A fat-soluble vitamin (which means that a person’s body stores the vitamin in the fat cells rather than expelling it as is the case with water-soluble vitamins), Vitamin K’s best known role in health is helping with coagulation (that is, forming blood clots).
How much Vitamin K is necessary for optimal health?
Because research has not allowed for applicable Recommended Dietary Allowances (RDAs), the Institute of Medicine’s Food and Nutrition Board advises the Adequate Intakes (AIs) of Vitamin K each day as outlined below depending on age and sex (and whether a woman is pregnant or nursing).
Infants from birth through six months old: 2 mcg (micrograms). Babies from seven months through twelve months of age: 2.5 mcg. Children from one year to three years: 30 mcg. Children from four years to eight years: 55 mcg. Children from nine years to thirteen years: 60 mcg. Teens ages fourteen through eighteen: 75 mcg. Adults older than nineteen: 90 mcg.
Vitamin K and Health
In addition to aiding with the process of blood clot formation, it has been suggested that Vitamin K plays a role in the maintenance of healthy bones in elderly patients. Some studies have found that can help reduce the incidence of bone fractures. In addition, it has become a rather common practice in the United States and a number of other countries to administer a dose of Vitamin K to infants within a short period after birth. This is done to improve their clotting abilities in order to reduce the chances of a rare possible complication of bleeding in the brain.
Ways to Obtain Vitamin K in Your Diet
A half cup of Brussels sprouts provides almost 200% of an adult’s Daily Value (DV) of Vitamin K. Other foods with more than 100% of an average adult’s DV include a cup of spinach (180%), turnip greens (170%), green leaf lettuce (125%), or broccoli (110%). You can also get Vitamin K from endive and romaine lettuces, mustard greens, asparagus, cauliflower, cabbage, and Swiss chard. Eggs, liver, fish, and some meats also contain varying amounts of this vitamin. Finally, the body also provides its own source; bacteria in a person’s GI tract produce Vitamin K.
Vitamin K Deficiency
It is unlikely that a person will develop a deficiency of this vitamin. Two instances in which it may be more likely are (a) if a person has a disorder of the digestive tract and is unable to properly absorb it and (b) if a person has been treated with antibiotics for an extended period of time. The primary symptoms of an inadequate intake of Vitamin K is bleeding and bruising more easily than before.
Vitamin K Toxicity
Although no adverse events have been linked to an excessive level of Vitamin K, people who have been prescribed Coumadin (a medication that reduces the blood’s tendency to coagulate, which is important for patients who have a history of strokes, heart disease, and some medical devices) should be cautious with their consumption of this vitamin.