Pic Credit: loonylabs.org
Many times as a kid, you might have fallen down and got your knees scraped. The blood would come out and slowly, over the days, the wound would heal. Basically, it was your system’s own natural way of healing your scratches by congealing our blood from liquid to gel form, which, is also known as the process of “coagulation”.
Have you heard about friends or family, that their blood doesn’t clot easily? Or, that even a slight scratch might remain “fresh” for a longer time. It is due to the delaying in blood clotting. Blood clots, a very simple biological procedure, which you studied in middle school biology, are responsible for healing the wounds. They form due to the presence of Vitamin K, in the absence of which you may bleed to death in serious injuries.
What is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K includes phylloquinone (Vitamin K1) and menaquinone (Vitamin K2). In a layman’s words, it is basically a vitamin that is found in abundance in green leaves and is essential for the blood clotting process. As kids you may not have been too fond of consuming green veggies, no matter how much your mom coaxed or threatened you to have those. Sigh! But then, they say, that health is wealth.
Why you should take Vitamin K? Can the deficiency be harmful?
It is a very good question, given the fact, how we all go “ewww” at the very mention of consuming leafy veggies (unless from “Subway”). 🙂 Vitamin K helps in blood clot, preventing excess bleeding. This is the first reason why we should include Vitamin K in our diet. Did you know that newborns are injected with Vitamin K? Ever wonder why? The reason is that newborns are more prone to Vitamin K deficiency than adults.
Deficiency of Vitamin K can lead to uncontrolled bleeding, that much is obvious now. However, there are certain other cases that pose a higher threat of Vitamin K deficiency.
- Have a disease that affects absorption in the digestive tract, such as Crohn's disease or active celiac disease
- Take drugs that interfere with Vitamin K absorption
- Being malnourished
- High alcohol consumption
In these aforementioned cases, your doctor might suggest Vitamin K supplements.
How much Vitamin K should you get?
This is a very important thing to keep in mind. We have always been told, no matter how nutritious something might be, in excess, it might have effects we may not like. Not to forget that the excess can completely neutralize the positives that we gained from it earlier. Same is the case with Vitamin K. So, I am presenting to you, the quantity per day of Vitamin K, that different people should consume-
|Group (years)||Adequate Intake|
|Children 0-6 months||2.0 micrograms/day|
|Children 7-12 months||2.5 micrograms/day|
|Children 1-3||30 micrograms/day|
|Children 4-8||55 micrograms/day|
|Children 9-13||60 micrograms/day|
|Girls 14-18||75 micrograms/day|
|Women 19 and up||90 micrograms/day|
|Women, pregnant or breastfeeding (19-50)Women, pregnantor breastfeeding(less than 19)||90 micrograms/day75 micrograms/day|
|Boys 14-18||75 micrograms/day|
|Men 19 and up||120 micrograms/day|
What are the foods that can provide a healthy dose of Vitamin K?
Now comes the main part. We have read the benefits of Vitamin K, and what harms the deficiency might cause. Now let us have a quick peek at the foods that are rich in it.
(The ones in bold are the main and best sources, the rest are other alternatives).
- Herbs : Dried Basil, Dried Sage & Dried Thyme, Fresh Parsley, Dried Coriander (Cilantro) & Dried Parsley, Dried Marjoram, Fresh Basil and Fresh Chives.
- Green, Leafy Vegetables: Kale (cooked), Frozen Kale, Frozen Spinach, Mustard Greens, Spinach, Collards, Beet Greens, Swiss Chard, Turnip Greens, Dandelion Greens and Broccoli Raab.
- Salad Vegetable: Spring Onions / Scallions, Garden Cress, Endive, Radicchio, Chicory Greens, Watercress, Cos, Lettuce, Green Lettuce, Red Lettuce, Celery, Arugula, Iceberg Lettuce & Cucumber.
- Brassica Vegetables: Brussels Sprouts (cooked), Broccoli, Cabbage, Frozen Broccoli, Chinese Broccoli, Red Cabbage, Pak Choi, Savoy Cabbage, raw and Cauliflower.
- Hot Spices: Chili Powder, Curry Powder & Paprika and Cayenne Pepper.
- Other Vegetable: Asparagus (cooked), Frozen Asparagus, Leeks, cooked, Okra, cooked and Fennel, raw.
- Pickles: Cucumber (sweet), Dill Pickle, Sour Pickle and Sweet Pickle Relish per tablespoon.
- Soybeans (cooked), Raw Soybeans and Roasted Soybeans.
- Vegetable Oils: Olive Oil, Soybean, Canola (Rapeseed) and Sesame Oil.
- Dried Fruit – Prunes, Blueberries, Pears, Peaches, Figs and Currants.
Phew! Quite a long list, isn’t it? But, on the good part, this list gives a long list of alternatives of our own choice that we can consume for our healthy dosage of Vitamin K.
We should always take the good in things, with a pinch of salt. Though the side effects in Vitamin K dosages are rare, but again, no matter how small, these cannot and should not be ignored. I am sure, you would agree too, after having a look at these.
Many drugs can interfere with the effects of Vitamin K. They include antacids, blood thinners, antibiotics, aspirin, and drugs for cancer, seizures, high cholesterol and other conditions. People using medications for heart problems, clotting disorders, or other conditions may need to watch their diets closely to control the amount of Vitamin K they take in. They should not use Vitamin K supplements unless advised to do so by their health care provider.
Before I conclude, all I can say is that though Vitamin K is very essential and beneficial to us. It should only be taken as a supplement, if your doctor prescribes it, else not, if you want to escape the side effects. Be assured, your normal daily diet contains sufficient dosage of Vitamin K.