Vitamin K

Vitamins, minerals, natural compounds and supplements

It’s only natural

Eat Your Greens


Vitamin K is a poorly studied vitamin. But recent advances in our knowledge are showing that it has real anti-cancer benefits, especially with Liver cancer. Indeed, a major rethink is necessary on the daily levels we need. 2010 research (American Journal of Nutrition) shows that people with the highest intake of vitamin K have the lowest risk of cancer and a 30 per cent reduction in mortality if they do have cancer.

It was given the name ’K’ as it was originally identified by German scientists as a vitamin responsible for ’koagulation’. Worldwide, only a handful of researchers study vitamin K, although it has been long known for its role in blood clotting. Apart from this you will find mentions of its involvement with bone health but little else. Most web sites report that the vitamin is in abundant supply, and this may be why it gets so little press. Well, it’s time to think again.

The RDA is only 65 micrograms for women and 80 for men but this will have to be adjusted as it looks like vitamin K is nowhere near as abundant as was first thought.

Sarah Beth of Tufts University at Boston has looked into the vitamin in some detail. Analysing 2000 households, she discovered that whilst the over 60’s are OK, the 18-44 age group just don’t get enough, and not even the RDA.

Phylloquinone, one form of vitamin K (vitamin K1), is found in some oils, especially soy bean oil and in dark leafy green vegetables such as spinach or broccoli. One serving of either of these two will provide four to five times the RDA. However we are just not eating enough greens. And we now know we need to eat them every day. The fact that vitamin K is fat soluble was thought to mean we would all have large stores and reserves. It has now been found that this is just not the case and we need to top up our levels daily. Which, of course, most of us do not. Another form of vitamin K is synthesised by bacteria - including those in our bodies. Again, because of factors from chlorine to antibiotics, we don’t seem to be getting the amounts we had thought originally. And then there is another ’form’ which we make ourselves from phylloquinone, in a unique biochemical pathway. What this does and why has puzzled many.

Hydrogenation of oils produces another form of vitamin K and, whilst as much as 30 per cent of 18-44’s intake comes from this form, it is far less biologically active.

What is commonly understood is that vitamin K controls the formation of coagulation factors in the body plasma in the liver. Anticoagulants, such as warfarin, produce a reaction directly opposite to vitamin K. YOU SHOULD NOTE THAT EATING LARGE AMOUNTS OF GREENS OR SUPPLEMENTING WITH VITAMIN K IS NOT ADVISED IF YOU HAVE BEEN PRESCRIBED ANTICOAGULANTS. In a recent study of post-menopausal women though, a low dietary intake of vitamin K was associated with increased risk of aortic calcification. In other words vitamin K seems to stop calcification and hardening of the arteries.

If you are thinking of buying Vitamin K, you might like to look at the Natural Selection Product of Choice. You can do this by clicking here.

Vitamin K is now seen as essential for calcification of bones. Three bone matrix proteins are vitamin K dependent, and vitamin K and vitamin D have been shown to act jointly in several reactions. Bolton-Smith (University of Dundee 2007) suggested vitamin K enhanced the effects of vitamin D and that’s how it contributes to bone health. Two epidemology studies - one the Boston Nurses Study involving 72,000 women over 10 years, the other the Framingham study with 800 elderly men - showed that adults with the lowest intakes of vitamin K had 30 per cent more hip fractures than those who consumed the most.

So vitamin K seems to play an important role in hardening of the arteries and heart disease, and in Osteoporosis - two increasingly common diseases.

So Whats it Got to Do With Cancer?

Open quotesVitamin K is not even toxic at 500 times the RDA so there are few problems with dosageClose quotes

Where it all starts to get interesting is that vitamin K plays a role in the carboxylation of glutamic acid, and everybody had focussed on this process with bones and how the glutamate salts combine with vitamin D and calcium. But elsewhere, glutamic acid and calcium ions play a role in cell membranes and even the oxygenation process in the Krebs cycle - the very oxygen consuming, energy production cycle that can go wrong when a healthy cell becomes an oxygen hating cancer cell.

Then in 1993 came the finding that a vitamin K dependent protein, found throughout the nervous system, heart, lungs, stomach, kidney and cartilage systems, is both a cell growth regulating factor and has cell signalling activities.

And now recent research is quite clear It has an anti-cancer effect and is useful in the treatment of many different types of cancer including liver, colon, stomach, leukaemia, lung and breast.

Here things get a little complicated as there are several forms of vitamin K, designated K1, K2, C and so on. (3 is a synthetic derivative, whilst K2 is a bacterially produced variant.

K1 can be taken with chemotherapy to improve its effectiveness. Yoshida et al, Tokyo Medical University nt. of Oncology Sept. 2003 have shown (2 has an in-vitro effect on lung cancer cells, squamous cells and adenocarcinomas. This follows work showing apoptosis with leukaemia cells. These researchers actually recommended K2 as "safe medicine without prominent adverse effects including bone marrow suppression". Levels up to 75 micrograms were used.

Lamson DW and Plaza SM of Bastyr University. Washington have showed that the natural vitamins K1 and K2 are just as effective as the synthetic K3 and work by oxidation and modification as anti-cancer agents. Both K1 and K2 "may act at the level of tyrosine kinases and phosphatases. They are affected by vitamin K, which can lead to cell cycle arrest and cell death" (August 2003 Alt Med. Rev) They went on to show that six out of 30 patients with liver cancer had their disease stabilised after taking vitamin K. This could be extremely significant research.

To achieve the levels used in the test would be almost impossible just by eating green leafy vegetables, and supplementation is essential. (Take with a meal as vitamin K is fat-soluble).

Vitamin K is not even toxic at 500 times the RDA so there are few problems with dosage, unless you are taking anti-coagulants. 2000 to 3000 micrograms seems to be the new level for cancer prevention coming from the US. 2000 to 3000 micrograms is often the recommended level for prevention.

There has been quite a lot of comment about vitamin K intake for pregnant women as a way of minimising childhood leukaemia. However Fear et al (sic 2003; 891) found no connection between the lack of vitamin K and this disease. Another study by Dr Koike at Tokyo University indicated that vitamin K slows the spread of liver cancer. 59 per cent of patients treated with vitamin K were alive two years after the test started, whereas only 29 per cent of the control group were.

Open quotesAs usual, our modern diets put our young at higher riskClose quotes

Dr Koike said that K, the synthetic form, might be more effective than K1 and K2 as it has been shown to interfere with electron transfer in the cancer cell mitochondria. It is not permitted in Japan.


Yet again, just like vitamin D, we are only really at the start of our voyage of discovery on the biochemistry of vitamin K. Clearly vitamin K has an effect on the notoriously difficult to treat liver cancer and there is definitely something worth exploring here.

And as usual, our modern diets, lack of greens, broccoli and spinach, put our young at higher risk. Again, as with vitamin D, RDAs have been set before the crucial biochemistry is fully understood. Yet again the politicians are at odds with scientists, Supplementation, if you can’t eat well, may be advisable. 

If you are thinking of buying Vitamin K, you might like to look at the Natural Selection Product of Choice. You can do this by clicking here.  

At last - the definitive, research-based book on how to build a diet to help beat cancer. Click here to read about it. (New second edition)

Please be clear: At CANCERactive we do not consider the above compound to be a cure for cancer, despite what the research says or experts doing the research may claim. The above, is an article on the compound from published research and expert opinion in the public domain. At CANCERactive we do not believe that any single compound (drug, vitamin, whatever) is a cure for cancer. We believe that people can significantly increase their personal odds of survival by building an Integrated Programme of treatments. Equally, cancer prevention is best practiced through a width of measures. 

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