Green Leafy Vegetables, Vitamin K and Chlorophyll: Facts you Need to Know

Looking to add more vitamin K to your diet? Ever hear the phrase, “eat a rainbow of vegetables”? That’s because each different color vegetable contain a different set of vitamins and minerals.  Leafy green vegetables such as kale, collard greens, broccoli, etc.,are a terrific source of lots of vitamins. But they are top of the list when it comes to vitamin K. One of the few vitamins the body can make on its own, vitamin K is imperative to help with blood clotting and bones.  

Why do we need Vitamin K?  

When you get a cut, notice how at first it bleeds a lot, and then it slows down.  Part of the clotting process is thanks to the help of vitamin K. The blood clot slows and stops the bleeding, so you don’t lose too much blood.  

When babies are born, their stores of vitamin K are inadequate until the bacteria in the gut can produce vitamin K on its own, and the baby can obtain the vitamin from formula or breastmilk.  Vitamin K is so critical, that in the United States, shortly after birth in the hospital, newborns typically receive a vitamin K injection. This is to prevent hemorrhagic disease, a bleeding problem that can occur in a baby during the first few days of life. 

Vitamin K is imperative for not only blood clotting, but our bone health too. Vitamin D and calcium are frequently touted about when it comes to bone health, but vitamin K is also an essential vitamin when it comes to bones.  Studies have found that vitamin K can not only increase bone mineral density in osteoporotic people but can help reduce fracture rates. Not consuming enough increases the risk of osteoporosis and a decrease in bone strength.  

Our bodies can make some vitamin K naturally.  It’s made in our large intestines from the bacteria in our gut. While this is a pretty awesome thing our body does, we still need to obtain some from our diet. 

The Top Sources of Vitamin K include: 

  • kale 
  • mustard greens
  • swiss chard
  • broccoli
  • spinach
  • brussel sprouts

You can also obtain Vitamin K from non-vegetables such as beef liver, pork chops, chicken, prunes, and kiwi. 

One thing to always pay attention to when it comes to vitamin K is that it does interact with anticoagulants.  If you’re taking an anticoagulant, such as Warfarin, you will need to work with a dietitian or physician to ensure you’re consuming the same amount of vitamin K every day.  The physician will typically adjust your medication dosage based on the foods you consume.  

Cool Scientific Facts About Green Vegetables

Ever wonder where leafy green vegetables get their spectacular green color?  Remember having to learn about chlorophyll in science class? The pigment, chlorophyll is present in all green vegetables. For instance, lettuce, spinach, collard greens, and broccoli. Well, plants make the green pigment chlorophyll during photosynthesis.  This is the process that allows plants to absorb energy from the sun to grow. 

Let’s go back to the pigment, chlorophyll.  The crazy thing…. when put in an acid, the pigment converts from chlorophyll to pheophytin. When this happens, the bright green color changes to olive green. Ever notice how canned green beans have more of an olive-green color than fresh green beans? This is because the canned green beans turn color because acids are released during the canning process, but unable to escape. 

On the other end of the spectrum, what happens if you try cooking a green vegetable like broccoli in water and add a little baking soda? The water turns more alkaline, the opposite of acidic.  Your broccoli will then have a bright green color.  But, while bright green broccoli may look appealing, it becomes soft and mushy when cooked in baking soda.  Check out this article on how to cook the most perfect broccoli

Looking for other recipes to spruce up your vitamin K intake? Below are a few of my favorites! 

Best Southern Collard Greens

Roasted Brussel Sprouts with Garlic

57 Kales Recipes That Go Way Beyond Salad

Also, check out my other cool post on Creating a Healthy Gut with Pre & Probiotics