My son is a big fan of singing the "A, B, Cs" as he walks around the house. Of course, he doesn't know it yet, but the A, B, Cs are also things his mom thinks about, though not always out loud or in rhyme. Vitamins A, B, and C are absolutely essential to a healthy lifestyle.
But there's another vitamin that people dedicated to a healthy eating and lifestyle plan often overlook, possibly because it comes right in the middle of the alphabet (and once you have to take a breath in that song, everyone seems to stumble): Vitamin K.
- aids the liver in producing blood clotting proteins,
- strengthens bones, and
- may help prevent cardiovascular disease.
In fact, a 2010 study from the Mayo Clinic suggests that Vitamin K may help prevent the development of non-Hodgkin Lymphoma.
Much like Vitamin B, the Vitamin K isn't one vitamin, but rather a combination of three: K1, K2 and the synthetic K3. While researchers previously thought Vitamin K deficiencies were uncommon, there is increasing evidence that many people are missing out on the health benefits of at least Vitamin K2. Plus, your likelihood of being deficient in both K1 and K2 increases if you suffer from Crohn's disease or if you're taking antibiotics, antacids, aspirin, or blood thinners. Considering how common antibiotics, antacids and aspirin are, it's best to make sure you're getting the proper daily value of Vitamin K in your diet.
Here are a few sources of Vitamin K that you can add to your diet to ensure you're getting your daily dose:
Vitamin K1: K1 is readily available in dozens of foods, and you're probably already eating them if you're pursuing a well-rounded, healthy eating plan. To ensure you're getting the maximum amount of Vitamin K, opt for leafy greens like spinach, broccoli and kale. Fruit and veggies - healthy eating staples - are also excellent sources of Vitamin K. Try peaches, red bell peppers, yellow squash, and papaya.
Vitamin K2: Even people dedicated to healthy eating may find themselves deficient in Vitamin K2, as it is more difficult to come across in food. Both meats and eggs are an excellent source, and fermented dairy (milk and cheeses) contain K2, but remember to consume only raw (or at least organic) dairy. Natto, a staple of Japanese cuisine is probably the best food source of K2, but its consistency and smell generally turn people off. Plus, it's made from soybeans, so you don't want to eat too much of it, if any at all.