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Vitamin K - Not Just for Clotting Anymore

Posted Sep 29 2008 4:07pm

Vitamin K is mostly known for its role in blood clotting, and the fact that certain foods which contain high amounts of Vitamin K are supposed to be avoided when taking blood thinning medications.

But there is another important role that Vitamin K plays which is strengthening bones and helping our bodies to utilize calcium in bone formation, a key factor in preventing osteoporosis. Additionally, according to FoodandLife.com (mentioned in my last post about feeding broken bones) it is also important to eat foods containing Vitamin K when healing from fractures.

An even lesser known role is preventing oxidative cell damage from those pesky free radicals we face daily. So what foods can we eat that contain Vitamin K (assuming one is not taking blood thinners, or have been given the OK by a medical professional)?

One of my favorite sources for information on nutrition is World's Healthiest Foods, both a book and website by George Mateljan. Their article on Vitamin K has this to say:

"What can high-vitamin K foods do for you?

  • Allow your blood to clot normally
  • Help protect against osteoporosis
  • Prevent oxidative cell damage

What events can indicate a need for more high-vitamin K foods?

  • Excessive bruising and bleeding
  • Digestive system problems, especially malabsorption
  • Liver or gallbladder problems

Excellent sources of vitamin K include:spinach, Brussels sprouts,Swiss chard, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, kale and mustard greens. Very good sources include green peas and carrots [see the chart pictured above for more].

What is vitamin K?

Vitamin K1, also called phylloquinone, is the natural, plant form of this nutrient. Vitamin K2, also called menaquinone, is produced by the bacteria in animal and human intestines. Vitamin K3, also called menadione, is the synthetic version. The three forms are about equally helpful for blood clotting, but vitamin K1, the form that only occurs in green plants, is the best form for protecting against osteoporosis. A lot of research has been done using vitamin K3 even though this form is not allowed in nutritional supplements because of its history of serious adverse reactions."

The article contains lots of really interesting information, check out the rest of it here.

Most people do not have a deficiency in Vitamin K, but we need to eat foods that contain it in order to prevent some pretty serious problems, like bleeding to death or shrinking in height as we age, for instance. Since it is important to eat more veggies anyway, why not include a few of these leafy and bunchy greens to feed our blood and bones?

Health Nut Wannabe is trying to find easy ways to eat more of the right things and less of the not-as-right things, and still enjoy our food.

I try to find easy ways to eat the right things. www.HealthNutWannabe.com
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