Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Vitamin Series>>>>>Begins Now!


Today marks the beginning of a "Be Well Vitamin Series". We are going to delve into the nuances of the most essential vitamins you either know or knowing nothing about. We will do our best to keep things short sweet and to the point. One of the main things you must understand is that we are not speaking of pills or medicines when we deal with vitamins. We are strictly dealing with the RAW consumption of fruits and vegetables to obtain optimum nutrients yields. Nothing processed means more gained.

-----------------vitamin "K"

What can high-vitamin K foods do for you?

  • Allow your blood to clot normally
  • Help protect against osteoporosis
  • Prevent oxidative cell damage

What events can indicate a need for more high-vitamin K foods?

  • Excessive bruising and bleeding
  • Digestive system problems, especially malabsorption
  • Liver or gallbladder problems

Excellent sources of vitamin K include: spinach, Brussels sprouts, Swiss chard, green beans, asparagus, broccoli, kale and mustard greens. Very good sources include green peas and carrots.

What is vitamin K?

Vitamin K1, phylloquinone, is the plant form of this nutrient. Vitamin K2, menaquinone, is produced from K1 by the bacteria in animal and human intestines. Vitamin K3, menadione, is a synthetic version. Vitamin K1 is the form involved in healthy blood clotting, and also has anti-inflammatory effects through which it helps prevent excessive bone loss. Vitamin K2, which activates osteocalcin, the Matrix Gla protein responsible for moving calcium into bone, is the best form for protecting against osteoporosis. Vitamin K3 has been used in treating cancer, but this form is not allowed in nutritional supplements because of its history of serious adverse reactions.

What are the functions of vitamin K?

Blood clotting

Blood clotting is a vital function in the body that solidifies blood to prevent us from bleeding to death when a blood vessel is damaged either from an external wound or internally. Another benefit of blood clotting is that it secludes the area of an infection or injury and begins the healing process. Vitamin K1 is required to activate enzymes at many stages in the intricate clotting process called the clotting cascade. Without it, the amount of blood clotting proteins decreases and bleeding time increases. Vitamin K1 is best known as being required for blood to clot. Interestingly, it is also required to activate several proteins that decrease blood clotting. Thus, research is showing that vitamin K not only helps to initiate blood clotting, but it is also necessary for its complex regulation.

Protecting against osteoporosis

Fifty-five percent of Americans over the age of 50, or 44 million people, have osteoporosis. This condition of low bone mass will cause 1 out of every 2 women and 1 out of every 4 men over the age of 50 to have a fracture in her/his remaining lifetime. Researchers are finding increasing ways in which vitamin K helps maintain bone mass.

A study of more than 70,000 women found that women who consumed larger amounts of vitamin K in their diets had a lower risk of hip fracture. Other studies have looked at the amount of vitamin K circulating in women's blood and found that low levels were associated with lower bone mineral density and higher fracture rates. There are also reports that supplemental vitamin K decreases the amount of calcium a person loses in his or her urine. Additionally, vitamin K appears to be important for the formation of cartilage and dentine, part of teeth.

Vitamin K2 helps maintain bone mass because it is used to activate osteocalcin, the major noncollagen protein in bone. Activated osteocalcin anchors calcium molecules inside of the bone. Our bodies are able to convert some K1 into K2. Without enough vitamin K2, levels of activated osteocalcin are inadequate, so bone mineralization is impaired. Researchers are identifying other ways in which vitamin K aids bone health. For example, vitamin K may both prevent the formation and increase the rate at which osteoclasts, the cells that break down bone, die.

Vitamin K levels appear to decrease with age while the risk of fracture increases. Therefore, it is important for older individuals to include foods containing vitamin K in their diet. In addition to supplying vitamin K1, leafy green vegetables are rich sources of other nutrients important for bone health: calcium and boron. That makes leafy greens especially important for people who do not consume dairy products, since dairy products are a major contributor of both calcium and boron in the U.S. diet.

Protecting against oxidative cell damage

Although humans must breathe oxygen to stay alive, oxygen is a risky substance inside the body because its use can result in the production of free radicals. Unless quickly neutralized by antioxidants, these overly reactive, oxygen-containing molecules can damage the cell structures around them.

When vitamin K is used by an enzyme to alter proteins, it too is altered. This altered vitamin K is then regenerated and reused continuously in what is called the vitamin K cycle. During this cycle, vitamin K functions as an antioxidant, inactivating free radicals that would otherwise damage the delicate fats that are the primary constituents of our cell membranes.

Other roles for vitamin K

Researchers are discovering more and more potential functions for vitamin K, a nutrient which was originally appreciated only for its clotting function. Vitamin K is involved in the widespread conversion of certain proteins to forms that will bind calcium. The vitamin-K dependent enzyme responsible for this conversion is found in almost every organ and cell type for which it has been investigated. Since calcium is involved in numerous other activities in our bodies in addition to its use in bone formation, this suggests that vitamin K is important for more than just blood coagulation and bone formation. A few studies have pointed to a relationship between low vitamin K intake and hardened blood vessels. In addition, vitamin K may be active against tumors. Vitamin K may be involved in signaling cells to die that would otherwise multiply into a tumor.

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