Vitamin K
The content of the article

The international name is 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone, menaquinone, phylloquinone.

a brief description of

This fat-soluble vitamin is essential for the function of several proteins that are involved in blood clotting. In addition, vitamin K helps our body to maintain health and.

History of discovery

Vitamin K was discovered by accident in 1929 during experiments on the metabolism of sterols, and was immediately associated with blood clotting. In the next decade, the main vitamins of the K group, phylloquinone and menahinon were highlighted and fully characterized. In the early 1940s, the first vitamin K antagonists were discovered and crystallized with one of its derivatives, warfarin, which is still widely used in modern clinical settings.

However, significant progress in our understanding of the mechanisms of action of vitamin K occurred in the 1970s with the discovery of γ-carboxyglutamic acid (Gla), a new amino acid common to all vitamin K proteins.This discovery not only served as a basis for understanding early findings about prothrombin, but also led to the discovery of vitamin K-dependent proteins (VKP), not involved in hemostasis. The 1970s also marked an important breakthrough in our understanding of the vitamin K cycle. The 1990s and 2000s were marked by important epidemiological and interventional studies that focused on the translational effects of vitamin K, especially in bone and cardiovascular diseases.

Vitamin K rich foods

Indicated approximate availability in 100 g of product:

Curly cabbage389.6 μg
Goose liver369 μg
Coriander is fresh310 μg
+ 20 more foods rich in vitamin K (the amount of μg in 100 g of the product is indicated):
beef liver106Kiwi40.3Iceberg lettuce24.1Cucumber16.4
Broccoli (fresh)101.6Chicken meat35.7Avocado21Dried date15.6
White cabbage76Cashew34.1Blueberries19.8Grapes14.6
Black Eyed Peas43prunes26.1Blueberry19.3Carrots13,2
Asparagus41.6Green pea24.8Garnet16.4Red currant11

Daily need for vitamin

To date, there is little data on what the body’s daily requirement for vitamin K is. The European Food Committee recommends 1 mcg of vitamin K per kg of body weight per day. In some European countries – Germany, Austria and Switzerland – it is recommended to take 1 mcg of vitamin per day for men and 70 kg for women. The American Nutrition Board approved the following vitamin K requirements in 60:

AgeMen (mcg / day):Women (mcg / day):
0-6 months2,02,0
7-12 months2,52,5
1-3 years3030
4-8 years5555
9-13 years6060
14-18 years7575
19 years and older12090
Pregnancy, 18 years old and younger75
Pregnancy, 19 years and older90
Nursing, 18 years old and younger75
Nursing, 19 years and older90

The need for vitamin increases:

  • in newborns: Due to poor transmission of vitamin K through the placenta, babies are often born with low levels of vitamin K in the body. This is quite dangerous, as the newborn may experience bleeding, which is sometimes fatal. Therefore, pediatricians recommend administering vitamin K intramuscularly after birth. Strictly on the recommendation and under the supervision of the attending physician.
  • people with gastrointestinal problems and poor digestibility.
  • when taking antibiotics: Antibiotics can destroy bacteria that help absorb vitamin K.

Chemical and physical properties

Vitamin K is a common name for a whole family of compounds with the general chemical structure of 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone. It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is naturally present in some foods and is available as a dietary supplement. These compounds include phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and a series of menaquinones (vitamin K2). Phylloquinone is found primarily in green leafy vegetables and is the main dietary form of vitamin K. Menaquinones, which are predominantly of bacterial origin, are present in moderate amounts in a variety of animals and fermented foods. Almost all menaquinones, in particular long-chain menaquinones, are also produced by bacteria in the human intestine. Like other fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin K dissolves in oil and fats, is not completely eliminated from the body in fluids, and is also partially deposited in the body’s fatty tissues.

Vitamin K is insoluble in water and slightly soluble in methanol. Less resistant to acids, air and moisture. Sensitive to sunlight. The boiling point is 142,5 ° C. Odorless, light yellow in color, in the form of an oily liquid or crystals.

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Useful properties and effects on the body

The body needs vitamin K to produce prothrombin – a protein and blood clotting factor, which is also important for bone metabolism. Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is eaten from plants. It is the main type of dietary vitamin K. A lesser source is vitamin K2 or menahinon, which is found in the tissues of some animals and fermented foods.

