There are more and more people having bone problems now. However, not many people realise that vitamin K is exactly the right solution in such cases. Vitamin K prevents calcium from being deposited in the arteries and ensures that calcium is used to build bones. This only only prevents heart attacks, but also prevents osteoporosis.
What is Vitamin K?
Compared to the “well-known” vitamins, such as vitamin C, vitamin K is rather in the background. But its role in the body is no less important, as vitamin K2 deficiency would be dangerous. In addition to vitamins A, D and E, vitamin K is also one of the fat-soluble vitamins. So it moves within the so-called LDL molecule and other lipoproteins. Vitamin K was discovered in 1935 when scientists recognized it as a vital nutrient.
The term “vitamin K” refers to the combination of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone). While vitamin K1 is mainly found in green plants, vitamin K2 is produced by bacteria such as E. coli and, despite the same effect, is considered a more active form of the vitamin. Vitamin K is absorbed in the intestine and transported to the liver.
Interesting fact: In the past, a vitamin K2 deficiency was treated with the synthetic vitamin K3 (menadisone). But due to its harmful side effects and other complications, it is no longer permitted on the liver. Now there are supplements dealing with vitamin K2 deficiency products, such as the vitamin K2 drops and the combination preparation vitamin K2 & D3 from Casida, that one can purchase in pharmacies.
What does vitamin K do?
Osteoporosis and arteriosclerosis can be mostly found in older people, and they have nothing in common at the first glance. They are mostly got noticed only when people have broken bones or heart attacks. During the research of vitamin K2 it was found that, in addition to strengthening the bones and keeping the arteries clean, it can also prevent many diseases of affluence.
Vitamin K2, which is partially produced in the intestine, controls calcium by activating the GLA proteins. These proteins ensure the bounding of ingested calcium in the bones and prevent calcium deposits in the arteries. In this case, a lack of vitamin K2 could lead to problems with brittle bones and clogged arteries. Vitamin K2 deficiency could also cause the blood clotting problem.
The role of vitamin K in the body should therefore not be overlooked as it fulfills a multitude of functions. The most important known tasks of vitamin K include:
- Facilitation of blood clotting. Without vitamin K, no coagulation factors can be produced to stop bleeding.
- Another task of vitamin K is to prevent calcium deposits in blood vessels and cartilage.
- The regulation of cell division is also dependent on vitamin K.
- Vitamin K helps repair processes in the liver, kidneys, nerve cells, blood vessels and eyes.
- Thanks to vitamin K, bone resorption is inhibited in women after the menopause.
- In general, vitamin K ensures the maintenance of normal bones. Vitamin K can both accelerate bone growth at a young age and slow down its breakdown in old age. Vitamin K2 ensures an adequate mineral content in our bone tissue, which ensures firm and strong bones. Without vitamin K2, the calcium metabolism does not work and the mineral content decreases. Bones can become porous on this.
- Vitamin K reduces the risk of developing osteoporosis. With a vitamin K2 deficiency, the calcium is not stored in the bones and this leads to osteoporosis.
- According to some studies, vitamin K is said to have positive effects on memory, especially in old age.
- Vitamin K is also said to help against high blood pressure and other cardiovascular diseases.
- A vitamin K2 deficiency leads to calcium deposits in our artery walls, which can affect the functions of kidneys and the brain.
Many wonder whether atherosclerosis can be reversed by taking vitamin K2. According to a Dutch study, this should actually be possible. Normally, calcium is deposited in the bones and teeth, while the abnormal deposition of calcium occurs on the muscular layer of arteries, as well as the inner layer and heart valves. These deposits can be effectively combated by taking vitamin K2. The vitamin K2 should even be able to inhibit age-related arteriosclerosis when taken for a long time.
Bones are not just dead tissue; they can be built up again and again. Taking vitamin K2 supplements definitely makes sense, because with sufficient intake, our skeleton can be replaced by stable bones every ten years. It is important that the bone-forming activity is higher than the degrading activity. In contrast, vitamin K2 deficiency leads to a lower bone density and quality. This then leads to increasing bone loss and the risk of fractures increases. Vitamin K2 intake is therefore very important, especially from the age of 35.
How much vitamin K is needed every day?
Below is the daily requirement for vitamin K recommended by the German Nutrition Society (Deutschen Gesellschaft für Ernährung, DGE), while the values are slightly higher in other countries. At these doses, there should be no vitamin K2 deficiency. According to the DGE, the need for vitamin K depends on age and gender and is different for the different groups *:
- The recommended daily amount for adolescents aged 15 and over and adults, depending on age and gender, is between 60 and 80 micrograms.
- Pregnant and breastfeeding women can consume up to 60 micrograms of vitamin K per day.
