Why we need it and where we can find it
There are certain nutrients that, from a very young age, we all know that we should take care to ingest – vitamin C and iron are the prime examples. But what of all the other essential vitamins and minerals that we need in our diet to stay healthy? What are they, why do we need them, and where can we find them? During the next few months we’ll be looking at all of the secret stars that keep us fit and well, continuing with vitamin K.
Why Do We Need Vitamin K?
Although not as widely talked about as its other vitamin friends, vitamin K plays an essential role in human wellbeing. A fat-soluble vitamin, it works to help us build strong bones, prevent heart disease, and perhaps most notably of all is responsible for helping our blood to clot so that any wounds can heal properly.
Adults need 0.001mg a day of vitamin K for each kilogram of their body weight.
Where Can We Find Vitamin K?
You should be able to get all the vitamin K you need from your daily diet – any excess is stored in the liver for future use, so you don't need it in your diet every day.
Five Foods Rich in Vitamin K
Broccoli belongs to the cruciferous vegetable family (kale, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts) and like all its relatives is bursting with goodness. It contains more vitamins K and C than almost anything else, but it’s also a good source of folic acid and the B vitamin.
They may not be the most universally popular of veggies, but sprouts are tremendously good for us. Vitamins K and C are the most plentiful nutrients in sprouts, but they also score well on the B1, B2, B6 and folic acid fronts. I’m actually quit a sprout fan and this is the best time of year to eat them in the UK, as they need frost to develop a milder flavour.
Kale has been heralded as a ‘super food’ recently; it’s packed with natural goodness – iron, fibre, calcium and pretty much all of the vitamins… Including K. It’s also completely fat-free, incredibly low in calories, and incredibly cheap to buy. While I’m not one who can sing the praises of the kale smoothie, it is fantastic when wilted with garlic, butter and sliced almonds.
Along with kale, spinach is probably best known for its iron content, but it’s also packed with vitamins A and C and is a great source of fibre. Personally, I favour it in a fresh salad, or cooked in feta filo parcels, but it’s great in pasta, soups, or even on its own.
As well as vitamins C and K, spring onions contain carotenoids, which help to protect eye health, chromium, which helps to regulate blood sugar, and sulphur, which is useful for lowering blood pressure.