Metabolism in the body

Vitamin K functions as a coenzyme for vitamin K-dependent carboxylase, an enzyme required for the synthesis of proteins involved in blood clotting and bone metabolism, and a variety of other physiological functions. Prothrombin (coagulation factor II) is a vitamin K-dependent plasma protein that is directly involved in blood clotting. Like dietary lipids and other fat-soluble vitamins, ingested vitamin K enters the micelles through the action of bile and pancreatic enzymes and is absorbed by the enterocytes of the small intestine. From there, vitamin K is incorporated into complex proteins, secreted into the lymphatic capillaries, and transported to the liver. Vitamin K is found in the liver and other tissues of the body, including the brain, heart, pancreas, and bones.

In its circulation in the body, vitamin K is carried mainly into lipoproteins. Compared to other fat-soluble vitamins, very little vitamin K circulates in the blood. Vitamin K is rapidly metabolized and excreted from the body. Based on measurements of phylloquinone, the body retains only about 30-40% of the oral physiological dose, while about 20% is excreted in the urine and 40% to 50% in the faeces via the bile. This rapid metabolism explains the relatively low tissue levels of vitamin K compared to other fat-soluble vitamins.

Little is known about the absorption and transport of vitamin K produced by gut bacteria, but studies show that significant amounts of long-chain menaquinones are present in the large intestine. While the amount of vitamin K the body gets in this way is unclear, experts believe these menaquinones satisfy at least some of the body’s need for vitamin K.

Vitamin K benefits

  • bone health benefits: There is evidence of a relationship between low intake of vitamin K and the development of osteoporosis. Several studies have shown that vitamin K promotes the development of strong bones, improves bone density and reduces risk;
  • maintaining cognitive health: Elevated blood levels of vitamin K have been associated with improved episodic memory in older adults. In one study, healthy people over 70 years of age with the highest blood levels of vitamin K1 had the highest verbal episodic memory performance;
  • help in the work of the heart: Vitamin K can help lower blood pressure by preventing mineralization of the arteries. This allows the heart to freely pump blood in the vessels. Mineralization usually occurs with age and is an important risk factor for heart disease. An adequate intake of vitamin K has also been shown to reduce the risk of developing.

Healthy food combinations with vitamin K

Vitamin K, like other fat-soluble vitamins, is useful to combine with the “right” fats. – and have significant health benefits and help the body absorb a specific group of vitamins – including vitamin K, which is key for bone formation and blood clotting. Examples of correct combinations in this case would be:

  • chard, or, or kale stewed in, with the addition of or garlic butter;
  • fried Brussels sprouts with;
  • It is considered correct to add parsley to salads and other dishes, because one handful of parsley is quite capable of providing the body’s daily need for vitamin K.

It should be noted that vitamin K is readily available from food, and is also produced in some quantities by the human body. Eating the right diet, which includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs, as well as the correct ratio of proteins, fats and carbohydrates, should provide the body with a sufficient amount of most nutrients. Vitamin supplements should be prescribed by a doctor for certain medical conditions.

Interaction with other elements

Vitamin K actively interacts with. Optimal levels of vitamin K in the body can prevent some of the side effects of excess vitamin D, and normal levels of both vitamins reduce the risk of hip fractures and improve overall health. In addition, the interaction of these vitamins improves insulin levels, blood pressure and reduces risk. Together with vitamin D, calcium also participates in these processes.

Vitamin A toxicity can impair the synthesis of vitamin K2 by intestinal bacteria in the liver. In addition, high doses of vitamin E and its metabolites can also affect the activity of vitamin K and its absorption in the intestine.

Use in official medicine

In traditional medicine, vitamin K is considered effective in the following cases:

  • to prevent bleeding in newborns with low vitamin K levels; for this, the vitamin is administered orally or by injection.
  • treating and preventing bleeding in people with low levels of a protein called prothrombin; vitamin K is taken orally or intravenously.
  • with a genetic disorder called vitamin K-dependent clotting factor deficiency; taking the vitamin orally or intravenously helps prevent bleeding.
  • to reverse the effects of taking too much warfarin; effectiveness is achieved when taking the vitamin at the same time as the drug, stabilizing the process of blood clotting.

In pharmacology, vitamin K is found in the form of capsules, drops, and injections. It can be available alone or as part of a multivitamin – especially in conjunction with vitamin D. For bleeding caused by diseases such as hypothrombinemia, 2,5 – 25 mg of vitamin K1 is usually prescribed. To prevent bleeding when taking too many anticoagulants, take 1 to 5 mg of vitamin K. In Japan, menaquinone-4 (MK-4) is recommended to prevent the development of osteoporosis. It should be remembered that these are general recommendations, and when taking any medications, including vitamins, you need to consult your doctor..

