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Why Is It Important To Eat Food Rich in Vitamin K?

Medically reviewed by Mae Charisse Antalan, MD · General Practitioner

Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 30, 2022

Why Is It Important To Eat Food Rich in Vitamin K?

Some people think that vitamin K and potassium are the same thing. This is because potassium has the letter K as its symbol in the periodic table. But did you know that they are two different things? Vitamin K, as the name suggests, is a vitamin. Whereas, potassium is a mineral. Know how vitamin K helps the body and what food is rich in vitamin K. 

Get to Know Your Vitamin K

Vitamin K is the generic name for a group of compounds with the chemical structure 2-methyl-1,4-naphthoquinone. Discovered in the 1920s, the letter “K” originates from the Danish and German words koagulation

It is a fat-soluble vitamin that is available in two forms. 

  • Phylloquinone (vitamin K1). This is the most common type, wherein green leafy vegetables are some of those foods rich in vitamin K. 
  • Menaquinones (vitamin K2). This type of vitamin is present in animal foods and fermented foods. Bacteria in the human body, particularly the lower intestinal tract, can also produce vitamin K2.

How Does Vitamin K Work?

Vitamin K aids in the production of several proteins that are required for blood clotting and bone formation, among other things. Prothrombin (clotting factor II) is a vitamin K-dependent protein that plays a direct role in blood clotting. Meanwhile, osteocalcin is another protein that needs vitamin K to grow new and healthy bone tissue.

It is present in many parts of the body, such as the liver, brain, heart, pancreas, and bone. It degrades quickly and is expelled from the body through urine or stool. As a result, even at high doses, it rarely exceeds toxic levels in the body, as can happen with some other fat-soluble vitamins.

Some people refer to it as the “clotting vitamin” that is naturally found in certain foods rich in vitamin K and other dietary supplements. 

People who take the blood thinner warfarin are advised to maintain a consistent dietary intake of vitamin K. Otherwise, their medication may become less effective.

Food Rich in Vitamin K

Food is a top source of both vitamins K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinones). Green leafy vegetables are the most common food source including the following:

  • Collard greens
  • Turnip greens
  • Beet greens
  • Mustard greens
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Swiss chard
  • Cabbage
  • Parsley
  • Romaine
  • Lettuces

Other foods rich in vitamin K are as follows:

  • Broccoli
  • Onions 
  • Soybean 
  • Natto (fermented soybeans)
  • Soybean oil
  • Canola oil
  • Rapeseed oil
  • Olive oil
  • Asparagus
  • Cauliflower
  • Kiwis
  • Fish
  • Liver
  • Meat
  • Eggs
  • Vitamin K Recommended Intakes

    The Food and Nutrition Board (FNB) established the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI), which advises the Adequate Intakes (AI) for vitamin K and other important nutrients for daily consumption. 

    • Birth to 6 months — 2 mcg
    • 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
    • 19+ years — 120 mcg (male) and 90 mcg (female)

    Antibiotics may endanger vitamin-K-producing bacteria in the gut, potentially lowering vitamin K levels. Individuals who have a poor appetite while taking long-term antibiotics may be more susceptible to deficiency and may need some assistance from vitamin K supplements.

    Key Takeaways

    Just like any other kind of vitamin, vitamin K offers a range of benefits for people such as preventing health conditions like cardiovascular diseases, osteoporosis, and osteoarthritis, to name a few. It could also enhance cognition and mobility that could help in your daily activities. 

    Vitamin K works with vitamin D to help keep calcium levels in our bones stable. Hence, it is important to eat food rich in vitamin K to have a healthy balance of all micronutrients for optimal bone growth and overall health.

    Learn other Nutrition Facts here.


    Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

    Medically reviewed by

    Mae Charisse Antalan, MD

    General Practitioner

    Written by Fiel Tugade · Updated Aug 30, 2022

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