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The Forgotten Vitamin: 11 Best Vitamin K Foods and Why It’s So Important

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Vitamin K is very important because our body uses it to promote proper blood clotting and bone density, as it helps with calcium absorption.

It triggers the entire process of blood clotting as soon as bleeding occurs.

Without this vitamin, it would be impossible to stop bleeding.

The results of recent studies show that vitamin K can play an important role in treatment of osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease.

Higher levels of this vitamin in the body can reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.

Vitamin K is also important for maintaining normal levels of vitamin D, which is vital for bone growth, calcium absorption and overall health of the entire organism.

In fact, vitamin K is sometimes called “forgotten vitamin” because it isn’t as “popular” as other vitamins.

Research has shown that most people don’t have the required amounts of this vitamin in the body.

The majority of K vitamins is used for proper blood clotting.

Since it’s essential for blood clotting, it’s very important to include vitamin K rich foods in your daily diet.

The lack of vitamin K can lead to cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, enlarged veins, memory problems, tooth decay, slower wound healing and severe menstrual bleeding.

Chemical structure

There are 5 types of vitamin K, but only 3 that you have to be aware of.

In nature, it’s found in two forms: K1 and K2, while K3, K4 and K5 are synthetically obtained.

Vitamin K1 and its very similar vitamin K2 are used as coagulants. In fact, the term “vitamin K” comes from the German and Scandinavian words coagulant.

  • K1 – is the natural form found in plant foods such as green leafy vegetables. It’s important for protecting against osteoporosis.
  • K2 – is produced by bacteria in the digestive system. Vitamin K2, except in the liver, goes directly into the blood vessels walls, bones, and other tissues. It can be found in fermented products and it’s the most powerful form of vitamin K. The best source of vitamin K2 is natto, a form of fermented soybean.
  • K3 – is a synthetic form of vitamin K which experts don’t recommend. It’s VERY important to know that giving a synthetic vitamin K3 to a baby can be toxic.

Other K vitamins are K3, K4 and K5, and can be found in foods of animal origin.

Instead of immediately reaching for supplements, first consider including one (or all) of these vitamin k rich foods in your diet.

Top 11 Foods Rich in Vitamin K

Parsley

Parsley ranks 1st on our list as it contains a whopping 1.64 mg per 100 grams of this essential micronutrient.

Adding parsley will greatly enrich meals with vitamin K.

Kale

Kale ranks high on our list as it’s one of the best source of vitamin K.

100 grams of this vegetable contains as much as 817 mcg of this vitamin.

It also contains large amounts of vitamins A and C, iron, calcium, potassium, magnesium and phosphorus.

It’s used as a food supplement or as an addition to smoothies.

Dandelion

Dandelion is a true spring plant that has many healing properties.

It’s rich in vitamin K, as it contains up to 778 mcg per 100 g. In addition, it contains vitamins A, B, C, D and G and minerals of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and sodium.

It can be used in soups, green salads, green smoothies, pasta etc.

Spinach

If Popeye eats it, then it must be healthy 🙂

Spinach is another green leafy vegetable that’s rich in vitamin K.

100 grams contains 483 mcg of this vitamin, and also a large amount of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, iron and potassium.

Since the spinach is very nutritious and low in calories, you can included it as part of almost any diet plan.

Basil

It contains 414.8 mcg per 100 grams.

To put it in perspective, since this is also a culinary herb, 5 leaves of basil contain around 10.4 micrograms of vitamin K.

Because of its sweet taste, basil goes well with fruits.

Natto – The fermented soybean superfood

Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans.

This high protein and calcium rich food contains 775 mcg per 100 gram of serving.

If you have vitamin k deficiency and want to try something new, then natto is a great choice.

Turnip greens

This vegetable, popular in the South, contains 368 mcg per 100 grams.

Because it’s rich in carotenoid, it’s also one of the best sources of vitamin A.

Coriander

Contains 310 mcg per 100 grams.

Coriander leaves are often used in cooking as a spice.

Brussels sprouts

100 grams contains 177 mcg of vitamin K.

They are also rich in vitamin A and C, as well as iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus.

Lettuce

100 grams of this bushy green vegetable contains 102.3 mcg of vitamin k.

It’s most often used for salads.

Broccoli

This healthy vegetable from the cabbage family abounds in vitamins and minerals.

100 grams of broccoli contains 101.6 mcg of vitamin K.

It’s also richer in vitamin C than orange.

Other foods that contain vitamin K:

  • Soybeans (47 mcg)
  • Cabbage (42 mcg)
  • Garden asparagus (41.6 mcg)
  • Celery (29.3 mcg)
  • Edamame (26.8 mcg)
  • Peas (24.8 mcg)
  • Avocado (21 mcg)
  • Cucumber (16.4 mcg)
  • Cauliflower (15.5 mcg)
  • Carrot (13.2 mcg)
  • Tomato (7.9 mcg)
  • Potato (1.9 mcg)

* mcg values are based on 100 grams of food

Recommended daily intake of vitamin K

Required daily amounts of vitamin K are very small.

The accurate amount of daily intake hasn’t been determined.

Experts believe that vitamin K intake for babies is 2 mcg per day, and for adults: women 90 mcg, men 120 mcg per day.

According to National Institute of Health, the recommended daily intake of K vitamin is:

  • Adult men aged 20 and older: 122 mcg
  • Adult women aged 20 and older: 138 mcg

In pregnant women, if vitamin K deficiencies are present in placenta (especially if the pregnant woman receives anticoagulants), skeletal deformities may occur in the newborn.

