Extremely vital

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

Micronutrients that prevent BeriBeri were suggested to be chemical amines until found otherwise; therefore, they were called vital amines meaning amine for life. From this, the English word – Vitamins was coined. Vitamins are vital nutrients which are required by the body in small amounts but cannot be sufficiently synthesized by the body. They are classified by their diverse biological and chemical activities not by structure. They are used in multiple reactions where they perform multiple functions. Vitamins are classified into water soluble vitamins B and C and fat soluble vitamins A,D,E and K.

Vitamin K is stored in fat tissues and in the liver. It is subdivided into non-toxic vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone) and synthetic toxic vitamin K3 (menadione).K1 is predominantly synthesized by plants while K2 is synthesized by normal bacterial flora found in the human intestines and also involved in fermentation.

The ‘K’ from Vit K was got from the German word –‘koagulationsvitamins’. This describes the role of this vitamin in the effective clotting of blood; reducing or stopping excessive bleeding. However, its function goes beyond clotting as it is also effective in maintaining bone health; helping to keep Calcium out of the arteries and in the bones. Gla proteins known as osteocalcin which allow Calcium to bind to bone matrix and is essential for proper Calcium metabolism, cannot be fully activated without adequate Vitamin K. Urologists combined Vitamins K and C in treating prostate cancer patients who failed therapy. Decreased velocity rise in PSA levels and increase in the time taken for PSA to double was observed in such patients1.Vitamin K has been effective in treating burns, scars, stretch marks, and bruises.

The recommended daily allowance for Vit K is 120mcg for men and 90mcg for women. Absorption of Vit K by the body can be inhibited by some health problems such as Crohn’s disease, Gall bladder disease etc. The use of blood thinners, alcoholism and malnourishment also inhibit absorption of Vit K but absorption can be enhanced by consumption with fatty foods. Deficiency of this vitamin is rare but could result in excessive bleeding, heavy menstrual flow, calcification of arteries and weakening of bones. Vitamin K is not destroyed by heat but could be destroyed by freezing.

By Ifeyinwa Ugo-Amadi

1Tareen B. et al.(2008) A 12 week, open label, phase I/IIa study using apatone for the treatment of prostate cancer patients who have failed standard therapy. Int J Med Sci.;5(2):62-7.

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