Vitamin K is not as well known as some of the other vitamin families, in fact, it wasn’t identified until 1929. Since then, we have learned quite a bit about vitamin K benefits. For more of the story, read on!
How Vitamin K got its Name
The story of its discovery is another of those “unintended results” that happen so frequently in scientific research. Danish biochemist and physiologist Henrik Dam was conducting a series of tests to determine the role of cholesterol by feeding chickens a diet without any cholesterol. After the test chickens had been on this cholesterol restricted diet for a few weeks they began to develop hemorrhages and bleeding. When cholesterol was reintroduced to their diet these problems continued which proved that there was another substance that had been removed from their diet. Dam called this the “coagulation vitamin” because of the bleeding.
This newly discovered vitamin ended up with the letter “K” as an identifier because Dam first reported his findings in a German scientific journal where the new substance was identified as “Koagulationsvitamin”. Today, more than 80 years later, vitamin K is still known as the clotting vitamin but we now know it does much more than that.
In addition to its coagulation duties, vitamin K benefits include proper mineralization of bones and healthy and efficient cell growth.
Vitamin K Deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency is extremely rare but it can occur when the body is not able to properly absorb vitamin K from the intestinal tract. There is also evidence that a deficiency can be caused from prolonged antibiotic treatments. Symptoms of a possible deficiency can be being easily bruised and bleeding easily from the nose, or when brushing teeth, or abnormally heavy menstrual bleeding.
Sources of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is found in leafy greens such as Kale, Collards, Spinach, Romaine lettuce, and Parsley. It is also found in certain vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli. Animal sources include fish, liver, red meat and eggs.
Smoothies offer a good opportunity to add vitamin K to your diet by using Kale and Spinach in mixed veggie and fruit smoothies, or in pure veggie smoothies. We have many recipes using both leafy greens.
Now that you know about vitamin K benefits, there is no reason not to include it in your daily meal plans.