Organic Vitamin K: Does Your Body Need It
Your body can’t clot properly without vitamin K, making it essential for life. The vitamin’s name comes from the Danish word “koagulation.” What it does is activate some proteins necessary for blood clotting, including one called thrombin. Your body also needs vitamin K for making the proteins that regulate calcium, an important mineral in your body, and it plays a role in bone formation.
Requirements for vitamin K are small. Government adequate intakes are a mere 120 micrograms per day for men and 90 mcg for women. It takes 1,000 micrograms to equal one gram, and 1,000 grams to equal one kilogram, which in turn is about 2.2 pounds. Vitamin K deficiencies are rare, since bacteria in your gut can create it from the raw materials in the food you eat. Vitamin K is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, so its absorption in your large and small intestines depends on having a minimum amount of dietary fat, bile and juices from the pancreas.
Chemicals That Can Impede Vitamin K
Certain drugs, including blood thinners such as coumaden, can interfere with what’s known as the Vitamin K cycle. This cycle is a series of chemical reactions in your body that let the vitamin react with calcium and with the proteins needed for proper blood clotting. Some herbal supplements, such as ginkgo biloba, can also interfere with vitamin K. If your doctor prescribes a blood thinner, you may be advised to vitamin K supplement and to avoid foods rich in the vitamin.
Organic Foods Rich in Vitamin K
Foods that are the richest in this vitamin are organic leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli, cabbage, turnip greens, and the dark-green colored lettuces. The amount of vitamin K varies in food sources such as dairy products, meats and eggs. Vitamin K is not destroyed by regular cooking methods or lost in cooking water, because it’s relatively stable. However, it is sensitive to light.
Specific Examples of Foods Rich in Vitamin K
One cup of raw organic spinach contains about three times your daily need for for vitamin K. A cup of iceberg lettuce has about twice as much, and a cup of raw broccoli has only a bit less. A cup of raw cabbage provides the daily requirement for adults and a cup of raw green beans provides about a third of your daily need for the vitamin. On the other hand, a cup of raw carrots or one medium baked potato would provide only a tiny amount vitamin K.
Too Little Or Too Much
Vitamin K deficiencies are rare because there are rich food sources and because bacteria in your gut can also synthesize the vitamin. But the major sign of a deficiency would be hemorrhage. In severe cases, this could cause anemia. Newborns are vulnerable to a deficiency in their first few days of life because they don’t yet have enough bacteria in their guts to make the vitamin. That’s why newborns often are given a dose of vitamin K at birth. Breast milk tends to be low in vitamin K. Research studies haven’t found adverse effects from too much vitamin K from eating foods that are rich in it. But a synthetic Vitamin K, also known as menadione or K3, is more potent than naturally occurring forms of the vitamin. In very large doses, it can produce jaundice in infants.