All About Vitamin K

You don’t hear about vitamin K as often as you do other vitamins, but it is an important one to understand. Vitamin K is actually a small group of fat-soluble vitamins that make our bodies able to clot blood and help to regulate the calcium level. (Fat-soluble vitamins are those that the body stores in fat tissue.)

Vitamin K intake level is most important to people who take medications like warfarin (Coumadin,) which are often prescribed for heart conditions. If you’re taking one of these drugs, your doctor will ask you monitor your vitamin K intake and not to change it drastically either way. If you eat a spinach salad every day or two for lunch, you don’t want to suddenly stop doing that!

Why is that?

Drugs like warfarin are designed to thin your blood, making it less likely to clot. This can be beneficial in preventing strokes in people who are susceptible to them. But the anti-clotting means that the drugs are working in direct opposition to vitamin K, which encourages blood clotting so that wounds will heal more quickly. So, it’s important that the balance of the two be kept in check and that intake of vitamin K not swing dramatically in either direction. Patients used to be told to avoid vitamin K foods altogether if they are taking warfarin, but we now realize that intake is OK, and beneficial, as long as the amount consumed is consistent on a daily and weekly basis.

What foods contain vitamin K?

Plant foods, like kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, chard and asparagus. Green tea is also a source. For most people – those who do not take warfarin – adequate intake is important to support blood clotting, as well as bone metabolism. Other studies show that vitamin K main sustain lower blood pressure, by preventing blood build-up in the arteries. This is something that happens naturally as we age. Additionally, increased blood levels of vitamin K have been linked with improved episodic memory in older adults.

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