In folk medicine

Traditional medicine considers vitamin K as a remedy for frequent bleeding,,, stomach or duodenum, as well as bleeding in the uterus. The main sources of the vitamin are considered by folk healers to be green leafy vegetables, cabbage, pumpkin, beets, liver, egg yolk, as well as some medicinal plants – shepherd’s purse, and water pepper.

To strengthen blood vessels, as well as to maintain the general immunity of the body, it is advised to use a decoction of fruits and, nettle leaves, etc. Such a decoction is taken in the winter season, within 1 month, before meals.

The leaves are rich in vitamin K, which are often used in folk medicine to stop bleeding, as a pain reliever and sedative. It is taken in the form of decoctions, tinctures, poultices and compresses. Tincture of plantain leaves lowers blood pressure, helps with coughs and respiratory diseases. Shepherd’s purse has long been considered an astringent and is often used in folk medicine to stop internal and uterine bleeding. The plant is used as a decoction or infusion. Also, to stop uterine and other bleeding, tinctures and decoctions of nettle leaves, which are rich in vitamin K, are used. Sometimes yarrow is added to nettle leaves to increase blood clotting.

Latest scientific research on vitamin K

In the largest and most recent study of its kind, researchers at the University of Surrey found a link between diet and effective treatment for osteoarthritis.

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After analyzing 68 existing studies in this area, the researchers found that a low daily dose of fish oil can reduce pain in osteoarthritis patients and help improve their cardiovascular system. The essential fatty acids in fish oil reduce joint inflammation and help relieve pain. Researchers also found that weight loss in patients with and putting on exercise also improved osteoarthritis. Obesity not only increases the stress on the joints, but can also lead to systemic inflammation in the body. It has also been found that introducing more vitamin K foods such as kale, spinach and parsley into the diet has a positive effect on the condition of patients with osteoarthritis. Vitamin K is essential for vitamin K-dependent proteins found in bones and cartilage. An inadequate intake of vitamin K negatively affects protein function, slowing bone growth and repair and increasing the risk of osteoarthritis.

A study published in the American Journal of High Pressure indicates that high levels of inactive Gla-protein (which is usually activated by vitamin K) may indicate an increased risk of heart disease.

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This conclusion was made after measuring the level of this protein in people on dialysis. There is growing evidence that vitamin K, traditionally considered essential for bone health, also plays a role in the functioning of the cardiovascular system. By strengthening bones, it also contributes to the contraction and relaxation of blood vessels. If there is calcification of the vessels, then the calcium from the bones passes into the vessels, as a result of which the bones become weaker and the vessels less elastic. The only natural inhibitor of vascular calcification is the active matrix Gla-protein, which provides the process of calcium adhesion to blood cells instead of the vessel walls. And this protein is activated precisely with the help of vitamin K. Despite the lack of clinical results, inactive circulating Gla-protein is widely considered to be an indicator of the risk of developing cardiovascular diseases.

Insufficient vitamin K intake in adolescents has been linked to heart disease.

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In a study of 766 healthy adolescents, it was found that those who consumed the least amount of vitamin K1 found in spinach, kale, iceberg lettuce and olive oil had a 3,3 times higher risk of unhealthy enlargement of the main pumping chamber of the heart. Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, is the most abundant form of vitamin K in the US diet. “Teens who do not consume green leafy vegetables may face serious health problems in the future,” says Dr. Norman Pollock, a bone biologist at the Georgia Institute for Prevention of the University of Augusta, Georgia, USA, and author of the study. About 10 percent of teens already had some degree of left ventricular hypertrophy, Pollock and colleagues report. Usually, mild ventricular changes are more common in adults whose hearts are overloaded due to persistent high blood pressure. Unlike other muscles, a larger heart is not considered healthy and may become ineffective. The scientists believe they have conducted the first-of-its-kind study of associations between vitamin K and the structure and function of the heart in young adults. While there is a need for further study of the problem, the evidence suggests that adequate vitamin K intake should be monitored at an early age to avoid further health problems.

