Why Vitamin K is Essential in the Daily Diet
The body needs Vitamin K for the proper functioning of the circulatory system and other organs. While Vitamin K occurs in various forms, K1 and K2 are the most important ones for human beings. Although Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) differ in structure, they play identical roles in biochemical processes. Both are very important in the process of binding calcium ions to protein, which helps activate these proteins or regulate the calcium density.
Let’s take a closer look at the two types of Vitamin K.
Vitamin K1 is soluble in fats. It is resistant to moisture and air and disintegrates under the influence of sunlight. It is involved in the activation of proteins in the liver, which is necessary for proper blood coagulation.
Sources of Vitamin K1
Vitamin K1 occurs naturally in green plants, especially in leaves, where it plays an important role during photosynthesis. Vegetables, especially green vegetables, are a good source of Vitamin K1. Vitamin K1 can be found in:
- Brussels sprouts
How to ensure adequate Vitamin K1 in your diet
If you want to add Vitamin K1 to your diet, it is important to include dishes with green vegetables. However, that is not all. Eat foods that contain Vitamin K with olive oil or egg yolks. This combination will increase the vitamin’s absorbency. One serving of Brussels sprouts contains the proper dose of Vitamin K1.
Remember that all fat-soluble vitamins (Vitamin A, D, E, and K) are best absorbed if they are taken with fat.
Vitamin K2, like Vitamin K1, participates in the synthesis of protein coagulation factors, but that’s not all. Vitamin K2 is also responsible for healthy bones (activation of proteins that manage the process of placing calcium where the body needs it) and prevents calcification of atherosclerotic plaques, development of cardiovascular diseases, and the growth of cancer cells.
Sources of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 is mainly produced by the microorganisms of the jejunum and ileum of humans and animals (the MK-4 form of vitamin K2). But it also occurs in the following foods:
- milk products
- products obtained by the process of bacterial fermentation
- natto (soy fermentation product in which Bacillus subtilis natto bacteria are involved)
- miso (figure MK-7 of vitamin K2)
What is the difference in action between Vitamin K1 and K2?
We already know that all compounds included in the group of Vitamin K fulfill the same function in the human body. However, there are some differences between foods containing Vitamin K1 and K2 when it comes to the degree of assimilation.
Vitamin K1 present in plants is absorbed by the body at a much lower level (10% of the amount of food consumed) than Vitamin K2, which is absorbed almost entirely. One reason is that Vitamin K1 comes from plants, and they do not contain enough fat for the vitamin to dissolve and then be absorbed.
Also, Vitamin K1 remains in the bloodstream only for a short period – just a few hours – and is immediately transported to the liver while Vitamin K2 can circulate in the blood for up to a few days and can be better utilized by other body tissues.
Many studies show that Vitamin K2 is more effective than Vitamin K1 in reducing the tendency to bleed, lowering the risk of developing bone fractures, and lessening calcium deposits in the arteries.