Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient that is used to help our bodies with several different functions. The main benefit of Vitamin K in our bodies is to help our blood clot. When we lack Vitamin K, our bodies are unable to solidify our blood after a cut or any damage done to a blood vessel, whether externally or internally. If our blood refuses to clot we can bleed to death.
Vitamin K is also known for helping protect our bodies against osteoporosis. Research is showing that in women that suffer from osteoporosis their levels of Vitamin K are lowered. Vitamin K has also been shown to be an important part of forming cartilage and dentine which is found in our teeth. Since osteoporosis is a common condition found among aging individuals it has been researched that the levels of Vitamin K are decreased with age as well. Therefore, it is crucial for people to start including Vitamin K rich foods into their diet at an early age. For older people that may be suffering from osteoporosis it may be necessary to start taking a Vitamin K supplement under a doctor’s supervision.
Vitamin K is also used to protect our bodies against oxidative cell damage. This means that we need Vitamin K to help ward off free radicals that come from having too much oxygen inside the body. With the antioxidants provided by the Vitamin K we can keep these free radicals from damaging the fats that are crucial parts of our cell membranes.
Some people are deficient in Vitamin K. Although it is rare, it can happen. If a person is deficient in Vitamin K, they will have longer bleeding times and even anemia. They can also have a shorter stature since lack of Vitamin K can prevent the bones from crystallizing and developing. Vitamin K is most commonly found in newborns since a baby is not born with the ability to produce Vitamin K2. Therefore, most babies are given a Vitamin K shot at the hospital after birth.
Other people who are likely to be deficient in Vitamin K are those who have a trouble absorbing fats. People who have celiac disease, chronic pancreatic, liver disease, chronic diarrhea, obstructive jaundice or have had intestinal bypass surgery. Also people who have used antibiotics for long periods of time, or have had poor kidney functioning can also have lowered Vitamin K levels.
For those people that have to take medications for heart disease it is important to discuss whether your medication may have an effect your Vitamin K levels. Some medications may decrease blood clotting which will block the use of Vitamin K in the body.
Vitamin K is found in many foods naturally. It is easy to consume enough Vitamin K as long as your diet contains several of these Vitamin K rich foods. Foods that include Vitamin K include parsley, spinach, chard, greens, romaine lettuce, brussel sprouts, basil, thyme, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, celery, kelp, green beans, cauliflower, tomatoes, bell peppers, pumpkin seeds, cow’s milk, soybeans, cranberries, pears, papaya, kidney beans, squash, avocado, and strawberries.
If you think that you may be in need of extra Vitamin K it is important to discuss this with your doctor. Vitamin K supplements are not for everyone and should only be taken under your doctor’s supervision. Also if you are taking Vitamin E or Vitamin A supplements it is very important to tell your doctor since both these vitamins can also interfere with Vitamin K levels. By eating a healthy well balanced diet you should be able to maintain most vitamin and nutrient levels.
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