Updated: Nov 20, 2022
Vitamin K is used to describe a group of fat-soluble molecules called quinones that help our body form clotting factors.
K1 - Phylloquinones
K2 - Menaquinones
K3 - Menadione
Animals cannot make Vitamin K and rely on bacteria and plants to produce it for many essential functions like blood clotting and bone formation. K1 is found in plants like leafy greens, broccoli, and brussels sprouts. K2 is usually produced by bacteria and can be found in fermented foods like kimchi, kefir, and natto. K2 is also found in eggs, butter, and cheese (from grass-fed cows).
Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting. It is also used for transportation of a thyroid hormone called thyroxine (otherwise known as T4), helps with bone mineralization, and inhibits calcification of blood vessels (also known as hardening of the arteries). It is important to have vitamin K2 with a vitamin D3 supplement so that calcium transported by vitamin D is absorbed into the bones and not used to form calcium deposits in the arteries.
Vitamin K deficiency can be found in people on very low-fat diets. Since vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, it needs dietary fat to be absorbed. It’s a good idea to pair your leafy greens with a healthy fat like olive oil or avocado oil to enhance the absorption of the fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin K. Other fat-soluble vitamins include Vitamins A, D, and E.
Taking some blood thinners (like warfarin) can deplete vitamin K and increase the risk for osteoporosis. Remember that vitamin K works with vitamin D to make sure calcium is routed to the bones instead of making plaques in our arteries. If there is a depletion or deficiency of vitamin K, less calcium is used to form strong bones and may increase the risk for osteoporosis.
Antibiotics deplete vitamin K because the bacteria in our gut help to make our vitamin K and antibiotics can kill both good and bad bacteria. It's a good idea to take a probiotic to replenish good bacteria in the gut when taking antibiotics. There is also, a medication class used to reduce cholesterol and treat diarrhea called bile acid sequestrants (which include cholestyramine, colestipol, and colesevelam) that can block absorption of many different nutrients, including vitamin K. Watch out for mineral oil as a laxative, too! It can take the fat-soluble vitamins with it (Vitamins A, D, E, and K).
So, take care of your gut health with the right foods and a probiotic, take vitamin D3 with K2, and eat your greens with a healthy fat like olive oil or avocado oil!
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