The chicks were dying. They were bleeding to death due to their inadequate diet and of course scientific research was done to find out what was responsible, in other words what was missing from their diet and causing the bleeding.
The first major clue was that the chicks were on a low fat, no cholesterol diet. The Danish Scientist Henrik Dam found after a series of trials that when alfalfa and cholesterol was added to the chick’s diet the bleeding stopped.
And that meant that the blood was being properly formed and that the proteins in the blood clotted or coagulated in response to injury.
If our blood did not clot in response to a cut or other wound we would bleed to death and that is what happened to the chicks.
Why Vitamin K is Called Vitamin K
What Henrik Dam found was an undiscovered vitamin that activated blood clotting also called coagulation. In Denmark “Coagulation” is spelled “Koagulation” with an initial K and so the vitamin was called Vitamin K.
The discovery was good news for the chicks and good news for Henrik Dam too because it got him and fellow researcher Edward Doisy, the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1943.
The Coagulation Vitamin
Mostly we think of blood as a liquid. It does after all flow out if we cut ourselves. But when there is damage to a blood vessel the blood turns into a gel to plug the wound and a complex process of coagulation ensures that the wound is plugged. And that is what does happen if we have adequate amounts of Vitamin K in our diet.
The Plot Thickens
As if It’s not enough that vitamin K protect us from bleeding to death from a minor injury, the vitamin K story got deeper. Another undiscovered vitamin was found that seemed similar to Vitamin K but was actually different.
Here is what vitamin K1 and K2 look like
They don’t just look different they are very distinct and have very different health benefits.
We know that vitamin K1 makes blood clotting possible by working on proteins in the blood so it’s the vitamin that saves your life when we wound ourselves and bleed.
But vitamin K2 acts on Calcium and I usually explain it by saying that it is the traffic cop that tells calcium where to go.
Without enough vitamin K2 the calcium we get from our diet, the calcium that is spread through the body in the blood can end up being dumped in our arteries and not in our bones.
In fact people suffering from bone diseases like osteoporosis have too little calcium in their bones and too much clogging up their arteries which does not just clog them up but also makes them brittle.
You can see enormous health problems here simply caused by not getting enough vitamin K2 in our diet.
It’s no good taking Calcium tablets without taking Vitamin K2 as well. In fact I would go further and say that you may be damaging your health if you take Calcium Tablets without vitamin K2.
Where Do We Get Vitamin K?
The short answer to that question is from the shelf of the Health store! But let’s look at foods first starting with Vitamin K1…
|Data adapted from Wiki|
And the foods for Vitamin K2 are in this table…
|Food||Amount of Vitamin K2|
|Natto – cooked fermented Soya Beans||1103|
|Eggs from the Netherlands||32.1|
|Eggs from the United States||15.5|
Anticoagulants and Vitamin K
People who have chosen to take anti-coagulant drugs as part of the medical management of their circulatory disorders must take care with the coagulant vitamin K.
They have a straight choice between natural and drug medicines as is their right. Anyone taking warfarin or other “blood thinning” drugs needs to be aware of their options and the possible dangers.
Last Words on Vitamins K1 and K2
Summing up, we have a powerful way of boosting the health of our blood in vitamin K1 found in green leafy vegetables and protecting our arteries and bones by taking K2, making vitamin K a vital part of our health care.
Not only that but there is preliminary evidence that vitamin K2 helps those with prostate cancer
Whether we decide to get it from our diet or from a high quality supplement is a choice for us but the priority is to make sure we get enough whether by eating the Vitamin K foods or by taking a good Vitamin K supplement.