Nutrition, Health & Wellness

Bone Health, Heart Health, and More: The Vitamin K Benefits You Should Know

When it comes to vitamins, most people are familiar with the benefits of vitamins A, C, D, and E. But did you know there are some incredible ways vitamin k benefits your health as well?

Believe it or not, vitamin K benefits your bones, heart, blood sugar, and even cellular health. And it’s readily available in many of the plant-based foods you already know and love.

So, let’s take a closer look at this powerful vitamin so you can take advantage of its many health benefits.

 

All About Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it’s mainly metabolized in your liver. It’s necessary for your blood to be able to clot and prevent hemorrhaging.

In fact, the “K” in vitamin K refers to the German word “Koagulation,” which refers to the solidification of blood. [1]

Interestingly, there are two types of vitamin K: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Here’s what you need to know about each.

Vitamin K1 is also known as phylloquinone and makes up about 75 percent of the vitamin K people consume. It’s the part of vitamin K that helps prevent hemorrhaging by activating the proteins responsible for blood clotting.

Food sources of vitamin K1 include leafy greens such as spinach and kale as well as cruciferous vegetables such as Brussels sprouts and broccoli.

Meanwhile, vitamin K2, also known as menaquinones, makes up about 25 percent of the vitamin K people consume. [2]

It’s responsible for regulating calcium in your body by supporting the calcium in your bones and also preventing calcium buildup in your blood vessels and kidneys. [3]

Food sources of vitamin K2 include natto (fermented soy), sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha, and some animal-based products such as egg yolks, chicken, and dairy.

Just keep in mind that plant-based options are always preferable to animal-based foods since they’re more easily digested and less likely to cause inflammation.

Amazingly, the good bacteria in your gut also synthesizes and activates vitamin K2 in your body—and that’s why it’s so important to maintain the good bacteria in your gut!

In fact, studies have shown that vitamin K2 synthesized by gut bacteria plays a “significant role in contributing to vitamin K requirements.” [4] This is one reason why I recommend taking a quality probiotic on a daily basis.

Now that you know a bit more about vitamin K, let’s take a look at some of the top ways vitamin K benefits your health.

Top 4 Vitamin K Benefits

Here are four of the top vitamin k benefits you can expect from eating more vitamin k-rich foods.

1. Shown to reduce bone fractures by up to 50 percent

One of the most amazing and well-known vitamin K benefits is its ability to help reduce bone fractures by supporting bone health.

In fact, researchers found that when 440 postmenopausal women with osteopenia took 5 mg of vitamin K1 each day for two years, they reduced their chances of experiencing clinical fractures by more than 50 percent! [5]

Additionally, the researchers discovered that the vitamin K benefits to bone health weren’t due to increasing bone mineral density, as previously assumed. Instead, the vitamin K1 was found to increase bone strength.

Likewise, a meta-analysis confirmed that taking 45 mg per day of vitamin K2 reduced hip fractures by 77 percent, vertebral fractures by 60 percent, and non-vertebral fractures by 81 percent! [6]

2. Contains anti-cancer properties

Another one of the incredible vitamin K benefits is the fact that it’s known to contain anti-cancer properties.

Interestingly, in the same study above where participants took 5 mg of vitamin K1 each day for two years, researchers found that those who took the supplement experienced an astonishing 75 percent reduction in cancer incidence than those who took a placebo! [7]

Another study published in 2010 found that when people consumed vitamin K2 consistently over a period of 10 years, they had a reduced risk of developing cancer. Moreover, if they did develop cancer, they were less likely to develop fatal cancer. [8]

3. Supports cardiovascular health

Vitamin K benefits extend to supporting heart health as well. And you can credit this benefit to the fact that a protein in your body that plays a role in preventing vascular calcification is actually dependent on vitamin K for optimal functioning!

And research shows just how much vitamin K matters for heart health! According to a study on more than 560 postmenopausal women, regularly consuming vitamin K2 was associated with a 30 percent decrease in coronary calcification. [9]

Meanwhile, another study on 4,807 men and women aged 55 and over revealed that consuming 21.6 mcg or more of vitamin K2 each day reduced participants’ risk of coronary heart disease death by up to 57 percent! [10]

An interesting note here is that taking probiotics is also linked to a reduced risk of heart disease. [11] And since we know that probiotics synthesize and activate vitamin K2, it makes sense that it’s all connected, right?

4. May help improve insulin sensitivity

Finally, another one of the great vitamin K benefits is its effect on blood sugar levels and insulin sensitivity.

According to one study, consuming vitamin K1-rich foods significantly reduced the progression of insulin resistance in older men. [12]

Additionally, a 2011 study revealed that when young men (ages 24 to 31) supplemented with vitamin K2, insulin sensitivity was significantly increased. The researchers stated that this effect was achieved due to vitamin K’s known ability to help regulate glucose metabolism in the body. [13]

 

Vitamin k benefits - Dr. Pingel

 

As you can see, vitamin K benefits your body in many ways. And while you can supplement with this incredible vitamin, more often than not, studies have shown that you can reap its incredible benefits simply by including some of the delicious and nutritious foods rich in vitamin K.

 

Key Takeaways

  • There are some incredible ways vitamin k benefits your health. And it’s readily available in many of the plant-based foods you already know and love.
  • There are two types of vitamin K: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 helps prevent hemorrhaging by activating the proteins responsible for blood clotting while vitamin K2 helps to regulate calcium in your body.
  • Some of the top vitamin K benefits include: helping to reduce bone fractures by 50 percent, containing anti-cancer properties, supporting heart health, and helping to improve insulin sensitivity.

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