Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays a role in blood clotting. Vitamin K activates the protein that clots the blood.
It is also needed for the synthesis of bone proteins. A vitamin K deficiency can lead to heart disease, weakened bones, tooth decay and cancer.
Much of the vitamin K in our diets comes from the intestinal bacteria we already have, because of this, your vitamin K levels can depend greatly on the health of your gut.
There are two types of vitamin K we have in our diet, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is found in vegetables where vitamin K2 also called menaquinone is found in dairy products and produced by the bacteria in your gut.
When looking to supplement or add to your diet, vitamin K2 rich foods have been shown to have greater health benefits than K1.
There is also a synthetic version which is vitamin K3 which I do not recommend. Instead, follow the vitamin K food list below.
Consuming vitamin K rich foods can support:
Improve bone density
Restore oral health
The RDA of vitamin K is 120 mcg/day for men and 90mcg/day for women. The Daily Value is 80 mcg.
Top 10 Vitamin K Rich Foods List
1) Green Leafy Vegetables (Kale)
½ c: 444 mcg (over 100% DV)
2) Natto (fermented soy)
2 oz: 500 mcg (over 100% DV)
3) Spring onions (Scallions)
½ c: 103 mcg (over 100% DV)
4) Brussels Sprouts
½ c: 78 mcg (98% DV)
½ cup: 82 mcg (over 100% DV)
½ c: 46 mcg (58% DV)
7) Dairy (fermented)
½ c: 10 mcg (10% DV)
½ c: 52 mcg (65% DV)
1 medium: 49 mcg (61% DV)
10) Dried basil
1 Tbsp: 36 mcg (45% DV)
Try consuming 2-3 of these vitamin k rich foods daily.
Top Health Benefits of Vitamin K
Vitamin K has been shown to help prevent calcification of arteries, one of the leading causes of heart attacks. It works by carrying calcium out of the arteries and not allowing it to form hard plaques.
Vitamin K increases the amount of a specific protein required to maintain bone calcium, reducing the risk of osteoporosis. Some studies on vitamin K have even found that high intakes of vitamin K stop bone loss in people with osteoporosis.
Vitamin K has been shown to be effective in reducing the risk of prostate, colon, stomach, nasal, and oral cancers. One study even found that high doses of vitamin K helped patients with liver cancer stabilize and even improve their liver function.
What kinds of vitamin K dietary supplements are available?
Vitamin K is found in multivitamin/multimineral supplements. Vitamin K is also available in supplements of vitamin K alone or of vitamin K with a few other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and/or vitamin D. Common forms of vitamin K in dietary supplements are phylloquinone and phytonadione (also called vitamin K1), menaquinone-4, and menaquinone-7 (also called vitamin K2).
Am I getting enough vitamin K?
Vitamin K deficiency is very rare. Most people in the United States get enough vitamin K from the foods they eat. Also, bacteria in the colon make some vitamin K that the body can absorb. However, certain groups of people may have trouble getting enough vitamin K:
Newborns who don’t receive an injection of vitamin K at birth
People with conditions (such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and short bowel syndrome) that decrease the amount of vitamin K their body absorbs
People who have had bariatric (weight loss) surgery
What happens if I don't get enough vitamin K?
Severe vitamin K deficiency can cause bruising and bleeding problems because the blood will take longer to clot. Vitamin K deficiency might reduce bone strength and increase the risk of getting osteoporosis because the body needs vitamin K for healthy bones.