School of Life Sciences | Ask A Biologist

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Vitamin K and Biotin

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  • Platelet: a small cell fragment without a nucleus that helps stop blood the flow of blood when the body is injured.
  • Protein: a type of molecule found in the cells of living things, made up of special building blocks called amino acids.
  • Vitamin: molecules found in the cells of living things that are needed for growth. They come from the food you eat, and cannot be made in the body... more

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Vitamin K

vitamin kEver scraped a knee, or had a paper cut? You might not realize it but your body is actually very busy keeping you healthy and strong. As soon as you get a cut or a scratch, your body springs into action to repair it. The first step is to stop the bleeding. The blood vessels around the area tighten so less blood flows there. Small discs called platelets rush to the scene and stick together in clumps inside the broken blood vessels.

veggiesClotting proteins in the blood help hold the platelets in place. The process of blood forming clots is called coagulation. Your body needs Vitamin K to make clotting proteins. Vitamin K is also important for strong bones. It helps with the storing of minerals in your bones, which makes them denser and less likely to break.

Fortunately, it’s very easy for your body to get enough Vitamin K. Some of your Vitamin K comes from the food you eat. It’s found in leafy green plants like broccoli, spinach, and Brussels sprouts. One more good reason to listen to your parents when they tell you it’s important to eat your vegetables!  Vitamin K is also made inside your body by the bacteria in your gut.

Biotin

biotinBiotin is also known as Vitamin H and Vitamin B7. It helps with cell growth and helps convert sugars to chemical energy your body can use. It also plays a role in keeping blood sugar levels steady, which is especially important for people with diabetes.  Biotin helps keep skin, the digestive tract, and nerves healthy. Your body does not store extra biotin. Instead, it uses what it needs at the moment and gets rid of the extra as waste.

Bacteria in your gut make most of the biotin in your body. Fortunately, they’re very good at this. These hard-working bacteria make way more biotin than your body will ever need. Thanks to these little guys, it’s extremely rare for your body not to have enough biotin.

To learn more about what vitamins and minerals your body needs to stay healthy and strong, visit our ABC’s of Vitamins page.

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Additional images from Wikimedia via Infrogmation (cesar salad).

salad

Salads are a great source of getting Vitamin K for your body.

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salad

Salads are a great source of getting Vitamin K for your body.

book icon” title=“book icon Microbes

Story Behind the Scenes

 

For Teachers

Download comic as PDF packet
or
Get a MagCloud version for print or iPad

Share to Google Classroom

Be part of Ask A Biologist

by volunteering, or simply sending us feedback on the site. Scientists, teachers, writers, illustrators, and translators are all important to the program. If you are interested in helping with the website we have a Volunteer page to get the process started.