It’s not as well-known as the other vitamins, but it is just as essential. We’re talking about vitamin K, a nutrient that is vital for blood clotting, and maintaining healthy bones.
This vitamin has also been associated with improved insulin sensitivity, improved heart health and reduced risk of cancer.
Although green leafy vegetables, such as Kale, Spinach, etc., are the best sources of vitamin K, it can be found in meat, dairy, fruits, and fermented foods as well. Vitamin K is also produced inside the body by the bacteria in the gut.
Getting enough vitamin K is essential as its deficiency can lead to many health problems like weak bones, bleeding, and heart disease. Read on to learn about the best sources of vitamin K.
What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K refers to a group of fat-soluble compounds that play a crucial role in blood clotting, regulating blood calcium levels and bone metabolism. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone) are the two main types of vitamin K.
Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is obtained from leafy greens and is the more common type. Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is obtained from fermented foods, meats, eggs and the microbiome of the intestine.
Deficiency of vitamin K is rare as there are plenty of foods that provide a healthy dose of this vitamin. However, if your diet comprises of processed foods and refined sugars, you may not be getting enough vitamin K.
So, add some vitamin K rich foods to your diet and enjoy the numerous health benefits of vitamin K.
How much vitamin K should you take?
Most people can get adequate amounts of vitamin K from their diet.
The recommended adequate intake of vitamin K can vary according to age (1).
- Birth to 6 months: 2 mcg (micrograms)
- 7 to 12 months: 2.5 mcg
- 1 to 3 years: 30 mcg
- 4 to 8 years: 55 mcg
- 9 to 13 years: 60 mcg
- 14 to 18 years: 75 mcg
- 14 to 18 years (pregnant and breastfeeding): 75 mcg
- 19 + years (men): 120 mcg
- 19 + years (women): 90 mcg
- 19 + years (pregnant and breastfeeding): 90 mcg
Vitamin K deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency is quite rare in adults, but it can occur in babies. Babies have low levels of vitamin K as they have fewer bacteria in their gut where vitamin K is made.
Without vitamin K injection, babies are at risk of severe bleeding and developing a rare bleeding disorder. People who have diseases that affect absorption such as Crohn’s disease or active celiac disease can also develop vitamin K deficiency.
In some cases, people who are severely malnourished or drink alcohol heavily can also develop vitamin K deficiency.
Foods rich in vitamin K1
Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is the more common form of vitamin K. It is usually obtained from plant-based sources, especially leafy greens.
1. Kale (cooked)
Vitamin K content – Half a cup – 531 mcg (443% DV)
Kale is a highly nutrient-dense food. Other than being extremely rich in vitamin K, it is also packed with antioxidants and is an excellent source of vitamin C.
Kale health benefits include promoting eye health, detoxifying the body, promoting blood clotting and even fighting cancer.
2. Mustard greens (cooked)
Vitamin K content – Half a cup – 415 mcg (349 % DV)
Mustard greens are rich in vitamin K which is the leading vitamin involved in bone mineralization and blood clotting. These peppery, rich flavored greens also contain antioxidants in the form of vitamin A and C.
3. Swiss chard (raw)
Vitamin K content – 1 leaf – 398 mcg (332 % DV)
This powerhouse of nutrition is an excellent source of vitamin K, A and C and other nutrients like iron, magnesium, potassium and dietary fiber.
Its thick stalks have a mildly bitter taste. The health benefits of Swiss chard include regulating blood pressure, improving digestion, boosting the immune system, lowering inflammation and also preventing various types of cancer.
4. Collard greens (cooked)
Vitamin K content –Half a cup – 386 mcg (332 % DV)
Collard greens are rich in vitamin A, C, K, B6, calcium, iron, and magnesium. They improve bone health, prevent cancer, reduce inflammation and glucose in people with diabetes, and improve digestion.
5. Beet greens (cooked)
Vitamin K content – Half a cup – 349 mcg (290 % DV)
Beet greens are packed with vitamins K, C, A, some B vitamins and folate. These greens have blood clotting properties, they improve bone strength, boost immunity and reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
6. Spinach (raw)
Vitamin K content – 1 cup – 145 mcg (121 % DV)
This healthy green is full of vitamins, mineral, and antioxidants. It is a good source of vitamin K, A, B2 and C. it also contains manganese, magnesium, folate, iron, calcium, and potassium.
Spinach has strong anti-aging properties, improves eye health, and also helps combat certain cancers like breast cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer.
7. Broccoli (cooked)
Vitamin K content – Half a cup – 110 mcg ( 92 % DV)
Broccoli is packed with many nutrients like iron, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin K. Though broccoli can be eaten both cooked and raw, recent studies show that gently steaming this superfood provides the most health benefits.