Use in cosmetology

Traditionally, vitamin K is considered one of the key beauty vitamins, along with vitamins A, C and E. It is often used at 2007% concentration in skin care products for stretch marks, scars, rosacea and rosacea due to its ability to improve vascular health and stop bleeding. It is believed that vitamin K is also able to cope with dark circles under the eyes. Research shows that vitamin K can help fight the signs of aging as well. A XNUMX study shows that people with vitamin K malabsorption had pronounced premature wrinkles.

Vitamin K is also beneficial for use in body care products. A study published in the Journal of Vascular Research shows vitamin K may help prevent the occurrence. It activates a special protein needed to prevent calcification of the vein walls – the cause of varicose veins.

In industrial cosmetics, only one form of this vitamin is used – phytonadione. It is a blood coagulation factor, stabilizes the state of blood vessels and capillaries. Vitamin K is also used during the rehabilitation period after plastic surgery, laser procedures, peelings.

There are many recipes for natural face masks that contain ingredients that contain vitamin K. Such products are parsley, dill, spinach, pumpkin,. Such masks often include other vitamins such as A, E, C, B6 to achieve the best effect on the skin. Vitamin K, in particular, is able to give the skin a fresher look, smooth fine wrinkles, get rid of dark circles and reduce the visibility of blood vessels.

  1. 1 A very effective recipe for puffiness and rejuvenation is a mask with lemon juice, coconut milk and kale. This mask is applied to the face in the morning, several times a week for 8 minutes. In order to prepare the mask, it is necessary to squeeze out the juice of the slices (so that one teaspoon is obtained), rinse the kale (a handful) and mix all the ingredients (1 teaspoon of honey and a tablespoon of coconut milk). Then you can grind all the ingredients in a blender, or, if you prefer a thicker structure, grind the cabbage in a blender, and add all the other components by hand. The finished mask can be placed in a glass jar and stored in the refrigerator for a week.
  2. 2 A nourishing, refreshing and softening mask is a mask with banana, honey and avocado. Banana is rich in vitamins and minerals such as vitamin B6, magnesium, vitamin C, potassium, biotin, etc. Avocados contain omega-3s, fiber, vitamin K, copper, folate, and vitamin E. It helps protect the skin from UV rays. Honey is a natural antibacterial, antifungal and antiseptic agent. Together, these ingredients are a treasure trove of beneficial substances for the skin. In order to prepare the mask, you need to knead a banana and then add 1 teaspoon of honey. Apply to cleansed skin, leave for 10 minutes, rinse with warm water.
  1. 3 The famous cosmetologist Ildi Pekar shares her favorite recipe for a homemade mask for redness and inflammation: it contains parsley, apple cider vinegar and yogurt. Grind a handful of parsley in a blender, add two teaspoons of organic, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and three tablespoons of natural yogurt. Apply the mixture to cleansed skin for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water. This mask will not only reduce redness thanks to the vitamin K contained in parsley, but will also have a slight whitening effect.
  2. 4 For radiant, moisturized and toned skin, it is advised to use a mask made from natural yoghurt. Cucumber contains vitamins C and K, which are antioxidants that moisturize the skin and fight dark circles. Natural yogurt exfoliates the skin, removes dead cells, moisturizes and gives a natural glow. To prepare the mask, grind the cucumber in a blender and mix with 1 tablespoon of natural yogurt. Leave it on the skin for 15 minutes and then wash off with cool water.

Vitamin K for hair

There is a scientific opinion that a lack of vitamin K2 in the body can lead to hair loss. It helps in the regeneration and restoration of hair follicles. In addition, vitamin K, as noted earlier, activates a special protein in the body that regulates calcium circulation and prevents the deposition of calcium on the walls of blood vessels. Correct circulation of blood in the scalp directly affects the rate and quality of follicular growth. In addition, calcium is responsible for the regulation of the hormone testosterone, which, in case of impaired production, can cause it – in both men and women. Therefore, it is recommended to include in the diet foods rich in vitamin K2 – fermented soybeans, mature cheese, kefir, sauerkraut, meat.

Livestock use

Since its discovery, it has been known that vitamin K plays an important role in the blood clotting process. More recent research has shown that vitamin K is also important in calcium metabolism. Vitamin K is an essential nutrient for all animals, although not all sources are safe.

Poultry, especially broilers and turkeys, are more prone to developing vitamin K deficiency symptoms than other animal species, which can be attributed to their short digestive tract and fast food passage. Ruminants such as cattle and sheep do not appear to need a dietary source of vitamin K due to microbial synthesis of this vitamin in the rumen, one of the stomach compartments of these animals. Because horses are herbivores, their vitamin K requirements can be met from sources found in plants and from microbial synthesis in the intestines.

