Team player: benefits of vitamin K and how to take it
Vitamin K can provide great benefits to the body. But for this it needs to be correctly combined with other elements.
In the last decade, doctors and scientists are increasingly talking about the benefits of vitamin K. Especially when it comes to patients suffering from frequent bone fractures, as well as bleeding and slow-healing wounds. However, for maximum effectiveness, it is recommended to take it only in combination with other vitamins and minerals.
Loading ad block…
As Nadezhda Podkorytova, an Invitro expert, said, vitamin K is fat-soluble and is responsible for many functions in the body. “The main one is maintaining a normal hemostasis system, that is, blood clotting,” she explains. “Impairment in the functioning of this system leads to a tendency to thrombosis or, conversely, bleeding even with small cuts. Vitamin K also helps the body absorb the required amount of calcium “and is responsible for ensuring that this macroelement does not accumulate around the vessels, thereby protecting the cardiovascular system from atherosclerosis. Vitamin K is also important for the nervous system: it is involved in the production of sphingolipids, which are responsible for the transmission of nerve impulses from one cell to another.”
In addition, research conducted by researchers at the American University UW–Green Bay showed that vitamin K has a positive effect on bone mineral density and reduces the risk of fractures. According to Nadezhda Podkorytova, this is explained by the fact that it is involved in the synthesis of osteocalcin, which is involved in the process of bone tissue formation.
“This is why symptoms of vitamin K deficiency often manifest as frequent bone fractures,” explains Ekaterina Mikhienko, general practitioner at Lahta Clinic. In particular, it has been proven that a deficiency of this vitamin leads to an increased risk of hip fracture – a classic case of osteoporosis.
According to Ekaterina Mikhienko, a lack of vitamin can also be signaled by nosebleeds, heavy menstruation, bleeding gums, poorly healing wounds, subcutaneous hemorrhages and anemia, which can cause weakness and fatigue.
The truth is in the food
In general, vitamin K deficiency is uncommon these days. However, as Ekaterina Mikhienko said, it may be caused by some chronic diseases. For example, enteritis and enterocolitis, various disorders of absorption of food nutrients through the gastrointestinal tract and hepatitis of various etiologies. “Long-term use of antibiotics that suppress intestinal microflora, anticoagulants and the drug Warfarin – drugs that are antagonists of this vitamin – can also lead to a deficiency,” says Ekaterina Mikhienko.
According to Daria Kuleshova, head of the inpatient department of the My Medical Center clinic on Malaya Konyushennaya, the body’s need for vitamin K should first of all be satisfied through the correct selection of products.
“A healthy diet for getting vitamin K should include vegetables, fruits or fruit juices, whole grains, low-fat milk, yogurt, cheese and oils, lean meats, poultry, eggs, seafood, beans, nuts, seeds, soy products,” lists she.
However, there are some peculiarities here too. Galina Eliseeva, Deputy Chief Physician for Management of the branch of the Capital Policy Medical Center LLC – Nevskaya Clinic on Komendantsky, recalls that vitamin K exists in three structure variants: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), K2 (menaquinone) and K3 ( menadione). “In addition to the differences in the structure of the molecule, phylloquinone and menaquinone differ in the source of entry into the body,” explains the specialist.
According to her, vitamin K1 is indeed found in large quantities in green vegetables – such as Brussels sprouts and cabbage, lettuce, spinach and parsley, as well as in vegetable oils – olive and sunflower. But as for vitamin K2, it is synthesized in the intestines with the help of microflora and does not come from the outside.
Nadezhda Podkorytova is convinced that you should not specifically include dietary supplements in your diet to obtain vitamin K. However, this applies only to monovariants – when the dietary supplement contains only one. According to Galina Eliseeva, it is quite acceptable to take it as part of complex nutritional supplements, since vitamin K, along with vitamin D, calcium and magnesium, are involved in the synthesis of bone tissue.
“Since deficiency can reduce bone mineral density and contribute to the development of osteoporosis, vitamin K is often added to vitamin D and calcium supplements,” adds Daria Kuleshova.
Vitamin K is now also present in most multivitamin supplements at levels of less than 75% of the daily value, she said. Dietary supplements, as a rule, contain a much larger dose and provide 5000% of the daily value.
“The health risks from an excess of vitamin K have not been established due to its low toxicity,” the specialist comments on this fact.
An excess of vitamin K is also rare because it is quickly eliminated from the body. Data from various studies suggest that about 20% is removed in the urine and from 40 to 50% in the feces using bile.
However, some people still have elevated levels of vitamin K.
According to Galina Eliseeva, the reasons for this condition may be more likely to be a high content of green vegetables and fats in the diet, rather than taking multivitamins or complex nutritional supplements. Also, an excess of the vitamin in the body can result from excess triglycerides in the blood due to alcohol consumption, oral contraceptives, the use of hypothiazide and beta blockers, as well as diseases such as diabetes and chronic renal failure.
Despite this, you should not independently prescribe multivitamins and dietary supplements containing vitamin K (for example, to strengthen bone tissue). It is necessary, at a minimum, to consult with your doctor, and, at a maximum, to conduct densitometry (determining bone mineral density). And make a decision about the need for additional vitamin K intake based on the results of these studies and consultations. In case of frequent bleeding, it is recommended to do a general blood test, as well as a coagulogram.
Loading ad block…