Blog Directory - Blogged foodliterate: The ABC's of Vitamins - Vitamin K

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The ABC's of Vitamins - Vitamin K

Well, it has been a while since my last post and for that I do apologize. As the weather warms up, my work load seems to increase (and not in that fun vacation sort of way, at least not yet!). But nonetheless, today marks the last of the vitamin series - vitamin K. Vitamin K was discovered back in 1929 and was first synthesized in a lab in 1939, so why is it that in 2009 so few people know anything about it?

Without sounding too much like a broken record, vitamin K is also the generic term for a group of compounds; the two natural forms being K1 and K2. (There are 3 more synthetic forms) K1 is also known as phylloquinone and comes from plants and is very biologically available. K2 is a family of menaquinones and are produced by bacteria, including those that live in your gut.

So, what's the big deal about vitamin K? The biggest, perhaps most important job is its role in blood coagulation. (It works with prothrombin and other proteins to cause coagulation) It also plays a role in bone metabolism which may help to prevent osteoporosis. SCIENCE ALERT: Both of these functions have to do with vitamin K's role as a co-factor for gamma-glutamyl carboxylase (the enzyme that catalyzes the conversion of bound glutamate (Glu) to gamma-carboxyglutamate (Gla) and the binding of calcium ions to the Gla giving it bioactivity - also known as the "vitamin K dependent glutamate gamma-carboxylation reaction").

The lack of vitamin K seems to lead to a higher incidence of calcified atherosclerotic plaques - not good. And newer research is looking into vitamin K's role in neuronal survival and its potential in the treatment or prevention of Alzheimer's.
Are you wondering "where can I get this wonderful vitamin"? Good, the best sources are green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, spinach, turnip greens, asparagus, and cabbage. Vitamin K, as an oil soluble vitamin, is also found in canola, soybean and olive oil. The recommended daily intake varies depending on age and gender, but is generally between 65 -120 micrograms per day. Most of us have no problem getting this amount from our diet, but those who are on a highly restricted diet, or are on sulfa drugs may need to supplement. Those who are on anticoagulant drugs should watch their intake of vitamin K containing foods, as vitamin K can interfere with their medication (make sure to talk to your doctor!).

So, we've covered the world of vitamins (sort of in the "Reader's Digest" kind of way) and I hope it makes you feel more comfortable about what you need, in what quantities, and why you need them. July is another crazy month for me at my job (and my committee work, and vacation, etc.) but I will try to get at least of couple of posts in. Please let me know what you want to learn about next - I'm open to ALL suggestions, so don't be afraid to ask!

No comments: