Vitamin K: Beyond Clotting

Thursday, 23 September 2010 by | Comments: 2
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Q & A with Sarah L. Booth, PhD
Senior Scientist and Director, Vitamin K Lab, Tufts University

Vitamin K is one of those nutrients that has lost its position as a vital component of nutritional therapy as it was thought that so little was required. But along with vitamin A this nutrient, due to more sophisticated investigation options is now getting some well deserved respect and it is becoming clear that it impacts on many aspects of health – maybe this will gain as much respect as Vitamin D in the coming years.[1],[2]

Focus: So, let’s talk about vitamin K. Why don’t we hear more about this fat soluble vitamin?

SB: The vitamin K research community is extremely small, and we don’t have the volume of publications that the other fat soluble nutrients have. We’re probably decades behind in research findings. Vitamin K was identified for its role in blood clotting but we need very little for blood clotting. The body seems to be exquisite at taking what it needs to support clotting, and we don’t have a public health problem associated with abnormal bleeding. Our current dietary recommendations for vitamin K are based on the amount that’s ideal for clotting—90 micrograms a day for women and 120 micrograms a day for men.

Tagged under: , ,
Reading Time: 12 minutes

Krispin Sullivan is a licensed clinical nutritionist and educator, and author of Naked at Noon: Understanding the Importance of Sunlight and Vitamin D. She received her degree in dietetics at the University of Vermont in 1968, and her certification in nutrition from the National Institute of Nutrition Education in 1988. She is former director of the nutrition program for Northern California Recovery Systems in Mill Valley, California, and is licensed by the state of California to teach nutrition in post-secondary schools. She currently resides in Incline Village, Nevada, and is studying the microbiome in humans, and writing a book on microbial gut inhabitants as a protective shield.
Her website is

Tagged under: ,

Vitamin A: The Key to A Tolerant Immune System?

Wednesday, 18 August 2010 by | Comments: 16
Reading Time: 9 minutes

By Michael Ash, BSc(Hons). DO. ND. FellowDipION

Vitamin D and Vitamin A are essential co-partners in immunological and bone health.[1],[2] I’m particularly excited about vitamin A because of its profound effects on the gut mucosal immune system—a specialty of mine. Just as vitamin D has attracted attention for its ability to increase antimicrobial peptides and help us defeat pathogens, it’s fascinating to me that vitamin A is also essential for the very tissues that protect us from the same pathogens.

The availability of vitamin A in our food is a key factor in a tolerant, highly functional immune system. To quote from the title of a brilliant commentary in the March 2008 issue of Nature’s Mucosal Immunology, “Vitamin A rewrites the ABCs of oral tolerance.”[3]

Vitamin A is crucial to a very sophisticated bi-directional mechanism that takes place in the digestive system and leads to immune tolerance across the entire gut lining. Immune tolerance is the essence of good health. An intolerant immune system will lead to a wide range of illnesses, and the gut is where many people first lose immune tolerance. Vitamin A (retinoic acid) is key to our ability to consume a wide range of antigens (food) and yet not react adversely, and it’s quite fascinating.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Inside our gastrointestinal tract live a family of specialised cells, co-dependent on bacteria and nutrients to send a calming message to the mucosal tissues. They have a number of variations in their make up but they are vital in their role as diplomats, passing sensitive information across the borders to provide a long term peaceful mission and maintain oral tolerance. Essentially they induce either protective immunity to infectious agents or tolerance to innocuous antigens, including food and commensal bacteria. This recent article out in the Journal of Clinical Investigation explores the current understanding of how these cells contribute to health and illness.[1]

Reading Time: 19 minutes

The saying is ‘what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas’, or if you are English ‘what happens in Blackpool….’ but the same cannot be said about what happens in utero, as increasing evidence supports the understanding that the maternal nutritional environment and early feeding affects the health of the foetus beyond infancy and into adulthood.[1],[2] An article in Nature’s Mucosal Immunology this month explores some of the key events in foetal and neonatal immune management.[3] It stimulated a revisit to the area of what to consider for parents to be and mums of young children when they ask ‘is there anything I can do to prevent or reduce the risk of allergy or atopy in my child’.

The first moments, weeks and months of life can determine the health outcomes of an individual over the duration of their lifetime and this knowledge represents a significant choice for prospective parents. Fortunately the remarkable adaptability of the immune and central nervous system means that there are numerous opportunities in the early years of life to positively influence health outcomes even if the early stages were less than optimal.