Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a key role in preventing excessive bleeding, bone metabolism and regulating blood calcium levels.
Digestion, Metabolism and Absorption
Vitamin K is absorbed from the small intestine where it then enters the body’s circulation via the lymphatic system. The lymphatic system is made up of numerous organs and tissues that play an important role in maintaining a healthy immune response and helps to rid your body of any toxins. Once vitamin K is in the blood (the body’s circulation), it is broken down in the liver and removed fairly quickly from the body.
One of the most important roles of vitamin K is the role it plays in blood clotting. Vitamin K helps to create various proteins, such as prothrombin (a vitamin K dependent protein), directly involved in the blood clotting process.
Vitamin K also plays an essential role in the formation of bones by creating osteocalcin, which is a protein that requires vitamin K to form and mineralize healthy bone tissue.
Vitamin K comes in two forms and the main type is called phylloquinone, found in green leafy vegetables like collard greens, kale, and spinach, brussel sprouts, prunes, kiwi, avocado, etc.
Deficiency, Excess Intake and Supplementation
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that your liver stores in your body, therefore, you do not need to consume sources high in vitamin K every day as your body stores can provide you with some of this vitamin on the days that you don’t. Due to the role that vitamin K plays in bone health, a vitamin K deficiency can also contribute to osteoporosis (weak and brittle bones). Vitamin K also plays a central role in the metabolism of calcium. Thus, it supports the maintenance of strong bones and may reduce the risk of fractures
Vitamin K has a low potential for toxicity as it is broken down and excreted very quickly via urine or stool. No adverse effects have been noted when individuals consume too many foods or supplements high in vitamin K. However, vitamin K does interact with a variety of medications such as warfarin and other anticoagulants. If you are taking an anticoagulant then it is important to consult with your dietitian regarding your vitamin K intake.
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