Vitamins are an important component of a healthy diet. In fact, if a person’s nourishment was comprised only of vitamin-depleted foods, she would not survive. In general, vitamins help the human body perform its functions and develop properly. Each vitamin plays a different role and the majority of the vitamins we consume are found in the substance we eat and drink. Vitamin K, which helps blood clot and maintains strong bones, is part of the fat-soluble vitamin group, which means it is stored in the fatty tissues of the body.
Vitamin K foods are quite widespread. However, the best sources of vitamin K foods are dark green leafy vegetables. Specific vitamin K foods include cabbage, spinach, parsley, Swiss chard, cauliflower, and kale. In addition, certain vegetable oils, such as soybean, canola, cottonseed, and olive oils, also contain vitamin K. Interestingly, if any of the oils are hydrogenated, it may lower the absorption and thereby decrease the benefits of the vitamin.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has an extensive food composition database. It is a great way to view the nutrients of a particular food or create a list of foods that have a specific vitamin or nutrient. For example, through the USDA database, specific vitamin K foods, such as mayonnaise, can be inspected for their vitamin K content – 3.7 mcg for 1 tablespoon (14.8 ml).
Although not part of the vitamin K foods group, there are bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract lining that create it, as well. Because it is so common and because it can be stored in the body, a deficiency in vitamin K is not common. It is marked by the tendency to bruise or bleed easily. It can only occur if the body does not correctly absorb the vitamin when it is in the intestinal tract or if someone has been treated with antibiotics for extended periods of time.
Multivitamins typically contain about 15 mcg of vitamin K, however, a vitamin K supplement can contain up to 120 mcg. Studies have shown that consuming a little over ½ cup (118 ml) of broccoli or eating a large spinach salad everyday would be sufficient to decrease the likelihood of a hip fracture. In general, it is recommended that most adults take a multivitamin and eat approximately 1 cup (237 ml) of dark green leafy vegetables every day. It is also recommended that saturated fats found in food, such as butter, should be replaced with monounsaturated fats, like the kinds found in olive oil.