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Vitamin K: benefits to the body, in what foods it exists


Vitamins of group K (or naphthoquinones) were discovered and investigated by Danish, Swiss and American scientists in the 20-40s of the last century. They received their name from the term “coagulation”, as they increased blood clotting. Seven representatives of this group are now known to science. Natural compounds are phylloquinone (K1) and menaquinone (K2).

The rest of the K vitamins are obtained synthetically. Phylloquinone enters the human body with food. The proportion of menaquinone in food is ten times smaller, but due to certain bacteria, it is produced in the intestine from naphthoquinones. Both these compounds are extremely important for vascular health. That’s why you need to know what foods contain vitamin K.

The role of vitamins K and the rate of their consumption

Why do I need vitamin K? Back in 1929, biochemist Henrik Dam proved that the main function of this substance is to ensure rapid clotting of blood. Only 20 years ago, scientists learned the fact that the compound is responsible for the health of bone tissue. Vitamin K is a kind of regulator in the body. It takes calcium from the blood vessels and directs it to the teeth and bones. Thus, the compound contributes to the strength of the bone structure.

With a lack of vitamin K, calcium accumulates in cholesterol plaques. As a result, the vessels become rigid, the lumen in them narrows, and blood clots are formed. This leads to a stroke or a heart attack, an internal hemorrhage. Against the background of vitamin K deficiency, bone deformation and ossification of the cartilage develops experts say. In addition to the basic functions, the compound performs additional tasks: it has antimicrobial and anti-cancer effects, reduces pain.

What are the needs of the organism in phylloquinone and menaquinone?

  • The norm for men and women over 18 is 90-120 mcg per day.
  • Infants, as a rule, receive the necessary amount of vitamin K with mother’s milk. Newborns aged 3-5 days may have hemorrhagic syndrome, caused by a menaquinone deficiency.This is a temporary phenomenon, it occurs because the intestine of the baby is not populated with the necessary microflora.
  • Toddlers are enough to consume 30-50 mcg, preschool children – 55 mcg.
  • In the diet of children of 6-13 years, 55 – 60 micrograms of vitamin should be present.
  • The adolescent norm (14-17 years) is 75-80 mcg.

A sign of vitamin K deficiency is bleeding from the nose and gums, in the skin and in the gastrointestinal tract.

The main sources of phylloquinone

The lack of vitamins K due to an unbalanced diet is extremely rare. Often the problems with intestinal microflora, liver and biliary tract are causes of avitaminosis. Deficiency of the vitamin can be observed in the treatment of indirect anticoagulants, long-term intake of sulfonamides and antibiotics (this study says). The main way to treat vitamin deficiency is a reasonable diet.

Where is vitamin K 1 contained? Food sources of phylloquinone are green, chlorophyll-rich vegetables and herbs, as well as some vegetable oils.

The content of vitamin K in 100 g of products:

  • fresh parsley – 1640 mcg;
  • leafy cabbage – 800 mcg;
  • dandelion greens – 778.4 mcg;
  • boiled chard – 494 mcg;
  • fresh spinach – 483 mcg;
  • boiled green turnip – 367.6 mcg;
  • broccoli – 240 mcg;
  • green onion – 207.3 mcg;
  • soybean oil – 193 mcg;
  • Brussels sprouts – 180 mcg;
  • leaf lettuce – 174 mcg;
  • white cabbage – 145 mcg;
  • rapeseed oil – 127 mkg;
  • asparagus – 100 mcg;
  • olive oil – 55 mcg.

The best companions of phylloquinone in the dishes are vitamin D and calcium. K1 interacts well with fats. Being resistant to heat, it does not break down during the heat treatment. Below there are the recipes of dishes that fill the lack of phylloquinone.

  • Carrot salad with parsley and nuts

Fry three handfuls of walnuts, hazelnuts and peeled sunflower seeds. Grind a bunch of parsley. Coarsely grate two large carrots. Finely grate the zest of half a lemon. Extract the juice from the pulp. Add to it a zest, a tablespoon of liquid honey and 30 ml of linseed oil. If you want, salt and pepper. Mix nuts and seeds with carrots and parsley. Season the salad with a mixture based on lemon juice. Serve after a quarter of an hour.

