Top 25 Vitamin K Foods, Plus the Many Health Benefits
May 2, 2022
Original article and page source found here.
Ready for yet another reason to eat your veggies? Foods like leafy greens and veggies, including broccoli and cabbage, are loaded with vitamin K, an important nutrient that’s been associated with improved insulin levels, a reduced risk of cancer and protection against heart disease. Not only that, but vitamin K foods can also promote proper blood clot formation and support one health.
Oh yes, they also help keep vitamin K deficiency at bay.
This essential micronutrient isn’t just found in greens, though. It can also be found in certain types of fruit, meat and dairy, and it is even produced inside your own body by your good gut bacteria.
Getting a good amount of vitamin K from dietary sources is integral to health, and a deficiency can result in a long list of health problems.
Keep reading to find out what you need to know about vitamin K foods and how you can ensure that you get enough in your diet.
What Is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is an important nutrient that plays a role in everything from bone metabolism to blood sugar control. It’s broken down into two main types: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone).
Vitamin K1 is the most common source that is present primarily in plant foods like leafy greens. Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is found in animal products and fermented foods.
Foods high in this vitamin include meat, dairy and natto. It is also produced by the beneficial bacteria in your gut microbiome.
On a healthy, well-balanced diet, a deficiency of vitamin K is rare. This is because it’s plentiful in healthy whole foods.
Ultra-processed foods and refined sugars, on the other hand, are foods with a minimal amounts of vitamin K. If these nutrient-poor foods make up a large part of your diet, it could mean you may not get enough dietary sources of this key vitamin.
Vitamin K deficiency is very serious and can result in easy bruising, bleeding, tooth decay and issues with bone health. For this reason, it’s crucial to ensure you’re including a serving or two of vitamin K-rich foods with each meal.
Many people don’t realize that there is more than one type of vitamin K. There are actually two main forms of vitamin K that we acquire from our diets: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2.
Vitamin K1 is also called phytonadione, while vitamin K2 is referred to as menaquinone. Vitamin K3 is also available, which is a synthetic form known as menadione.
Here’s a breakdown of the different types of vitamin K and how to get them from vitamin K foods or dietary supplements:
Vitamin K1 is mostly found in vegetables, while vitamin K2 is found in fermented dairy products and is also produced by the bacteria in our guts.
While vitamin K1 is found in plant foods that are very healthy for many reasons — such as leafy greens like spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage — it’s vitamin K2 that seems to be most beneficial for protecting the heart.
In fact, vitamin K2 seems to be more effective than vitamin K1 at preventing and reversing arterial calcifications that lead to heart-related problems.
The best way to get the daily requirement of both types is by eating a variety of whole vitamin K foods, including green plant foods and raw, fermented dairy products (like yogurt or raw cheese), fish and eggs that provide vitamin K2.
Additionally, there is a synthetic version known as vitamin K3. However, it’s best to eat plenty of whole foods that are high in vitamin K and other important nutrients instead of relying on dietary supplements.
Top Vitamin K Foods
Looking for a list of food options that contain vitamin K? This essential vitamin is found primarily in green vegetables, fruits, probiotic foods and animal products, which makes it easy to meet your needs through a healthy and well-balanced diet.
