Vitamin K might just be one of the most important vitamins you’ve never heard of. But are you getting enough? Are you doing the right things when it comes to nutrition?
Read on to learn more about why this vitamin is so critical to your health and whether or not you’re getting an ample supply on your vegan diet.
Why Vitamin K is So Important
You probably know about the health benefits of a lot of vitamins, such as vitamins A, B, C, and D. But you might not be as familiar with vitamin K. Here are just a few of the benefits it provides, and why it’s as important to your health as other vitamins and nutrients.
Now, scientists aren’t exactly sure what makes your blood clot, but they know that vitamin K plays a major role in the process. An enzyme known as carboxylase is needed in order to produce the proteins needed for blood clotting to occur. Your body needs vitamin K in order to produce carboxylase. It also helps to stimulate the development of prothrombin, a protein involved in coagulation.1
You might associate bone strength with nutrients like calcium, but did you know vitamin K also helps? It not only assists in the metabolism of bone, but it also helps prevent a loss of bone that can increase your risk of fractures.2
Many vitamins, including vitamin K, have been shown to help promote heart health. According to one study, vitamin K helps to slow the calcification (the accumulation of calcium deposits) in your arteries, ensuring that your heart gets a proper supply of blood.3,4
Boosting Insulin Function
Insulin is a very important hormone. It helps ensure that you get the energy you need by moving sugar to your tissues and into your bloodstream. But in some cases, your body has to produce more insulin. If it can’t produce enough, you could develop something called insulin resistance. This can elevate your blood sugar levels.5 One study suggests that vitamin K helps to reduce the progression of insulin resistance.6
Improving Brain Health
Vitamin K may also help produce compounds that regulate cognition and motor skills.7 There is also evidence it could help protect your brain from certain debilitating conditions.8
So, Does a Vegan Diet Provide Enough Vitamin K?
As you can see, getting enough vitamin K – along with other vitamins – is important for your overall health. This is the case whether you’re a vegan or not. But if you do live a vegan lifestyle, you may be concerned that you might not be getting enough of the vitamins you need to stay healthy.
One of the great things about being a vegan (or simply focusing on eating more veggies) is that you eat a lot of leafy green vegetables. The chances are very good that you get not only plenty of vitamin K but also other essential vitamins and nutrients. These are just a few of the vegan foods that provide a good supply of vitamin K:
- Romaine lettuce
- Dandelion greens
- Turnip greens
- Swiss chard9
As it turns out, you can not only get vitamin K from food, but also from the microbes that reside in your gastrointestinal tract, also referred to as the “gut.” Research shows that bacteria in the gut produce their own!10
So, don’t believe those who claim that you have to consume animal products in order to obtain vitamins such as vitamin K. It’s just not true.
The Vegan Lifestyle and Vitamin K
Now, there are two main types of vitamin K: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). K1 is primarily found in plant foods, while K2 is typically found in animal tissue. It’s the type of vitamin K referred to earlier – the kind produced by the microbes in your gut. Again, bacteria in your gut can produce K2. Unless you take antibiotics on a regular basis your body should be able to manufacture enough K2.
So, even though some may say that as a vegan, you may have problems with blood clotting because of a lack of vitamins K1 and K2, they’re wrong. According to one study, if you’re a vegan, your blood doesn’t clot any slower than anyone else’s.11
Signs of a Vitamin K Deficiency
Now, you might still be worried that going vegan means you’re won’t get enough critical vitamins you need. How do you know if you’re not getting enough K? There are ways to tell if you have a vitamin K deficiency. For example, if you tend to bruise easier than most people, or if you tend to bleed more than normal, you might have an issue.12
Talk to your doctor if you’re concerned. They can perform a test to see if have a K deficiency. A blood test can also make sure you’re getting all the nutrition you need to be as healthy as possible.
Wrapping it Up
Whether you’re a vegan or not, it’s important to make sure you don’t skimp when it comes to nutrition. When it comes to vitamin K in particular, all the evidence shows that those who follow a vegan diet get an ample supply. So, if you are committed to the vegan lifestyle, there’s no reason to worry.
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