I just finished reading the results of a new study on vitamin K and its role in decreasing disability and increasing our mobility as we get older, and I want to share these latest findings.
We gerontologists, and many researchers worldwide, consistently focus on what we call “novel” risk factors affecting vibrant aging. These include things which further limit our mobility as we get older and decrease our ability to do what we want to do in our lives. With the number of adults living to sixty-five and older projected to double by 2050, anything and everything we can do to keep our bodies movin’ and groovin’ should get our attention.
Looking at the current stats, we find that 60% of men and 40% of women over sixty don’t get enough vitamin K in their diets. Because of this, we consider vitamin K a “shortfall nutrient” in older adults. Low levels of this important vitamin open us up to some rather unpleasant problems including worsening of some chronic diseases– cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis top the list. Physically, a slower gait speed and deteriorating physical performance was noted over the 4-5 years of follow up with the participants of the study. This led researchers to conclude that not enough vitamin K could be associated with mobility disability as we age. We already know vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting and maintaining healthy bones—another factor keeping us up and moving around. Some sobering news: alcoholics are at a much higher risk for vitamin K deficiency. Also at risk are those with digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease and cystic fibrosis, which make fat absorption more difficult.
Of course there is good news and delicious ways to up our vitamin K! Please check with your health practitioner, DIFM, or RDN* before adding things into your diet as folks on blood thinners could have contraindications.
My bevy of experts recommend striving for 90-100 mcg per day for women, and 120 mcg for men.
Here is my list. Remember, organic is always the way to go, if possible, to help limit our exposure to more harmful chemicals.
The Delicious List of Vitamin K-Packed Foods:
- Kale (565 mcg per ½ cup, cooked)
- Collard Greens (530 mcg per ½ cup, cooked)
- Spinach (444 mcg per ½ cup, cooked, raw 146 mcg per cup)
- Turnip Greens (425 per ½ cup, cooked)
- Brussel Sprouts (150 mcg per ½ cup, cooked)
- Broccoli (85 mcg per ½ cup, cooked)
- Asparagus (72 mcg per ½ cup, cooked)
- Romaine Lettuce (60 mcg per 1 cup, raw)
- Sauerkraut (56 mcg per ½ cup)
- Edamame (25 mcg per ½ cup, boiled)
- Pickles (25 mcg per cucumber dill or kosher dill)
- Pumpkin (20 mcg per ½ cup, canned)
- Pine Nuts (15 mcg per ounce)
- Blueberries– Ahhhhh, a fruit! (14 mcg per ½ cup)
A good quality multi-vitamin, one from the health food store, can also help with low levels of vitamin K. However, because eating the food in its whole state whether it’s fresh or frozen with its many other vitamins and minerals gives us extra help in staying healthy and mobile, I recommend starting your vitamin K regimen by adding some of the foods listed above into your daily meal plan. Here’s to rockin’ our way through our silver years!
Until next time…Be Vibrant!
* DIFM: Dietitians in Integrative and Functional Medicine/ RDN: Registered Dietitian Nutritionist