Vitamin K and Health

No, Covid isn’t the only think worth talking about, at least regarding health.

Apparently, we are still learning about the benefits of K. What we’ve established is that:

Vitamin K functions as a coenzyme for vitamin K-dependent carboxylase, an enzyme required for the synthesis of proteins involved in hemostasis (blood clotting) and bone metabolism, and other diverse physiological functions .

NIH(1)

It’s routine for patients with clotting issues to receive injections of vitamin K prior to any surgical procedure. K is also routinely administered to newborns.

Vitamin K is also associated with improved bone density, reduced risk or fracture, and reduced risk of osteoporosis.

Low levels of K are associated with vascular calcification, one of the risk factors for heart disease.

What’s new is animal research that suggests that K can serve to reduce the risk of dementia and preserve brain function as people age.(2)

The problem with K is that the body doesn’t store it. Most vitamin K is eliminated through urine or defecation. That means that the body needs a regular intake to maintain adequate levels.

The primary sources of K are green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, broccoli, turnip greens or collard greens. K can also be taken as a supplement.

There are three conditions that might require limitations on the intake of K, and certainly merit a discussion with your doctor:

  • If you have liver disease
  • If you have kidney disease
  • If you are taking a medication to reduce blood clotting, such as warfarin.

People who have undergone weight loss surgery or who have certain gastrointestinal disorders (e.g., cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and short bowel syndrome) may have trouble absorbing K from food. These people will require supplements.

Finally, it’s worth noting that a screen for K levels isn’t routine in physical exams. Patients with known clotting issues will get the test, others may not unless they ask for it. Your health insurance shouldn’t have a problem with the test if the doctor requests it. (Of course, “should” is the least meaningful word in the English language.)

Sources:

  1. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/vitamin-k-may-be-helpful-for-people-at-risk-of-dementia?utm_source=Sailthru%20Email&utm_medium=Email&utm_campaign=MNT%20Daily%20News&utm_content=2022-04-13&apid=32823411&rvid=1d7fc4fbc41da35ed0d96c59f74ddf89434ecc148ef542006495aeba1450e27c#Vitamin-K-quick-facts
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK551578/
  4. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7823718/
  5. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-983/vitamin-k

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