Your body produces beneficial vitamin K. Actually, it is good bacteria in your digestive tract that do the producing, and if they are damaged you may need to supplement to get enough K.
Vitamin K has many benefits. It has been shown to reduce internal inflammation, reduce osteoporosis, reduce the risk of heart disease, and reduce arthritis. That makes it quite important to your good health.
Warning: Vitamin K can interfere with blood thinners (warfarin and its ilk) that you may be taking. We are told that warfarin does its work by inhibiting vitamin K recycling, thereby thinning the blood, but also causing soft tissue calcification. If you take a blood thinner, talk with your healthcare provider.
Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
Until recently, vitamin K was known mainly for helping blood clot after a nick or cut. Now you can add it to the list of things that lower the risk of osteoarthritis In a study of older adults, those who had the most K in their blood were the least likely to have joint damage in their hands, and their knees got some protection, too.
Reduce internal inflammation
Know what’s super bad for your body? Inflammation. It’s thought to be at the core of problems like heart disease and heart attacks.
Inflammation is your body’s response to injury or infection. And when it occurs in your blood vessels, inflammation can be a sign of bad things to come — like ruptured arterial plaques, clot formation, heart attack, and stroke. More and more research is linking high vitamin K intake to lower body wide inflammation.
Reduce osteoporosis and heart disease
One would think that vitamin K would increase the risk for heart disease because of its ability to activate blood clotting factors. However, the paradox is that it protects plaque in the arteries from calcifying and becoming hard, thereby reducing the risk of heart disease.
is also important for activating proteins which are involved in the mineralization of bone matrix, meaning stronger bones. Apparently if bone density is low, the calcification of our arteries is high. However, if bone mineral density is low, calcification of the arteries is typically high.
“K” Can keep your hands arthritis free
The vitamin K in cabbage, spinach, Swiss chard, and other leafy greens may help keep your hands arthritis-free — all the better for keyboarding, card dealing, piano playing, or knitting.
Try shredding your favorite leafy greens (about 4 cups) in a food processor, then toss with ¼ cup low-fat mayo, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Feeds you and three favorite friends.
Recommended daily dosage
The United States Department of Agriculture recommendation is at least 90 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K a day for women and 120 mcg for men.
Enter leafy greens. Good choices: just about anything leafy and green — from cabbage, spinach and kale to collards and turnip greens.
Try shredding your favorite leafy greens (about 4 cups) in a food processor, then toss with ¼ cup low-fat mayo, 1 teaspoon vinegar, 1 teaspoon honey, and a pinch of salt and pepper. It feeds you and three favorite friends.
Not a slaw lover? A cup of asparagus has 144 mcg; a cup of broccoli, 93 mcg. Bored with salads? The trick to getting more greens — and more vitamin K — into your diet may be learning to use them more creatively. Start with something simple but different, like this Basic Sauteed Kale recipe from EatingWell.com
Then, move on to these K-rich greens recipes that will have you feeling like a world traveler:
- Simmer kale with chickpeas and exotic spices for this vegetarian Indian dish: Indian-Spiced Kale and Chickpeas.
- Slip collard greens into your red sauces, like with this unique Italian dish: Pasta with Greens and Tomato Sauce.
- Mix spinach with butternut squash and beans for this Brazilian soup: Amazon Bean Soup with Winter Squash and Greens.
A number of good sources of vitamin K are listed in the table below along with their vitamin K content in micrograms (mcg).
Food — Serving — Vitamin K (mcg)
Kale, raw — 1 cup (chopped) — 547
Swiss chard, raw — 1 cup — 299
Parsley, raw — 1/4 cup — 246
Broccoli, cooked — 1 cup (chopped) — 220
Spinach, raw — 1 cup — 145
Watercress, raw — 1 cup (chopped) — 85
Leaf lettuce (green), raw — 1 cup (shredded) — 62.5
Soybean oil 1 Tablespoon 25.0
Canola oil 1 Tablespoon 16.6
Olive oil 1 Tablespoon 8.1
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