Vitamin K got its name from the German word for blood clotting, koagulation. As you might guess, that's because the vitamin helps your blood plug holes to stop bleeding and heal wounds. Vitamin K also helps proteins bind with calcium, and may keep your bones strong. Bacteria in your gut can make a small amount of Vitamin K, but you should still eat your vegetables.
What Types of Food Have Vitamin K?
Vitamin K in the World: Danish Discoveries
The Danish chemist Henrik Dam wanted to know if baby chicks could produce their own cholesterol. He fed them a diet without any cholesterol, and found that they could synthesize it. But the chicks started bruising under their wings, and then hemorrhaging fatally. Dam found that in removing the cholesterol from chicken feed he had accidentally also removed a nutrient required for normal blood clotting—Vitamin K. His Nobel Prize in 1943 was protested by chickens everywhere.
Click on the buttons to see how Vitamin K plays a role in your:
- Digestive System
- Hematological System
Vitamins can be fat-soluble or water-soluble. Vitamin K is fat-soluble, which means it only dissolves in fat. This makes a big difference for how our body absorbs it. Here, we see Vitamin K from our food entering our stomach.
Vitamin K then moves from the stomach into our small intestine. Here, if it were water-soluble, it would move right into our cells, which are full of water. Since it doesn’t dissolve in water, it can’t be absorbed just yet.
Your liver has many functions, one of which is to produce proteins that help your blood clot.
After these clotting proteins are made in the liver, they need to be modified slightly before they are fully functional. Vitamin K is essential to the modification process.
Once modified, these clotting proteins travel through your bloodstream, ready for action. If they come across a damaged blood vessel, they work with other components of your blood to create a clot and stop the bleeding. Next time you cut your finger, be thankful that you ate your spinach.