- For children, depending on their age group, the recommended daily amount of vitamin K is between 15 and 50 micrograms.
- The required amount of vitamin K per day in babies in the first year of life is between 4 and 10 micrograms. Even if newborns receive vitamin K through breast milk, this amount is not sufficient. For this reason, all babies receive vitamin K from the first check-up.
With the K2 drops and the combination preparation Vitamin K2 & D3 from Casida, the right dose for the daily requirement can be easily measured.
What are the symptoms of vitamin K2 deficiency?
In rare cases, inadequate dietary intake is the cause of vitamin K2 deficiency. Nutritionists claim that you can get enough vitamin K with a balanced diet. However, certain diseases can interfere with the absorption of this important vitamin. Even if the vitamin K level drops, the body can fall back on the vitamin K of the intestinal bacteria.
If there is a lack of vitamin K2 in the body, the blood clotting factors are no longer sufficiently produced and there is a higher tendency to bleed. Blood coagulation can be determined by the doctor using an INR (international normalised ratio) value or prothrombin time (PT).
These symptoms are signs that there is a vitamin K2 deficiency:
- The first signs of a vitamin K2 deficiency are problems with concentration and lack of motivation.
- Since vitamin K is responsible for blood clotting, a vitamin K2 deficiency manifests itself in very heavy bleeding in injuries.
- Vitamin K2 deficiency is also noticeable through nosebleeds, bleeding of the mucous membranes and bruises. In the case of a vitamin K2 deficiency, bruises can be caused by a slight pressure
- If injuries take an exceptionally long time to heal, that could also be a symptom of a vitamin K2 deficiency.
Another symptom of a vitamin K2 deficiency could be brittle bones, because vitamin K is also responsible for the maintenance of bones.
What are the causes of a vitamin K2 deficiency?
The body of healthy people produces enough vitamin K, but chronic diseases can lead to vitamin K2 deficiency. If any of the above symptoms show up, the levels of vitamin K2 in the body should be checked.
The causes of vitamin K2 deficiency include metabolic disorders. In this case, certain bacteria produce less vitamin K. Drugs such as some antibiotics or bile acid sequestrants can also cause vitamin K2 deficiency by affecting vitamin production. Illnesses such as liver disease, alcoholism, celiac disease, but also poor nutrition and a disturbed lipid metabolism can be the cause vitamin K2 deficiency.
How can vitamin K2 deficiency be treated?
If you suspect a vitamin K2 deficiency, a visit to your family doctor is definitely recommended. After the family doctor has determined the severity of the vitamin K2 deficiency and the causes, appropriate treatment in the form of supplements or, in severe cases, injections is prescribed.
Vitamin K2 Tablets or vitamin K2 drops and the combination preparation vitamin K2 & D3 (e.g. from Casida) are suitable as a supplement. In addition, vitamin K2 deficiency can be prevented by consuming foods containing rich vitamin K.
Which kind of foods contain a higher level of vitamin K?
The fat-soluble vitamin K is produced by intestinal bacteria and released into the body. However, fat-soluble vitamins hardly enter the body from the intestinal section. Therefore, the supply of supplements such as the vitamin K2 drops from Casida and the appropriate diet play an important role.
A balanced diet is the most natural way to combat vitamin K2 deficiency. It is therefore important to include foods that are rich in vitamin K in your diet. This avoids a vitamin K2 deficiency. However, because of the limited storage capacity of vitamin K in the body, plenty of it should be taken in with food.
Vitamin K is mainly found in foods of plant origin. Green vegetables such as green lettuce and green cabbage varieties (e.g. broccoli, kale) are excellent sources of vitamin K, same as herbs such as chives, algae and vegetable oils.
The variants of vitamin K2 are produced in the body, but they also occur naturally. Vitamin K2 can be better absorbed by the human body. The foods that contain vitamin K2 include meat, eggs, dairy products and the little-known source of vitamin K2 natto – a fermented soybean product from Japan.
100 grams of celery root and an avocado, or 200 grams of pollack with approx. 40 grams of Brussels sprouts already provide the daily recommended amount of vitamin K. The same applies to 50 grams of Brussels sprouts or 150 grams of cottage cheese.
Vitamin K can also be found in the following foods:
- Raw fruits and vegetables: orange, pear, cauliflower, strawberry, lettuce, chives, spinach, grapes
- Dairy products: low-fat cottage cheese, cream cheese with herbs, drinking milk
- Fish and seafoods: herring, plaice, sprat
- Meat, poultry: chicken liver, veal liver, beef, pork
- Fats and oils: butter, olive oil, grapeseed oil
This is not a final list of foods with high vitamin K content, but it does contain most of the foodstuffs you can get in any supermarket or that (should) be on the general menus.
