Top Vitamin K Foods and Health Benefits
In recent years, Vitamin K and specifically Vitamin K2 (Menaquinones), has been on the rise in popularity. The reason being, we now have a greater understanding of the essential role it plays in several primary functions of the human body.
Although deficiencies in Vitamin K are rare when one follows a well-balanced diet, It still should be near the top of your food list. It can prevent cardiovascular diseases, boosts the metabolism, helps in blood clotting formation and can even prevent some types of cancer. It is fat soluble, can be found in numerous natural ingredients and can even be produced in the gut when beneficial bacteria are present.
If you are not receiving enough of this Vitamin, you may have weakened bones, bruise easily and experience tooth decay more often than others. Primarily, deficiency is seen in infants, either due to transfer between mother and placenta or within the first few weeks of life.
What are the Top Vitamin K Foods?
According to the National Institutes of Health, the recommended dosage is 138mcg for men and 120mcg for women who are twenty years of age and older. The most common food sources that contain Vitamin K are green leafy vegetables (kale, spinach, collard greens, parsley), fermented soy (Natto), fermented dairy, cabbage, cucumbers, broccoli and brussel sprouts. The top foods include:
1. Kale: 1,147 micrograms for one cup of frozen, chopped and boiled.
2. Green Collards: 1059 micrograms for one cup of frozen, chopped and boiled.
3. Spinach: 1027 micrograms for one cup of frozen, chopped or leafed and boiled.
4. Mustard Greens: 830 micrograms for one cup of chopped and boiled.
5. Swiss Chard: 573 micrograms for one cup of chopped and boiled.
6. Natto: 500 micrograms for 2 ounces (can be found as a supplement as it is a Japanese soy dish not commonly found as a popular Western taste).
7. Brussel Sprouts: 300 micrograms for one cup of frozen and boiled.
8. Cabbage: 163 micrograms for one cup of shredded and boiled.
To see a chart of other foods with Vitamin K content and their portions, please visit here. It is important to check the daily percentage dose as cooking these types of foods in different ways will change how much Vitamin K you get out of them when consumed.
What are the Health Benefits of Vitamin K?
There are five main benefits and they include:
1. Reduces Osteoporosis Risk: Maintaining the osteocalcin levels within your bones which is what is needed to retain minerals such as calcium.
2. Helps Prevent Heart Disease: If calcium leaks out of your bones due to low Vitamin K levels, it can get deposited into the arteries of the cardiovascular system. Those with lower levels are at higher risk for arterial calcification or hardening of arteries. This in most cases leads to heart disease.
3. Helps the Blood-Clotting Formation: The liver is what manufactures the proteins required for blood clotting. Vitamin K is vital to the process as the liver uses it to help manufacture these proteins. Blood clotting is what affects how quickly you heal from bruises and how badly you bruise.
4. Can be Effective Against Some Cancers: It has been shown to be effective in protecting against prostate cancer and lowering the risk of this type of cancer development in men. The abstract of this study can be found here
5. Will Improve Skin: Vitamin K is needed to produce the proteins needed for healthy skin cell maintenance. It can help prevent acne, acne scarring and even help keep the connective elastin in your skin, supple. Thus reducing the number of wrinkles you have.
If you are worried about consuming the right type of Vitamin K, then opt for green leafy vegetables. Also fruits, and vegetable oils for Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinon). Fermented foods and animal-based products for Vitamin K2 (Menaquinones) such as cheese, eggs, and soybeans are also a wise choice.
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