Vitamin K refers to a group of Vitamins Fat-soluble that play a role in blood clotting, bone metabolism and the regulation of calcium levels in the blood. It therefore helps our body to heal wounds, to keep our blood vessels and bones healthy.
According to research, vitamin K deficiency is widespread, especially in newborns. However, unlike some very popular vitamins such as vitamins C and D, vitamin K does not (wrongly!) figure prominently on the list of “essentials”.
What are the differences between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2? And what are the best sources of vitamin K? What are its benefits for athletes? This article offers you an in-depth presentation of this vitamin often neglected because unknown.
What is the difference between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2?
Vitamin K comes in two forms: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Leafy greens are the richest source of whole foods in K1. Vitamin K2 is present in animal products and most fermented foods. Both K1 and K2 are beneficial to the body, but absorb enough K2 is especially important to achieve maximum health benefits.
What for? Because vitamin K2 flows better to bones and blood vessels (where it helps protect against skeletal and cardiovascular problems) than K1, which tends to hang out in the liver.
But this is not, however, an excuse to evade vitamin K1 which does an important job in the liver, where it plays a key role in blood clotting.
What are the best sources of vitamin K?
There is currently insufficient data to suggest a therapeutic dosage. However, current guidelines in North America recommend 90 mcg of vitamin K per day for women and 120 mcg for men. Here are some specific foods that will help you increase your vitamin K reserves.
Foods that nourish the gut microbiota
Bacteria in the gut synthesize vitamin K2. Foods rich in soluble fiber, also called prebiotics, feed these intestinal bacteria.
Eating fresh, grown and fermented vegetables and fruits, nuts, seeds, and beans promotes good intestinal health.
Regularly consume sauerkraut, kale, carrots, broccoli, yogurt and kefir.
Natto is a fermented soy product consumed at breakfast in Japan. It is undoubtedly the food richest in vitamin K2.
Pasteurized animal products
Soft cheeses, egg yolks, butter, roast chicken and ground beef are also very rich in vitamin K2.
They are the main source of vitamin K1 in nature and are excellent for general health: cabbage, spinach, lettuce, arugula, young shoots, etc.
The benefits of vitamin K for athletes
Vitamin K improves cardiovascular capacity for exercise
A little-known but intriguing advantage: according to one study, vitamin K could help increase cardiovascular capacity for exercise.
The study in question revealed that taking 300mg of K2 for four weeks and then reducing it to 150mg for another four weeks allowed increased cardiac output by 12%. Cardiac output is the heart’s ability to pump blood throughout the body (usually measured in litres per minute). An increase in cardiac output means that the heart is stronger or the vessels are more adapted to blood flow.
Vitamin K strengthens the heart tissue itself and this benefit can therefore extend to cardiovascular exercise, allowing you to be more resistant to exertion.
Vitamin K increases bone density
Sk skeleton health is important for all athletes, whether they are young or older.
Bone is a living tissue whose vital functions are the structural support and storage of minerals. Bone density is influenced by heredity, physical activity and dietary intake. Adolescence is the fastest period of bone accumulation, which persists until the maximum bone mass is reached.
Any disruption of these physiological events, such as pubertal age and menstrual cycle in women, can limit gain or even cause loss of bone density. Due to this complexity, bone diseases develop all over the world, including in athletes. It seems that extreme exercise can affect bone health and performance, especially in young and old.
Forendurance, the main problem with regular exercise is a potential loss of bone density. Narrowing of the bones increases the likelihood of injury, and therefore osteoporosis.
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that works with calcium to strengthen bones. People with higher vitamin K levels in the blood have higher bone density, while those with lower blood vitamin K levels are more likely to have osteoporosis.
Scientific research indicates that vitamin K, whether it comes in the form of food or supplement, has remarkable benefits for heart and bone health. Benefits also extend to the performance and longevity of athletes in general.