The American Cancer Society suggests that in order to reduce the risk of bleeding in newborn, pregnant women on anti-seizure medications should get vitamin K supplements 2-4 weeks prior to giving birth. It’s very important to consult your doctor before using vitamin K supplements.

For better absorption, vitamin K supplements should be taken with meals.

As you can see, with a proper diet, it’s fairly easy to achieve recommended daily intakes.

Hypervitaminosis – excess of vitamin K

Hypervitaminosis is a condition of unnaturally high levels of vitamins in the body.

Generally, vitamin K is well tolerated.

It’s not toxic in high doses, even as high as 500 times the base dose.

On the other hand, the lack of vitamin K is very rare. This is because our body produces the majority of the required nutrients.

Lack of this vitamin occurs in people suffering from liver or intestinal disease, because it interferes with the absorption of fat.

One of the most common causes of vitamin K deficiency in the body is the liver’s inability to secrete bile into the gastrointestinal tract. In the absence of bile, digestion and fat absorption suffers, and therefore the absorption of vitamin K.

Also, long-term use of antibiotics can destroy the intestinal flora and thus reduce the level of vitamin K in the body.

There are no known toxic effects of excessive amounts of vitamin K. However, large amounts can be dangerous if taken with anticoagulants.

Foods that don’t have vitamin K

In case you are taking medications for blood thinning and you need to closely monitor vitamin K levels, then it’s good to know which foods contain little to none amounts of vitamin K.

For people who suffered from heart attack it’s highly recommended to start with a special diet plan to alleviate problems related to cardiovascular system and improve blood flow. Anyone who has problems with blood flow should consult a doctor about the intake of vitamin K.

Foods that don’t contain vitamin K

It is very hard to find food that doesn’t contain this vitamin K at least in small quantities.

However here are some suggestions: fruits, mushrooms, yeasts, diary products, meat, poultry, seafood, legumes, nuts and seeds.

If you are on warfarin diet then avoid food that is rich in this vitamin.

Vitamin K heart benefits

New study conducted by American scientists reveals that the lack of vitamin K2 can increase the risk of cardiovascular and bone diseases.

Namely, vitamin K2 is needed for proper calcium absorption.

Without an adequate amount of vitamin K2, the body begins to store calcium in wrong places – in the arteries, instead of the bones.

One research, that was published in the Journal of Nutrition, included 4800 people over the age of 55.

Scientists studied their health and lifestyle over a period of 10 years and came up with shocking results.

Participants who had an adequate amount of vitamin K2, about 45 micrograms a day, had 50% lower risk of developing heart disease.

Experts recommend that, if you are taking calcium supplements, you should start taking vitamin K2 supplements as well.

They also suggest to consult a doctor before taking vitamin K2 supplements in case you are taking anti-blood coagulation medications.

Vitamin K2 helps in osteoporosis prevention

Vitamin K is one of the most important nutritional elements when it comes to maintaining bone health.

It acts as a glue that connects calcium and other important minerals within the bone tissue.

Several studies have confirmed its effectiveness.

Japanese scientists have found that vitamin K2 can completely eliminate the loss, and in some cases, even increase the percentage of bone tissue in people suffering from osteoporosis.

They also found that vitamin K2 supplements can reduce the risk of spleen fracture by 60% and the risk of developing a hip fracture by 80%.

Scientists from the Netherlands have found that vitamin K2 is 3 times more effective than vitamin K1, at least when it comes to raising the level of osteocalcin, which controls the construction and development of the bones.

The health of bones doesn’t depend only on calcium.

Bones are made up of minerals.

If you focus only on increasing calcium, it’s more likely that the bones will weaken and the risk of osteoporosis will increase.

The body will better utilize calcium if it comes from plant foods.

Good sources of calcium are skim milk, green leafy vegetables, some types of citrus vegetables and wheat.

Vitamin K assists in cancer prevention

Numerous studies have shown that vitamins K1 and K2 are effective in the fight against cancer.

One study has shown that vitamin K2 can slow down the growth of lung cancer cells, while previous studies shown that it can be effective in treating leukemia.

A study by German scientists has shown that vitamin K2 can help prevent prostate cancer.

Vitamin K has also been shown to be effective in treating Hodgkin’s lymphoma, colon cancer, gastric cancer, spinal cord, and oral cavity.

Other health benefits

In addition to being used as a coagulant, vitamin K1 also has some other specific health benefits.

Vitamin K1 can be applied to the skin to alleviate bruises, but it can also be used to treat some skin diseases.

Some doctors claim that vitamin K can be useful for reducing dark circles under the eyes, a very common problem.

Vitamin K1 is used in pediatric patients and neonatal care.

Doctors recommend that all newborns receive an injection of vitamin K in order to improve blood clotting because newborns usually lack an adequate amount of vitamin K and excessive bleeding can occur. This is particularly true for prematurely born babies.

Vitamin K2 enhances body sensitivity to insulin. People who regularly consume vitamin K2 rich food have 20% lower risk of type 2 diabetes.

Deficiency of vitamin K2 can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

It has antioxidant properties and it’s soluble in fat.

This is very important because it’s essential for degradation of this vitamin. For this reason, it’s necessary to intake an adequate amount of fat so that the body can absorb vitamin K.

CAUTION: Intravenous injection can cause breathing problems, chest pain and cardiovascular collapse.

 

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About Mia Lopez

Hey there, Mia here! I’m fitness enthusiast committed to sharing raw and uncensored health hacks backed by science and real results. My goal is to help you become the healthiest version of yourself and perfectly fit in your favorite clothes.

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