During the early 20th century, a Danish scientist by the name of Henrik Dam was studying the effects of diet on livestock, particularly chickens and chicks. When reducing the amount of cholesterol in the diet of the chickens, he noticed an increased tendency for bleeding to go on rampantly. However, when he reintroduced the cholesterol, the effects were not reversed. There was something going on that allowed these chickens to clot. Meanwhile, infants around the world were suffering from similar diseases, with hemorrhaging disorders claiming lives shortly after birth. What was going on?
Why Vitamin K is part of your essential emergency supplies
After joining forces with Edward Doisy of St. Louis University, Dam was able to isolate the compound that was responsible for allowing the chicks to stop bleeding. He named it Koagulationsvitamin for it’s importance in coagulation, which has since been shortened to Vitamin K. Since the discovery, it has entered medicine in the form of injections, which are routinely administered to newborns and people who experience serious bleeding issues.
In the modern world, nutritional deficiency of vitamin K is rare. However there are many conditions in which vitamin k absorption is impaired or clotting is reduced. In addition, vitamin K plays a key role in bone health; Glakay, an anti-osteoporosis drug used in Japan, is actually a form of vitamin K.
Different forms, different sources
Vitamin K comes in two forms in nature, K1 and K2. Like some of the other vitamins we have gone over, they represent the forms available in plants (K1 or phylloquinone) and animals (K2 or menaquinone). K2 has shown a better track record of preventing bone loss, although K1 has been shown to prevent bone damage among the elderly as well. Within the body, K1 can be converted into K2 at about 90%.
The best way to supplement C vitamins, in home and in the field
K1 is found in green leafy vegatables, darker green indicates more vitamin content. Kale – shown above has some of the best content available. Vitamin K2 is found in animal sources, particularly fatty ones. Liver, cheese, butter and eggs are among the best sources available.
Because of the conversion ratio, the form of vitamin K is not really a factor. But preppers looking to live on a diet of stored grain should be cautious to diversify their diet. Perhaps foraging for local edible herbs like Chris Nyerges or raising livestock like David Sarti would allow someone to supplement. If bugging out, synthetic forms of K2 can be used as well – K2 is commonly known as MK4 in vitamin form. Regardless of what form you take, Vitamin K must be considered. Bleeding and bone breakage are two things that could be common in a post-apocalyptic world – so know your vitamins!