Compared to other vitamins, vitamin K is least known. It is actually known as the “forgotten vitamin” because its benefits are often overlooked. Because of this, vitamin K deficiency, which is a serious problem, is also neglected. Reasons why your levels may be insufficient are:
• Eating less of vitamin K rich foods • Having certain disorders that disrupt the nutrient’s absorption in the body • Having a liver condition that can interfere with vitamin K storage • Taking medications, such as antibiotics, anticoagulants, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and aspirin (which blocks vitamin absorption)
The logical step to take is to increase your levels. There are two ways to do it: supplementation and consumption of dietary sources abundant in vitamin K. But before anything else, you must know the different types of vitamin K.
1. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) – This type of vitamin K is found in plants like green leafy vegetables 2. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) – K2 is produced by the bacterial strains that line up your gastrointestinal tract. 3. Vitamin K3 (menadione) – This is a synthetic variant of vitamin K and is not recommended by experts.
Vitamin K1 by Greens: Food Sources of Vitamin K1
Many newborn babies are deficient in this type of vitamin K. However, research shows that oral supplementation can compensate for this. Low doses of this vitamin K variant can be found in breast milk. However, mothers can only give their babies sufficient levels if their own are optimized. Mothers, as well as other people, can optimize their vitamin K levels by consuming vitamin K1 foods or supplements. Foods rich in this vitamin include:
1. Green leafy vegetables – Green leafy vegetables contain chlorophyll. This contains vitamin K1. This means that the darker the color of the vegetables, the higher its vitamin K1 content is. Examples of vegetables rich in vitamin K1 are collard greens, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, salad greens, and spinach.
2. Oil – Certain oils contain vitamin K. An example of this is olive oil.
3. Green tea – Drinking tea made from dried leaves can give you vitamin K1. However, brewing these leaves can reduce vitamin K1 quantities. Research shows that your body absorbs only small amounts of vitamin K1 from oral sources. This can be compensated by taking an additional high-quality supplement.
Vitamin K2 by Culture: Cultured Foods Rich in Vitamin K2
As mentioned before, vitamin K2 is produced by your gut’s microflora. However, it is not absorbed well by your body and escapes through your stool. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient, and one way to improve the absorbability of all forms of vitamin K is by consuming more dietary fat. Vitamin K2 has different forms. The most popular are MK4 and MK7. Experts do not recommend the first as it is synthetic and only has a half-life of one hour. On the other hand, MK7 can last three days inside the body. Vitamin K2 is abundant in fermented foods, such as:
1. Natto – Natto is a Japanese delicacy made of fermented soybean. It is rich in vitamin K2 and a nutrient called nattokinase. Apart from these, natto is also a good source of probiotics or good bacteria. Oftentimes, natto is served as a side dish. Some people do not enjoy the strong taste, odor, and texture of natto. Instead, they would add this as an ingredient in certain dishes. Rather than buying, you can create your own natto at home.
2. Cheese – Only fermented cheeses have vitamin K2. Avoid consuming processed cheeses as these are pasteurized and are devoid of nutrients. Curd cheese and blue cheese are good sources of vitamin K2. Compared to natto, cultured cheeses are more palatable but contain less vitamin K2. If you are going to take a vitamin K2 supplement, make sure that it’s allergen-free and GMO-free. It should also contain vitamin K2 obtained from a stable fermentation process.
Mishka Thomas is a part-time health blogger. More specifically, she writes about nutrition. Her recent posts are a series of articles on different vitamins and minerals, with vitamin K2 as her most recent topic. She hopes to inform readers about these nutrients to help them avoid deficiencies.