Health Habits: Vitamin K
Vitamin K is the fourth and final fat-soluble vitamin in this series of articles. It exists in two forms, phylloquinone, and menaquinones. Phylloquinone is found predominantly in leafy greens, vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and cabbage, or in fish, liver, eggs, meat, and cereals (in smaller amounts). The large intestine is the site of bacterial synthesis, which produces Menaquinones. Vitamin K functions to aid in the synthesis of blood clotting factors. It does not make the blood clot, but it contributes to the production of proteins needed for blood clotting and bone building. Vitamin K deficiency and toxicity are rare. It is found throughout the body and gets removed from the body quickly through urine or feces.
Although rare, deficiencies of vitamin K can occur in newborns, those on antibiotics, and people with malabsorption issues. Newborn stores of vitamin K are usually low due to their intestinal tracts not having the bacteria to make vitamin K. The risk of hemorrhage is increased, which explains the vitamin K shots within the first 6 hours of birth. For those on long-term antibiotics, the risk of vitamin K deficiency is higher. Antibiotics kill good and bad bacteria in the gut, severely reducing the production of vitamin K in the large intestine. In other cases where an individual has malabsorption issues, deficiency occurs. The most common signs of vitamin K deficiency are delayed clotting times, bleeding, hemorrhaging, and osteoporosis.
In the Midwest, the Autumn harvest brings the perfect group of vegetables to help us with our vitamin K intake. Broccoli, celery, cucumbers, arugula, kale, lettuce, spinach, and zucchini are easy to find and add to our plates. Try the combinations listed below:
1. Arugula & Kale Salad: mix equal amounts of arugula and kale, shaved parmesan cheese, toasted pine nuts, avocado, olive oil, lemon juice, and a little salt & pepper. The lemon juice provides vitamin C, which helps absorb non-heme iron from the greens. The healthy fats from olive oil and avocado help with the absorption of vitamin K ( a fat-soluble vitamin).
2. Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Broccoli: Combine these two Brassicas in a bowl and toss with olive oil and a little sea salt, then roast in the oven at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes. Find and make a Dijon lemon dressing to drizzle over arugula and spinach with your roasted vegetables.
3. : Use a mandolin to make cucumber and zucchini ribbons. Add chopped jalapenos or cilantro and toss it with fresh lime juice, olive oil, and salt & pepper. Get creative and add grilled corn kernels or tomatoes.
4. Sesame Chard & Celery Slaw: Chop celery, swiss chard, and red cabbage. Toss the vegetables in your favorite dressing and don’t forget to add some citrus or healthy fats for increased absorption of nutrients.
This week’s health habit: Try one of the listed combinations of vitamin K salads or create your own.
Ods.od.nih.gov. 2020. Office Of Dietary Supplements - Vitamin K. [online] Available at: <https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/> [Accessed 3 October 2020].