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Vitamin K

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In this Lesson you will Learn

  1. Why is vitamin K important?
  2. What is the difference between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2?
  3. How much vitamin K do I need?
  4. What are dietary sources of vitamin K?
 

Vitamin K produces many of the proteins necessary for blood clotting.1 Some research suggests it could also be important for strong bones, but so far the results are inconclusive.2

sageswiss charddandelion greensradicchiobrussels sprouts

There are many types of vitamin K, but the two major types in the human diet are phylloquinones (vitamin K1), which are made by plants, and menaquinones (vitamin K2), which are made by bacteria in the intestines. It is estimated that these bacteria produce about half of the vitamin K the body needs daily.3 For this reason, and because new research suggests vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 may have different functions in the body4, it is important to eat a wide variety of foods with vitamin K.

Men are recommended 120 mcg vitamin K daily. Women should aim for 90 mcg.5

Vitamin K is found in leafy greens, such as kale, spinach, and romaine lettuce. It is also found in herbs, such as parsley, basil, thyme, and sage, as well as in vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, and cucumber. Smaller quantities of vitamin K are also found in meat, fish, and eggs.6

Vitamin K deficiency is most likely in people suffering from conditions that negatively impact digestion, or after long-term antibiotic use, which can damage the good bacteria in the intestines. If you have a vitamin K deficiency, you may bruise easily and notice gum bleeding, nosebleeds, etc.2

Vitamin K-rich Foods

Ingredient µg of Vitamin K per 100g µg of Vitamin K per 100 calories
fresh sage 1714.5 544.3
dried basil 1714.5 735.8
dried thyme 1714.5 621.2
fresh parsley 1640.0 4555.6
dried parsley 1359.5 465.6
ground coriander 1359.5 487.3
swiss chard 830.0 4368.4
poultry seasoning 805.4 262.3
dandelion greens 778.4 1729.8
kale 704.8 1438.4
dried marjoram 621.7 229.4
dried oregano 621.7 234.6
spinach 482.9 2099.6
collard greens 437.1 1365.9
fresh basil 414.8 1803.5
beet greens 400.0 1818.2
frozen spinach 372.0 1282.8
fresh cilantro 310.0 1347.8
mizuna 257.5 953.7
radicchio 255.2 1109.6
turnip greens 251.0 784.4
watercress 250.0 2272.7
red belgian edive 231.0 1358.8
broccoli rabe 224.0 1018.2
fresh chives 212.7 709.0
green onions 207.0 646.9
brussels sprouts 177.0 411.6
pepper 163.7 65.2
mayonnaise 163.0 24.0
light salad dressing 155.1 46.4
cloves 141.8 51.8
red leaf lettuce 140.3 876.9
lettuce leaves 126.3 842.0
pickled mustard greens 125.9 419.7
ranch dressing 125.2 25.9
French dressing 121.4 26.6
grape leaves 108.6 116.8
arugula 108.6 434.4
guajillo chiles 108.2 33.4
red pepper flakes 105.7 37.5
caesar salad dressing 104.8 19.3
romaine lettuce 102.5 602.9
butter lettuce 102.3 786.9
broccoli florets 101.6 298.8
curry powder 99.8 30.7
vinaigrette 98.8 22.0
sweet pickle relish 83.8 64.5
cayenne pepper 80.3 25.3
paprika 80.3 28.5
cabbage 76.0 304.0
nondairy butter 75.0 10.5
canola oil 71.3 8.1
honey mustard 70.0 15.1
soy flour 70.0 16.1
thousand island dressing 69.1 18.7
savoy cabbage 68.8 254.8
kombu 66.0 153.5
coleslaw dressing 63.7 16.3
olive oil 60.2 6.8
prunes 59.5 24.8
kraft asian toasted sesame dressing 56.0 12.6
kraft zesty italian dressing 56.0 23.3
vegan buttery spread 55.5 9.5
pine nuts 53.9 8.0
light mayonnaise 53.7 22.6
shortening 53.2 6.0
tartar sauce 50.4 23.9
ritz crackers 50.0 10.2
cornichons 47.1 51.8
leeks 47.0 77.0
dried soybeans 47.0 10.5
light buttery spread 46.8 13.9
seasoned bread crumbs 46.0 12.0
bok choy 45.5 350.0
tuna 44.0 22.2
sun-dried tomatoes 43.0 16.7
corn oil 42.2 4.8
asparagus 41.6 208.0
celery root 41.0 97.6
kiwi 40.3 66.1
reduced fat coleslaw dressing 39.5 12.0
dill pickles 39.0 325.0
red cabbage 38.2 123.2
roasted soybeans 37.0 8.2
roasted cashews 34.7 6.0
cashews 34.1 6.2
bean sprouts 33.0 110.0
okra 31.3 94.8
ground cinnamon 31.2 12.6
alfalfa sprouts 30.5 132.6
celery 29.3 183.1
rhubarb 29.3 139.5
white miso 29.3 14.7
pumpkin pie spice 28.4 8.3
edamame 26.7 21.9
spirulina 25.5 8.8
snow peas 25.0 59.5
peas 24.8 30.6
fat-free mayonnaise 24.7 29.4
vegetable oil 24.7 2.9
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Sources

  1. Harvard School of Public Health Nutrition Source - Vitamin K
  2. The Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center - Vitamin K
  3. American Cancer Society - Vitamin K
  4. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry - Vitamin K Contents of Meat, Dairy, and Fast Food in the U.S. Diet
  5. University of Maryland Medical Center - Vitamin K
  6. MedlinePlus - Vitamin K
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Takeaways

  1. Vitamin K is important for blood clotting and (possibly) for strong bones.
  2. The two types of vitamin K relevant in human nutrition are vitamin K1 (phylloquinones) and vitamin K2 (menaquinones). Vitamin K1 is made by plants and vitamin K2 is made by bacteria in the intestines.
  3. The daily vitamin K recommendation for men is 120 mcg. For women, 90 mcg is recommended.
  4. The best dietary source of vitamin K is leafy greens. It is also found in various herbs, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, celery, and cucumber.
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