Here are a few of the top vitamin K food sources:
Kale — ½ cup cooked: 531 micrograms (over 100 percent DV)
Spinach — ½ cup cooked: 445 micrograms (over 100 percent DV)
Turnip greens — ½ cup cooked: 265 micrograms (over 100 percent DV)
Dandelion greens — ½ cup raw: 214 micrograms (over 100 percent DV)
Mustard greens — ½ cup cooked: 210 micrograms (over 100 percent DV)
Swiss chard — ½ cup raw: 150 micrograms (over 100 percent DV)
Brussels sprouts — ½ cup cooked: 109 micrograms (91 percent DV)
Spring onions (scallions) — ½ cup raw: 103 micrograms (86 percent DV)
Cabbage — ½ cup cooked: 81.5 micrograms (68 percent DV)
Beef liver — 1 slice — 72 micrograms (60 percent DV)
Kiwi — 1 cup — 71 micrograms (59 percent DV)
Chicken breast — 3 ounces cooked — 51 micrograms (43 percent DV)
Broccoli — ½ cup raw: 46 micrograms (38 percent DV)
Avocado — 1 cup — 31.5 micrograms (26 percent DV)
Blackberries — 1 cup — 29 micrograms (24 percent DV)
Blueberries — 1 cup — 29 micrograms (24 percent DV)
Natto — 3.5 ounces — 23 micrograms (19 percent DV)
Prunes — 1 ounce — 17 micrograms (14 percent DV)
Soft cheese — 1 ounce — 17 micrograms (14 percent DV)
Kidney beans — 1 cup — 15 micrograms (13 percent DV)
Pine nuts — 1 ounce – 15 micrograms (13 percent DV)
Pomegranate — 1/2 cup — 14 micrograms (12 percent DV)
Cashews — 1 ounce — 9.5 micrograms (8 percent DV)
Ground beef — 3 ounces cooked — 8 micrograms (7 percent DV)
Grass-fed butter —1 tablespoon — 3 micrograms (2 percent DV)
1. Fight Cancer
Some evidence has found that vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 could help kill off cancer cells and may even reduce the risk of cancer.
One study from the Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine at the University of Toronto evaluated 440 postmenopausal women with weakened bones who were supplemented with vitamin K1 for two years. Interestingly enough, taking vitamin K1 was associated with a 75 percent reduction in cancer incidence.
Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition comprising 24,340 participants showed that a higher intake of vitamin K2 was associated with a reduced risk of cancer.
Furthermore, many foods high in vitamin K also make the list of top antioxidant foods as well. Vitamin K foods like leafy greens are jam-packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, which help prevent damage from free radicals and decrease the risk of cancer — making these ingredients some of the best cancer-fighting foods.
2. Build Strong Bones
Getting enough vitamin K1 foods in your diet is key to maintaining bone health. The nutrient is involved in bone metabolism and increases the amount of a specific protein that is required to maintain the calcium in your bones.
Several studies have found that increasing your intake of this important fat-soluble vitamin can help reduce the risk of bone fractures. A 2020 study found that there’s a synergistic effect of vitamin K combined with vitamin D, with beneficial effects for joint and bone health.
A study published in the journal PLoS Medicine concluded that taking 5 milligrams of a vitamin K1 dietary supplement for two to four years was able to protect postmenopausal women against fractures.
Another study out of the Jean Mayer U.S. Department of Agriculture Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston demonstrated that a low intake of vitamin K foods was associated with reduced bone mineral density in women.
For this reason, many women at risk for osteoporosis often use supplementation to ensure that they are meeting their needs. Other natural treatments for osteoporosis include weight training a few times per week, getting daily sun exposure and eating plenty of foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids.
3. Ensure Healthy Blood Clotting
Perhaps the most well-known vitamin K function is its role in promoting the formation of blood clots.
Blood clotting is an important process that helps stop excess bleeding as a result of injury. In fact, one of the first warning signs of a vitamin K deficiency is bleeding from the gums or nose along with easy bruising. Because of this, those on blood thinners like warfarin (Coumadin) are recommended to moderate their intake of this key vitamin.
Warfarin (Coumadin) works against vitamin K to help slow coagulation in the blood. Dramatic increases or decreases in your daily intake can interfere with and lower the effects of these medications.
4. Promote Heart Health
Besides ensuring healthy blood clotting, eating plenty of foods high in vitamin K may improve your heart function in other ways as well.
In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition with 388 participants, vitamin K1 was found to slow the progression of coronary artery calcification in older adults.
Other studies have also confirmed the beneficial effects of vitamin K1 on vascular calcification, a condition in which calcium deposits build up in the arteries and cause blood vessels to lose elasticity.