Vitamin K benefits the body in many ways. Most importantly it aids our bodies in blood clotting and coagulation. Prothrombin is a protein that is produced from vitamin K and plays a major role in blood clotting. This means when we cut ourselves prothrombin prevents us from bleeding to death. So it is important that we consume enough foods that will give us plenty of vitamin K. Without it, prothrombin is lowered and the risk of excessive bleeding increases.
Another important benefit of vitamin K is that it promotes the calcification of bones and prevent calcification of blood vessels and kidneys. Therefore it may help to improve bone health and lower risk of osteoporosis. It may even prevent calcium build up in the arteries which is good for high blood pressure sufferers.
But rest assure, having a deficiency in this vitamin is rare for healthy people who eat a balanced diet. However, if your diet restricts the consumption of green vegetables this can inhibit the formation of vitamin K. On the other hand research has shown that there is no toxic side effects in adults who take it via supplement form.
Food Sources of Vitamin K
The main dietary sources are from green leafy vegetables. This would provide vitamin K1. Animal products and fermented foods provide vitamin K2. When we eat any leafy green we are ingesting vitamin K1. Bacteria in the large intestine converts K1 to the storage form vitamin K2 and stores it in the liver or fatty tissues.
Other green sources include broccoli, brussels sprouts, herbs, kale, lettuce, arugula etc. Basically anything that goes through photosynthesis. This list also includes white potatoes, carrots, pumpkin seeds, cranberries and cashews.
Risks to consider
Toxicity is rare and less likely to come from eating foods containing vitamin K. Keep in mind that taking any form of supplement can lead to toxicity. In particular any blood thinners, anticonvulsants or even weight loss drugs can negatively interact with the vitamin. The rule of thumb is to eat a balanced diet so that there is little room for deficiency.