Vitamin K is not as well known as other vitamins, but it is at least as important for the organism. Babies are given it as drops immediately after birth. How much vitamin K do you need and in which foods it is found?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a central role in blood clotting. Leafy greens and collard greens are high in vitamin K and are therefore well suited to meet an adult’s needs. It is particularly important for babies in the first few weeks of life.
Which vitamin K function is the most important?
The fat-soluble vitamin K is responsible in the body as a so-called co-factor for the smooth running of many metabolic processes. Co-factors are substances that enable certain enzyme reactions in the body. If they are missing, the reactions cannot proceed properly. Vitamin K also fulfills two other important tasks in the body: As a co-factor, it plays a crucial role in bone mineralization and blood clotting.
The protection of newborns is at the top of the vitamin K profile. Because the vitamin protects them from a dangerous cerebral hemorrhage. Babies who are exclusively breastfed are especially prone to developing vitamin K deficiency. The reason is that they can only store small amounts of the vitamin and breast milk also contains little vitamin K.
The possible consequence is a strong bleeding tendency in the children. This means they bruise easily, and mucous membranes and internal organs bleed more easily. It can even lead to a life-threatening cerebral hemorrhage. To prevent this, babies are given two milligrams of vitamin K immediately after birth, from the third to the tenth day of life as part of the U2 and from the fourth to sixth week of life as part of the U3.
What foods is vitamin K found in?
Nutritionists and physicians distinguish between two forms of vitamin K: the so-called phylloquinone, also known as vitamin K1, and the so-called menaquinone, also known as vitamin K2. Phylloquinone is mainly found in green vegetables such as spinach and cabbage, but vegetable oils from soy, canola, and olives as well as avocados also contain a lot of it.
Menaquinone is mainly found in animal and fermented foods. This includes milk and dairy products like yogurt and cheese, beef, chicken, and egg yolks. The highest proportion of vitamin K2 has so far been found in the so-called natto. These are soybeans that are first boiled and then spiked with a bacterium called Bacillus subtilis. The subsequent fermentation produces a particularly large amount of vitamin K2.
What is the vitamin K requirement?
Since vitamin K cannot be produced by the body itself, it must be obtained from the diet. In addition, the vitamin is not sufficiently stored in the body. It is therefore advisable to regularly consume foods with a high vitamin K content. So-called estimated values exist for vitamin K. This means that there are no exact values for the average vitamin K requirement, but the estimated intake is reasonable and harmless to health.