats, consider supplementing with lecithin. It helps emulsify fats, making them much easier to digest. If you have no gallbladder, ox bile salts can help immensely.
Vitamin K is commonly known and used for bone health, but its benefits reach even further. It is essential for the health of your bones, liver and cardiovascular system and even brain health.
Forms Of Vitamin K
Vitamin K1 is mostly found in green leafy vegetables. Vitamin K2 is mostly bacterial in origin and found in small amounts in animal-based and fermented foods. Natto contains high amounts of menaquinones (K2). Most menaquinones (K2) are also produced by your gut bacteria (if you have a healthy gut ecosystem). Most information on the internet tells you that you can get all your vitamin K from green leafy vegetables. As you can see, this is only partially true.
The form of vitamin K is important. K2 is more effective than K1. Two common forms of Vitamin K2 are Mk-4 and Mk-7. Mk-4 is the active form which has been used in Japan for decades. However, Mk-7 provides good results as well.
Vitamin K3, which is sometimes called Menadione is a synthetic form of K. In studies it was shown to damage the cells of your liver. Its not used anymore, but one could speculate that a lot of the bias against vitamin K supplements came from the results of the synthetic form.
Vitamin K2 has the ability to promote proper calcium absorption. Continuing to supplement with just higher doses of calcium, without taking vitamin K, is not effective for bone health.
If you have osteoporosis, vitamin K2 can be very useful in conjunction with other nutrients such as vitamin D3, boron, vitamin C, magnesium and silica.
Trials done in Japan on K2 supplementation (specifically MK-4) showed improved bone mineral density. It greatly reduced the incidents of hip fractures, vertebral and non-vertebral fractures.
In many trials using very low dosages conclude that vitamin K has no benefits. Dosage is very important and many trials do not use a high enough dosage. It is also important to note that the trials where vitamin D was added to the K2, seemed to have much greater success.
Its not all about osteoporosis either. Vitamin K stimulates the creation of proteins that regulate bone growth and can reduce the incidence of fractures and improve the health of your bones. It is an all-round essential nutrient for the health of your bones (and teeth).
Any time you are experiencing a calcium build-up somewhere in the body, supplementing with the right amounts of magnesium, vitamin D3 and K2 are very important.
Vitamin K2 has the ability to promote cardiovascular health. It increases the absorption of calcium from the blood stream, and then directed to your bones. This can help prevent calcium build-up in your arteries.
For proper blood clotting Vitamin K2 is essential. A deficiency in Vitamin K2 can also cause you to bruise easily.
Many people with chronic episodes of nosebleeds can often benefit from supplementing with vitamin K2. There are other causes of nosebleeds, but vitamin k deficiency is a huge one that does not get a lot of attention or recognition. If you experience chronic nosebleeds, try supplementing with K2.
What About Blood Thinners?
According to nutritional pharmacist Jerry Hickey, you can take vitamin K supplements if you are on blood thinners, with one exception: Warfarin (Coumadin). If you are on Warfarin (Coumadin) do not take vitamin K supplements. There are many alternatives to Warfarin as well. If you are on Warfarin and would like to try a different medication, you can speak with your doctor about an alternative.
Studies have been done showing that Warfarin often causes osteoporosis. There is also correlation of warfarin being taken and the risk of vertebral fractures. Prescription anticoagulants can increase your risk of osteoporosis in just one year.
There are natural things that can deal with blood clots quite easily. Olive leaf extract and Nattokinase are two very powerful yet safe supplements you can use to prevent and greatly reduce blood clots. Menstruating women who suffer from blood clots during menses can find great relief by supplementing with Olive leaf extract or Nattokinase.
Antibiotics destroy the bacteria in the gut needed for the body to make vitamin K. Most people will need to supplement with it because their bodies aren’t making it.
The highest sources in food are:
- Natto – which contains 850mcg per 3 ounce serving. It contains K2 in the form of MK-7
- Chicken breast – which contains 13mcg per 3 ounce serving. It contains K2 in the form of MK-4
The small amounts of vitamin K found in multivitamins are most often not nearly enough. 120mcg is a standard dosage of K2 in most standalone supplements, or supplements combined with D3. A dosage of 120mcg a day is recommended.
If you would like more information on using Vitamin K while on blood thinners, you can listen to this podcast by Nutritional Pharmacist Jerry Hickey.