The names for sauerkraut and vitamin K both originated from the German language. Sauerkraut means “sour cabbage” and vitamin K came from the German word “koagulation” because it plays such an important role in blood clotting. Sharing the same linguistic origin seems appropriate because sauerkraut is a source of vitamin K.
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Sauerkraut is made from cabbage that has been thinly sliced and allowed to ferment. Lactic acid forms as sugars in the cabbage ferment, giving sauerkraut its distinctive tangy flavor. Sauerkraut can be made at home by shredding or slicing cabbage, putting it into a glass container or stone crock and mixing about 3 tbsp. of salt in with each 5 lb. of cabbage, according to North Dakota State University. Pack the cabbage and salt mixture firmly into the container until the salt pulls juices from the cabbage. Use a plate on top to weigh down the cabbage and keep it under the fluid brine. Cover the container and let it sit at room temperature for three to six weeks.
About Vitamin K
One of only four fat-soluble vitamins, vitamin K occurs in several different forms and plays critical roles in the body. When blood clots, it goes through a series of steps, seven of which depend on the presence of vitamin K, according to the Linus Pauling Institute. Vitamin K is also essential for cellular functions and is needed for two proteins that regulate calcium; one that stimulates bone mineralization and another that prevents calcium from accumulating in arteries. The body does not store large quantities of vitamin K, so you need to obtain it on a regular basis through your diet. The recommended daily adequate intake for vitamin K is 90 to 130 mcg per day.
Vitamin K in Sauerkraut
One cup of drained sauerkraut provides 18.5 mcg of vitamin K. This represents 23 percent of the total recommended daily value based on a 2,000 calorie-a-day diet. One cup of sauerkraut eaten without draining the extra fluid has 135 mcg.
Other Health Benefits
Sauerkraut is a good source of antioxidants. One cup delivers 35 percent of the daily value of vitamin C, 12 percent of iron and 11 percent of manganese. Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that’s also needed for collagen, blood vessels and neurotransmitters. In addition to its role carrying oxygen in the blood, iron functions as an antioxidant protecting cells from the accumulation of hydrogen peroxide. Manganese is a trace element that serves as the principal antioxidant enzyme in the mitochondria, contributes to the formation of collagen and is used in the metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and cholesterol.