Vitamin K is important for several bodily functions and overall health, including blood clotting and bone health. In this post, we will discuss the importance of vitamin K and its dietary sources, so keep reading to learn more.
What is Vitamin K?
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Vitamin K is a group of closely related, fat-soluble compounds in various foods. Vitamin K1 is sourced from leafy greens and certain vegetables, while vitamin K2 is primarily found in meats, cheeses, and eggs and can also be synthesized by bacteria.
This nutrient is essential for blood clotting and maintaining healthy bones and heart function. To maintain optimal health, it is recommended that women consume at least 90 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K daily, while men should aim for a minimum of 120 mcg per day.
A vitamin K deficiency can have serious consequences and contribute to various health issues.
Even a prolonged period of receiving less than the recommended amount of vitamin K can negatively impact overall health and potentially lead to problems such as Reduced bone mineral density, Increased risk of heart disease, Development of osteoporosis, Higher likelihood of tooth decay, Increased susceptibility to bleeding or difficulties in blood clotting, Elevated risk of certain types of cancer, Formation of vascular calcification, and Impairment of cognitive function.
Adding Vitamin K to your food
Current dietary guidelines do not differentiate between vitamins K-1 and K-2. It is recommended to include both types for optimal health. A balanced diet rich in fruits and vegetables can provide sufficient vitamin K, especially K-1, found in dark, leafy greens.
Getting enough vitamin K-2 might be more challenging, as it is mainly found in meat and animal products. Although healthy gut bacteria produce some K-2, consuming it through dietary sources like meat, liver, and certain dairy products is essential.
Examples Of Food With Vitamin K
Spinach is known for its abundant vitamin K, making it an excellent dietary source of this essential nutrient. Just a 100-gram serving of raw spinach can supply a substantial amount of vitamin K, meeting a significant portion of the body’s daily requirements.
Including spinach in your diet can be an effective strategy to ensure sufficient vitamin K intake.
Soybeans are a notable vitamin K source, providing both K-1 and K-2. Nevertheless, soybeans’ actual vitamin K content may differ based on the soybean type and its preparation or processing.
While raw soybeans have a moderate amount of vitamin K-1, the fermentation process used in making specific soy products like natto enhances the vitamin K-2 content. Natto, a traditional Japanese food made from fermented soybeans, is particularly renowned for its high vitamin K-2 content.
Green peas possess a variety of vitamins, such as B2, B3, B6, C, E, and K, along with folate and beta-carotene. Beta-carotene has the potential to be converted into vitamin A by the body.
Naturally, green peas are abundant in vitamin K, supplying approximately 24 micrograms per 100 grams, making up about 30% of the recommended daily intake for adults.
Being a plant-based vitamin K source, green peas are an excellent choice for vegetarians and vegans who may not consume animal products.
Adding cabbage to your diet is a natural and wholesome method to acquire vitamin K, as well as other vital nutrients. Whether enjoyed raw in salads or cooked in various dishes like soups or stir-fries, cabbage is a member of the cruciferous vegetable group, along with broccoli, cauliflower, and kale. These vegetables are all exceptional sources of vitamin K.
Avocado is renowned for its abundant supply of beneficial monounsaturated fats, making it more easily absorbed alongside some dietary fat. The inclusion of healthy fats in avocados can improve the absorption of vitamin K.
Moreover, avocados are rich in vitamin K and provide various other vital nutrients such as vitamin C, vitamin E, potassium, and dietary fibre.
Chicken liver is recognized as a plentiful vitamin K source, containing substantial amounts of vitamin K2, specifically menaquinone-4. Animals naturally produce this type of vitamin K which is more easily absorbed and utilized by the body compared to vitamin K1 found in plant-based sources.
Consuming a 100g serving of chicken liver can provide around 110-130 micrograms of vitamin K2, significantly surpassing the recommended daily intake for adults (approximately 90-120 micrograms).
Therefore, chicken liver is an excellent choice for those seeking to boost their vitamin K levels. However, it is essential to monitor cholesterol levels, as chicken liver is high in cholesterol.
Vitamin K exists in two forms and can be obtained from leafy greens and animal products. It promotes bone and heart health. It is worth mentioning that excessive intake of vitamin K can have some potential side effects, although these effects are generally minimal when consuming vitamin K from food sources alone.