The various sources of vitamin K accepted for use in animal feed are widely referred to as the active compounds of vitamin K. There are two main active compounds of vitamin K – menadione and the menadione branesulfite complex. These two compounds are also widely used in other types of animal feed, as nutritionists often include active ingredients of vitamin K in the formulation of the feed to prevent vitamin K deficiency. Although plant sources contain fairly high amounts of vitamin K, very little is known about the actual bioavailability of the vitamin from these sources. According to the NRC publication, Vitamin Tolerances of Animals (1987), vitamin K does not lead to toxicity when consuming large amounts of phylloquinone, the natural form of vitamin K. It is also noted that menadione, a synthetic vitamin K commonly used in animal feed, can be added up to levels in excess of 1000 times the amount consumed with food, with no adverse effects in animals other than horses. Administration of these compounds by injection has caused adverse effects in horses, and it is unclear if these effects will also occur when vitamin K actives are added to the diet. Vitamin K and the active substances of vitamin K play an important role in providing essential nutrients in the diet of animals.

In crop production

In recent decades, there has been a significant increase in interest in the physiological function of vitamin K in plant metabolism. In addition to its well-known relevance to photosynthesis, it is increasingly likely that phylloquinone may play an important role in other plant compartments as well. Several studies, for example, have suggested the involvement of vitamin K in the transport chain that carries electrons across plasma membranes, and the possibility that this molecule helps maintain the correct oxidation state of some important proteins embedded in the cell membrane. The presence of various types of quinone reductases in the liquid content of the cell can also lead to the assumption that the vitamin may be associated with other enzymatic pools from the cell membrane. To date, new and deeper studies are still being carried out to understand and clarify all the mechanisms in which phylloquinone is involved.

Interesting Facts

  • Vitamin K takes its name from a Danish or German word coagulation, which means blood clotting.
  • All babies, regardless of gender, race or ethnicity, are at risk of bleeding until they start eating regular foods or mixtures and until their gut bacteria start producing vitamin K. This is due to insufficient passage of vitamin K across the placenta. a small amount of vitamin in breast milk and the absence of necessary bacteria in the intestines of the baby in the first weeks of life.
  • Fermented foods such as natto usually have the highest concentration of vitamin K found in the human diet and can provide several milligrams of vitamin K2 daily. This level is much higher than that found in dark green leafy vegetables.
  • The main function of vitamin K is to activate calcium binding proteins. K1 is mainly involved in blood clotting, while K2 regulates the entry of calcium into the correct compartment in the body.

Contraindications and cautions

Vitamin K is more stable during food processing than other vitamins. Some natural vitamin K can be found in those that are resistant to heat and moisture during cooking. The vitamin is less stable when exposed to acids, alkalis, light and oxidants. Freezing can reduce vitamin K levels in foods. It is sometimes added to food as a preservative to control fermentation.

Signs of shortage

Current evidence indicates that vitamin K deficiency is atypical in healthy adults, as the vitamin is abundant in foods. Those most often at risk of developing a deficiency are those taking anticoagulants, patients with significant liver damage and poor absorption of fat from food, and newborn infants. Vitamin K deficiency leads to a bleeding disorder, usually demonstrated by laboratory clotting rate tests.

Symptoms include:

  • easy bruising and bleeding;
  • bleeding from the nose, gums;
  • blood in urine and stools;
  • heavy menstrual bleeding;
  • severe intracranial bleeding in infants.

There are no known risks to healthy people associated with high doses of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) or vitamin K2 (menaquinone).

Drug interactions

Vitamin K can have serious and potentially harmful interactions with anticoagulants such as warfarinand фенпрокумон, acenocoumarol and thioclomarolwhich are commonly used in some European countries. These drugs interfere with the activity of vitamin K, leading to depletion of vitamin K clotting factors.

Antibiotics can kill vitamin K-producing bacteria in the gut, potentially lowering vitamin K levels.

Bile acid sequestrants used to lower levels by preventing reabsorption of bile acids may also decrease absorption of vitamin K and other fat-soluble vitamins, although the clinical significance of this effect is unclear. A similar effect can have weight loss drugs that inhibit the absorption of fats by the body, respectively, and fat-soluble vitamins.

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