How to store or prepare foods with vitamin K?
The consumption of foods containing vitamin K is very important when tackling vitamin K2 deficiency, but the preparation and storage also play an important role. The vitamin K is a very light sensitive substance, which is why these foods must be stored in dark places. However, heat, oxygen as well as high temperature cooking can reduce the vitamin K content in food.
When should I take vitamin K supplements?
Vitamin K2 deficiency is generally highly unlikely in healthy people. However, there are a few exceptions and various causes for the deficiency. If foods with the relevant amount of vitamin K do not meet the demand, or with the use of certain medications or diseases that cause vitamin K2 deficiency, we recommend taking vitamin K preparations.
Chronic diseases of the digestive tract or the use of antibiotics can cause an uptake disorder and thus cause a vitamin K2 deficiency. Vitamin K supplements such as the Vitamin K drops from Casida are useful in such cases.
Vitamin K drops are administered to newborns as part of the first preventive medical check-up and the two follow-up examinations. The reason for this is that infants are initially undersupplied because they do not have sufficient vitamin K stores. Incidentally, there is only small amounts of vitamin K in breast milk. Without the vitamin K drops, the risk of cerebral, skin and intestinal bleeding in infants would be increased.
How can I choose the right vitamin K products?
There is no need to worry about overdosing of vitamin K, as vitamin K compounds from microorganisms and plants are harmless to healthy people. Allergic hypersensitivity reactions were only noticed in isolated cases. This is why the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has not set an upper limit for vitamin K intake.
The vitamin bonds for vitamin K phylloquinone (phytomenadione, K1) and menaquinone (K2) are approved in Germany and the EU in accordance with EU Directive 2002/46 / EC, Annex II (version dated 05.07.2017). No distinction is made between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 in the recommended intake, even if they have different physiological meanings and bioactivity.
If so-called vitamin K antagonists are prescribed for the prophylaxis of thrombotic diseases, for example, the inhibition of vitamin K absorption leads to a delay in blood clotting, taking dietary supplements such as drops or capsules with vitamin K would still be useful, but these should taken after consulting your doctor. The uncontrolled intake of dietary supplements with vitamin K could endanger the therapy in the long term.
For this reason, the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment has recommended a maximum amount in food supplements of 80 µg. In addition, there should be a warning on the packaging of dietary supplements with vitamin K that the preparations should not be taken without first consulting a doctor.
Which drugs are vitamin K antagonists?
Vitamin K antagonists are drugs that counteract the effects of vitamin K. Such drugs are given to a patient who suffers from certain diseases or who needs to reduce the risk of thrombosis or embolism after surgery.
The thromboembolic diseases that are treated with vitamin antagonists include venous thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, hereditary thrombophilia, atrial fibrillation, heart valve replacement and cardiomyopathies. This is intended to reduce the blood’s coagulability and counteract thrombosis.
Vitamin K antagonists have a very pronounced anticoagulant effect and can increase the risk of bleeding in the gastrointestinal tract, the urinary tract and intracranial areas. Vitamin K must be taken if the bleeding becomes threatening.
Vitamin K antagonists basically consist of 4 essential active ingredients: acenocoumarol, dicoumarol, phenprocoumon and warfarin. Examples of such drugs are found in curamine or heparin.
What is the relationship between vitamin K and vitamin D?
Vitamin D3 is partially absorbed through food, but it is difficult to fully cover the daily requirement. Sun exposure is the most important source of natural vitamin D and our skin produces vitamin D3 itself when exposed to sunlight. However, in most parts of Germany, the sun’s rays are not enough to meet the vitamin D requirement for a long time.
In addition to the lack of solar radiation, the adequate intake of vitamin D3 is also hampered by the fact that many people work in indoors. Since it is impossible for most to exercise under the sun for long period of time, supplements is in most cases the only way to fulfill vitamin D needs.
The body needs vitamin D3 for the strengthening of the immune system and bone health, but vitamin K2 is required for the utilization of vitamin D3. Vitamin D ensures the spread of calcium, while vitamin K2 is the antagonist and ensures the breakdown of calcium in the body. Vitamin K2 and vitamin D are both fat-dissolving vitamins and are often associated with one another. For this reason, it is important to take vitamin K2 in addition to vitamin D.
This fact has been recognized by manufacturers of dietary supplements and a large number of combination preparations have been brought onto the market. This also includes the combination preparation from Casida Vitamin K2 & D3, which has proven to be particularly effective for vitamin K2 deficiency.
Alexander Helm is a licensed pharmacist (Martin-Luther University) and the founder of Casida. His vision is to combine pharmaceutical know-how and natural remedy into natural health products, and leverage the power of nature to improve human health.