The human body periodically needs additional nutrition in the form of vitamin D and K. They are able to normalize the work of some vital body systems and improve health.
But, according to some claims, the inclusion of vitamin D in the diet poses a certain danger to the body if a person experiences an acute lack of vitamin K. In this article, we will find out if this is really the case.
What you need to know about vitamins D and K
Both of the above microelements belong to the number of fat-soluble nutrients. This means that the assimilation of vitamins D and K improves when they are consumed simultaneously with fats. In addition, most often these nutrients are found in foods that include a large amount of fat.
Vitamin D, which is also often called “sunny”, is found in fish oil and oily fish. In addition, it is produced by the human body as a result of exposure to UV radiation on the skin. One of the main functions of this trace element is to improve the process of assimilation of calcium, which allows you to maintain a normal level of the latter substance in the blood. Scientists note that vitamin D deficiency in some cases is one of the main causes of bone loss.
The main sources of vitamin K are legumes, vegetables, leafy greens, as well as some animal products, such as eggs, liver, and cheese. This trace element is necessary for improving blood coagulation, as well as the accumulation of calcium in bone tissue.
Relationship between vitamins D and K
During the metabolic processes related to calcium, vitamins D and K have a complex effect. At the same time, each of them performs its important function.
Functions of vitamin D
The most significant function of the “sunny” vitamin is the normalization of calcium levels in the blood. There are 2 mechanisms of this nutrient that provide the appropriate result:
- improvement of the process of assimilation of calcium obtained from food products;
- the use of calcium from bone tissue in the event of a deficiency, which in some cases leads to increased bone fragility.
According to the statement of scientists, maintaining a normal level of calcium in the blood is very important for a person. This is due to the fact that this trace element is not only responsible for the condition of bone tissue, but is also used to perform a number of important processes in the body. In this regard, under conditions of insufficient calcium consumption, the body uses this trace element, extracting it from bone tissue, even if there is a risk of developing osteoporosis.
Should I use vitamin D without vitamin K?
These properties of vitamins D and K cause concern in some people. They are afraid that the use of the “sunny” vitamin without the addition of vitamin K can cause calcification of blood vessels, which will eventually lead to a malfunction of the cardiovascular system and the development of relevant diseases.
It is worth noting that this fear is completely justified. Currently, there are several studies that support this theory:
- a high level of vitamin D can cause the development of hypercalcemia – a condition in which there is an excessively high level of calcium in the blood;
- hypercalcemia causes calcification of blood vessels. This also leads to an increased phosphorus level in the blood and the accumulation of substances dangerous to health on the walls of blood vessels;
- calcification, according to doctors, is one of the most common causes of heart disease;
- low levels of vitamin K also increase the risk of calcification;
- studies show that consuming a large amount of vitamin K in the diet prevents the calcification process;
- in one of the studies, scientists found that taking 500 mcg of vitamin K daily for 3 years can slow down the rate of calcification of blood vessels by 6%;
- another study found that people who took vitamin K supplements had significantly less cardiovascular disease.
In other words, a high level of vitamin D in the blood can cause the development of calcification of blood vessels, while the inclusion of vitamin K supplements in the diet can prevent this process. And while the research findings are encouraging, there are a few points worth considering. So, for example, it remains unclear whether small doses of this nutrient can harm the body with long-term intake.
In 2007, one of the nutritionists suggested that adding a large amount of vitamin D to the diet could contribute to vitamin K deficiency. However, to confirm this theory, a number of additional studies are needed.
As of today, there is no convincing evidence that the inclusion of vitamin D in the diet without the use of supplements with vitamin K can be dangerous for health. But today a lot of research is being conducted in this direction. Therefore, in the near future, we will receive more accurate information.
How to ensure saturation of the body with vitamin K
Today, vitamin K is produced in several forms, which are conventionally divided into two groups:
phylloquinone, or vitamin K1, is the most common form of the nutrient found in plant-based foods such as spinach and kale;
menaquinone, or vitamin K2 – is found mainly in products of animal origin, as well as in some fermented foods.
The latter form, in turn, is a family of compounds consisting of menaquinone-7 (MK-7) and menaquinone-4 (MK-4). The latter can be obtained from sources such as egg yolk, cheese, and liver, while the former is formed as a result of bacterial fermentation and is found exclusively in fermented foods. It is important to note that MK-7 can also be generated in the human body by intestinal bacteria.
Despite such a wide variety, nutritionists and doctors do not separate vitamins K1 and K2 according to the type of action and level of usefulness. Therefore, regardless of the form, it is recommended to take from 90 to 120 milligrams of vitamin K per day for women and men, respectively.
Due to the fact that vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient, its use together with fatty foods can improve absorption. So, for example, leafy greens can be used in combination with oil, and supplements can be taken simultaneously with fatty food. But you shouldn’t pay too much attention to this, since most sources of vitamin K have a high-fat content.
Although vitamin K does not pose a danger to the human body, it can interact with some medications. Therefore, before including the appropriate supplements in the diet, be sure to consult a doctor.
Scientists are still studying the main functions of vitamins D and K. They do not fully know the mechanism of interaction of these nutrients, but each study allows us to learn something new.
Today, only one thing is clear – vitamin K can improve the condition of the cardiovascular system and bone tissue. However, it remains unclear whether high doses of vitamin D without including vitamin K in the diet can harm the body. Even so, it’s worth making sure you’re getting enough of these nutrients in your diet, as they’re both essential for good health.