Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Vitamin K - another reason to avoid margarine

Vitamin K is one of the vitamins that people rarely hear about. This is because it is produced by bacteria in your large intestine. Therefore it is difficult to produce clinical deficiency in humans. Signs of clinical deficiency center around lack of blood clotting as vitamin K is an essential part of the blood clotting cascade.

However more research is coming out suggesting that intake of vitamin K is desirable. For example bone strength is dependent upon a enzyme that is powered by vitamin K. Sub optimal levels of vitamin K, leads to sub optimal bone strength. Clearly sub optimal bone strength is, or leads to, osteoporosis.

Because the belief that increasing vitamin K intake is a new thing, there is less known about information on vitamin K levels in foods than the other vitamins. Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin. Thus oils are a source of vitamin K in the diet.

If the oil gets turned into margarine eg hydrogenated, the vitamin K is also hydrogenated. It turns out, somewhat unsurprisingly, hydrogenated vitamin K is less biological activity than unhydrogenated vitamin K. What this means is that ingesting hydrogenated vitamin K leads to less enzyme activity than the same amount of normal vitamin K. Thus hydrogenated vitamin K is not as good for you. Furthermore in some enzymes hydrogenated vitamin K was unable to make some enzymes work.

Just another reason to avoid margarine.......

Reference: Booth et al A Hydrogenated form of vitamin K: Relative bio-availability and presence in the food supply. Journal of food composition and analysis vol 13 pg 311, 2000.

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