You may have come across information about Vitamin K if you’ve been looking at joint supplements, or even heart supplements, but despite being known as one of the four fat soluble vitamins (along with A, D and E), it can be an easy vitamin to forget about.
Why do I need it?
Vitamin K plays a vital role in blood clotting, and by extension general heart health. Newborn babies are given vitamin K to prevent a rare blood clotting disorder. People with blood clotting disorders or on certain medications for blood health, might chat about vitamin K with their doctors. There is also research into the potential role vitamin K plays in inhibiting calcification of arteries and through interacting with calcium placement, potentially impacting bone health positively. The NHS recommends 1mcg per kg of body weight of vitamin K to maintain healthy levels.
Vitamin K is sometimes separated into K1 and K2, called Phylloquinone and Menoquinone respectively, as they have some different functions, and are found in different foods from one another. In order to get both from our diets we need to look at a broad range of foods. Like most vitamins, deficiency in vitamin K can occur when a diet isn’t broad enough, or absorption is impaired. Vitamin K is created by bacteria within the digestive system, so, naturally, gut health impacts how much a person can create and absorb.
Where can I get it?
Foods that are high in K1 are typically plant based, and because it’s created by bacteria, fermented. These include: Natto (fermented soy), fermented vegetables, but also green leafy vegetables such as broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts.
Foods high in K2 are typically from animal products, such as liver, good quality red meat, egg yolks, but also cheese, kefir and some yoghurts
There are supplements that now include vitamin K1 or K2 within them, and these are typically, and understandably, based on joint and/or heart health. For example, Joint Factor by One Nutrition for bone and joint health, or Cardio 40+ by Cleanmarine aimed at heart health. As research into this vitamin continues, it is not unlikely that we will see more of this special vitamin.