Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a crucial role in several physiological functions in the body.
There are two forms: phylloquinone (K1), found mostly in leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, and menaquinone (K2), which is present in meat, eggs, some fermented foods and is produced in small quantities by the digestive system.
- Blood clotting — Vitamin K is essential for the synthesis of certain proteins, including the blood clotting factor prothrombin. These help in the coagulation process, to prevent excessive bleeding when injuries occur.
- Bone health — Prothrombin also is crucial for bone metabolism and helps regulate calcium within the bones. It works in conjunction with other vitamins and minerals to support bone mineralization, which is important for maintaining bone density and reducing the risk of fractures.
- Brain health — Emerging research suggests that vitamin K may play a role in brain health and cognitive function. It is found in high concentrations in the brain, and adequate levels may be important for neurological development and function.
- Cardiovascular health — Some studies suggest that vitamin K may contribute to cardiovascular health by helping to prevent arterial calcification. It helps regulate the deposition of calcium in the arterial walls, potentially reducing the risk of heart diseases.
- Cell growth and function — Vitamin K is involved in the synthesis of proteins that are important for cell growth and function. It may have a role in supporting cell proliferation and preventing abnormal cell growth.
- Improved insulin sensitivity — Some studies indicate that vitamin K may have a positive impact on insulin sensitivity, which is important for maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
Nutritional experts say vitamin K deficiency is rare, but taking supplements can be beneficial for some people.