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.

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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.