  • Gnocchi with spinach

Boil 7 unpeeled medium-sized potatoes starch varieties. Blanch in boiling water a bunch of spinach until soft. Then pour it with cold water to keep the color bright. Squeeze and grind spinach. Peel warm potatoes and pass it through a sieve. Knead the potato paste with wheat flour (100 g) and spinach. If you want, season with salt and pepper. Divide the dough into pieces. Roll the sausage from each piece, then cut it into slices. With the teeth of a fork, give the gnocchi a corrugated look. In an hour, when the pieces dry, they can be boiled in salted water. Serve with butter.

  • Vegan cabbage rolls

Mix soya ground meat (0.5 kg) and onions (2 heads) in the blender. Add 100 grams of bulgur and 135 grams of rice. Add a half-pound of chopped parsley, a pinch of dry mint, and a tablespoon of tomato paste. Pepper and salt are optional. Mix everything. Put cabbage leaves in the boiling water. In a couple of minutes, when they darken, get them out of boiling water. Cut out the hard veins of the leaves. Put a little stuffing at the center and wrap the sheet. Densely lay the stuffed cabbage on the bottom of the pot. Pour boiling water so that the water only covers them. Brew cabbage half an hour. Before serving, dress with rice yogurt (60 ml) and two crushed garlic cloves.

Where does menaquinone come from?

For a long time, vitamin K2 was in the shadow of his brother – K1. Scientists thought that the role of the latter is higher, because it is much more contained in products. However, recent studies prove otherwise.

The body absorbs phylloquinone worse than K2. Its biological activity in the human body is short. At the same time, the half-life of menaquinone is 72 hours, which is 9 times longer than that of K1. Thus, it provides normal blood coagulability, prevents the development of osteoporosis and cardiovascular diseases. Products that contain vitamin D help increase the activity of menaquinone in the body.

The statistics says: in recent years in China, Europe, the United States and Japan, the demand for food additives with K2 has grown at times. However, doctors insist that you do not need to take special medications. It is better to eat right, because the excess of vitamins K is also harmful, as well as a lack. The surplus leads to a thickening of the blood, which is especially bad in old age.

The list of products in which there is a lot of menaquinone is small. It only helps that vitamin K, in whatever products it is not found, is easily transformed. That is, if there are enough saprophyte bacteria in the intestine, menaquinone is formed from every naphthoquinones. Vegetable food sources, rich in vitamin K2, are fermented soy products: miso, tempeh, tofu.

Natto is the leader in the content of menaquinone. In 100 g of fermented soybeans, popular in Japanese cuisine, there are 875 mcg of vitamin K2. For comparison: in dairy products this indicator varies within the range of 0.5-1 mcg.

Sauerkraut is also rich in vitamin K2: 4.8 mcg per 100 g. On its basis, you can prepare a useful raw porridge.

  • For the dish, you need 2-3 cobs of dairy corn.
  • Cut grains from stalk in several passes.
  • Pass them through the fine grill grinder.
  • The resulting mass is set aside for 1-2 hours for fermentation.
  • Finely chop a handful of sour cabbage, prepared with a salt-free method.
  • Cut one tomato into mugs, which then put on a flat dish.There, in the center, pour the infused corn porridge. Put sauerkraut on the edge of the plate.
  • Pour the finished dish with linseed oil (20-30 ml), sprinkle with red pepper.

How to cook a handmade natto?

  • Rinse twice quality soybeans thoroughly.
  • Rinse under running water.
  • Place in a glass container.
  • Pour clean water from the calculation of 1 part of the beans and 3 parts of the liquid.
  • After 8 hours, discard in a colander.
  • Put the beans in a pressure cooker, topping them with a glass of water.
  • Cook over high heat for 45 minutes.
  • Turn off the pressure cooker.Mix cooled and softened beans with the ferment of Bacillus natto.
  • Withstand soya in a fermenter for two days, three more days – in the refrigerator at 4 degrees.
Joel is an entrepreneur specialized in the international business development and project management. He graduated from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with a degree in Finance and International Business. He is currently working on decentralized autonomous organization (DAO) along with TechRar.

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