Vitamin K is best known for its association with the process of blood clotting. However, it does contribute to our health in a variety of other ways. There are three types of vitamin K: K1, K2, and K3.
Mostly found in plant foods, green vegetables are the best source of K1. K2 is not usually pre-formed, unless it’s found in fermented foods, or transformed by bacteria in food. Foods like tempeh and miso contain significant amounts of K2. There is still much research to be done on K3 in food, as of now it is only found in very small amounts, and we’re not quite clear on its health contribution.
Research shows that vitamin K is particularly helpful in the areas of bone health, and serves as an antioxidant nutrient in specific chemical forms, as well as an aid to clotting. Vitamin K is also known to improve insulin resistance and is an important nutrient for protecting cells that line blood vessels.
To obtain optimal amounts of vitamin K, one cup of kale provides 10 times the daily amount you will need. Otherwise, fresh green vegetables are the best source of K-1, including parsley, basil, cilantro, and several other herbs .Beyond vegetables, you’ll find K-1 in kiwi, prunes, grapes, and blueberries.
Some animal foods also contain significant amounts of vitamin K. Try pasture-raised eggs and chicken, grass-fed beef and lamb, shrimp, sardines, salmon, and tuna.
Given the common American diet, the relatively low intake of green leafy vegetables has implications regarding intake of vitamin K. It is possible that this low intake contributes to blood clotting disorders, osteoporosis, coronary artery disease, celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and more.
Vitamin K works in conjunction with calcium, vitamin D, and magnesium to secure a strong skeleton. Simply doubling our intake of broccoli or kale could rectify deficiencies easily, before problems ensue.
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