Named from the German “Koagulation”, vitamin K is essential for the proper functioning of the body from birth. Its benefits are numerous, both in everyday life and in the world of sport. A deficiency of this vitamin can also be fatal. What is vitamin K and what is the benefit of supplementing it? Nutrimuscle tells you everything there is to know about this vitamin.
- What is vitamin K?
- Vitamin K requirements
- What are the benefits of vitamin K?
- What are the benefits of vitamin K for sport?
What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K is an essential vitamin that is found in several forms: K1, K2 and K3. They form a group of fat-soluble vitamins and belong to the quinone family.
Vitamin K1 is of plant origin. It is involved in the coagulation process, from which it takes its name. ¨Among foods rich in vitamin K1, we find green vegetables (spinach, broccoli, asparagus), algae, rapeseed oil and even soybean oil.
The K2 form is of animal origin: it is synthesized by bacteria located in the intestines of mammals. This form has attracted the attention of scientists for only a decade, due to its action on bone mineralization and the cardiovascular system. It is also present in dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt) and liver.
Vitamin K3 is of synthetic origin and has been banned in the pharmaceutical industry in the United States. Its particularity is that it is three times more efficient than its two counterparts. However, it is no longer used in food supplements due to side effects: hemolytic anemia, nausea or even headaches. Its use continues in the veterinary environment and as an addition to livestock feed. It is sometimes found in the diet of people experiencing famine or in undernourished populations.
Vitamin K requirements
According to ANSES, the nutritional references for vitamin K1 are as follows:
Infants under 6 months: 5 mcg/day
Infants over 6 months: 10 mcg/day
Children aged 1 to 3 years: 29 mcg/day
Children aged 4 to 6 years: 42 mcg/day
Children aged 7 to 10 and adolescents aged 10 to 17: 45 mcg/d
18 years and over, pregnant and breastfeeding women: 79 µg/d
It is difficult to determine vitamin K deficiencies in the population, but it could affect between 30 and 70% of people. The populations most affected by vitamin K deficiency are children and adults over 40 years old. People who do not consume foods of animal origin and people who suffer from celiac disease also have greater needs for vitamin K than average. However, these are also the populations that best absorb this vitamin.
What are the benefits of vitamin K?
Vitamin K has many benefits, in all its forms.
First of all, vitamin K protects bone health. It guarantees the solidity of bone mineral mass, essential to the development of the human body. It helps fight against calcification of the arteries by participating in the movement of calcium towards the bone tissues. A sufficient intake of vitamin K allows the renewal of bone tissue and prevents related diseases, such as osteoporosis.
It also protects dental health , teeth being bones. By supporting osteocalcin, a protein responsible for bone calcification, vitamin K participates in the growth of dentin (the calcified tissue of the teeth) and the repair of the dental pulp. It prevents teething problems and regulates inflammation in this area.
This vitamin is also very important in blood clotting, from which it gets its name. It has a hemostatic role, that is to say it prevents hemorrhages. In addition, vitamin K is known for its healing properties. It allows the synthesis of prothrombin and activates coagulation factors II, VII, IX, X as well as proteins S, C and Z. These coagulation factors can remain inactive if there is not enough vitamin K and cause poor coagulation or poor healing.
Vitamin K protects the cardiovascular system and prevents heart disease. It could also slow down atherosclerosis, a phenomenon linked to a accumulation of cholesterol and limescale which lodges in the arteries. Together, they form atherosclerotic plaques that line the arteries and can affect the heart. Scientific studies have recently shown that a deficiency of vitamin K promotes arterial calcification and that supplementation of this vitamin ensures the health of the arteries.
What are the benefits of vitamin K for sport?
Sports enthusiasts have every interest in supplementing themselves, particularly with vitamin K2. Indeed, menaquinone (or vitamin K2) is found in food, but the quantities are too low to guarantee optimal intake.
In bodybuilding, strength exercises increase arterial stiffness in the long term. To avoid bleeding linked to “surges”, the arterial walls strengthen and lose their flexibility. This reaction is normal, but in the event of calcification, it can become dangerous and give rise to heart complications.
When jogging, microhemorrhages can occur due to the movement of the viscera during exercise. A vitamin K deficiency can cause episodes of anemia, or even rectal bleeding, in the most serious cases.
Vitamin K2 supplementation is ideal for continuous intake. Thus, it prevents the athlete's cardiovascular health by fighting against calcification.