8. Brussels Sprouts (cooked)
Vitamin K content – Half a cup – 109 mcg (91 % DV)
This versatile food is used in many cultural cuisines around the world. Just one cup of this cruciferous vegetable can help you meet your daily requirements for vitamin K, and vitamin C. It is also rich in folate, potassium, B vitamins, and manganese.
9. Spring onions
Vitamin K content – Half a cup – 103 mcg (90 % DV)
Spring onions are an excellent source of vitamins C, B1, B2, A, and K. They also contain copper, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, chromium, manganese, and fiber.
Not only do spring onions taste great, but they are also very healthy for the body. They help reduce cholesterol levels, improve heart health, improve immunity and are great for digestive health.
10. Cabbage (cooked)
Vitamin K content – Half a cup – 82 mcg (68 % DV)
Cabbage is a cruciferous vegetable that protects against radiation, reduce the risk of heart disease and prevent cancer. It is a good source of vitamin K, magnesium and folate.
Cabbage also contains antioxidants like choline, beta-carotene, lutein, zeaxanthin, and flavonoids like kaempferol, quercetin, and apigenin.
Foods rich in vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 comes primarily from fermented foods and animal products.
Vitamin K content – one ounce – 313 mcg (261 % DV)
This Japanese superfood supports stronger bones, improves heart health, supports healthy digestion, promotes weight loss, and purifies the blood. Made by fermenting soybeans, natto has a savory flavor with hints of salt and barbecue.
2. Beef Liver
Vitamin K content – one slice – 72 mcg (60 % DV)
Beef liver is nutrient-dense food as it provides folate, iron, vitamin B12, B2, A, K, copper, and choline. It contains high-quality protein and all essential amino acids.
3. Pork Chops
Vitamin K content – 3 ounces – 59 mcg (49 % DV)
Pork chops contain high-quality protein and various healthy vitamins and minerals. Eating pork ensures sufficient dietary intake of high-quality protein that may help preserve muscle mass.
You must avoid consumption of overcooked or undercooked pork as overcooked meat may contain carcinogenic substances and undercooked pork may harbor parasites.
Vitamin K content – 3 ounces – 51 mcg (43 % DV)
Chicken is an excellent source of lean, low-fat protein. It is also a rich source of various vitamins and minerals like vitamin B, vitamin D, potassium, sodium, and phosphorus.
It helps in weight loss, lowers blood pressure, and also provides relief from common cold.
5. Goose liver paste
Vitamin K content – 1 tablespoon – 48 mcg (40 % DV)
Also known as foie fras, goose liver paste means ‘fatty liver’ in French. It is considered unethical by many people as it is made by force-feeding animals to enlarge their liver. It also contains vitamin B12, B5, folate, vitamin A, copper, and iron.
Vitamin K content – 3 ounces – 30 mcg (25 % DV)
Bacon is reasonably nutritious as it contains proteins, B vitamins, vitamin K, selenium, phosphorus, iron, magnesium, zinc, and potassium. However, it is high in sodium and additives like nitrates and nitrites.
7. Hard cheeses
Vitamin K content – 1 ounce – 25 mcg (20 % DV)
Hard cheeses like Grana Padano, Parmesan, or Pecorino are packed into large forms and aged for months and years. Since cheese is a good source of calcium, protein, zinc, magnesium, vitamin A, D, and K, it is excellent for improving bone health and preventing osteoporosis. It also helps lower blood pressure and improves gut health.
8. Jarlsburg cheese
Vitamin K content – 1 slice – 22 mcg (19 % DV)
Jarlsberg cheese is rich in nutrition as it is packed with calcium, protein, and magnesium and is minimally processed. It has lower fat content than cheddar cheese. It has high vitamin K2 content thanks to its unique fermentation process.
9. Soft Cheeses
Vitamin K content – 1 ounce – 17 mcg (14 % DV)
A soft cheese has lots of moisture in it, keeping its texture smooth and spreadable. Not only are these cheeses like feta, Brie, ricotta, Camembert delicious, but they also contain nutrients like B vitamins, phosphorus, and calcium. They are low in calories and keep the body hydrated.
10. Blue cheese
Vitamin K content – 1 ounce – 10 mcg (9 % DV)
Blue cheese is made from cow, goat or sheep milk and ripened with cultured of the mold Penicillium. It contains many essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, vitamin K, vitamin D, retinol, sodium, and zinc. Blue cheese is also an excellent source of protein and calcium.
Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble compounds that are needed for blood clotting and maintaining healthy bones.
While vitamin K1 is generally found in plant-based sources like leafy greens, vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods and animal products. Add the above-mentioned vitamin K rich foods to your daily diet to improve your health.