A breakdown on Vitamin K

Most people aren’t too familiar with vitamin K, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important. Vitamin K deficiencies are rare, but not getting enough through your diet or other sources can lead to uncontrolled bleeding and other negative health effects.


But what exactly does vitamin K do, how much do you need, and where can you get it?


Keep reading for the answers to those questions and many more. 


What is vitamin K?

The term “vitamin K” refers to a group of compounds, the most important of which are vitamins K1 and K2.


These compounds help make the proteins your body needs for bone growth and blood clotting. For example, if you get a paper cut, vitamin K helps prevent your body from bleeding nonstop. 


In recent years, some people have tried using vitamin K2 to treat osteoporosis and other bone-loss conditions. However, the research is inconclusive, and as of now, health experts recommend turning to other treatment plans for relief. 


Additional benefits

Besides helping with blood clotting and bone health, data shows that vitamin K can benefit your body in other ways.


For instance, one 2015 study found that vitamin K can help prevent calcium deposits from building up in your blood vessels, thereby lowering your risk of coronary heart disease (1). Likewise, a 2018 study found that vitamin K can help prevent cancer, specifically suppressing tumor growth (2). 


While both of these reports appear promising, researchers emphasize that additional studies are needed before drawing concrete conclusions. 


How much do you need?

Vitamin K is found in many foods we often eat (more on that below). Because of that, it’s not hard to meet the recommended daily intake. Here’s the recommended vitamin K intake from food and other sources:

  • Children 0-6 months: 2 micrograms per day
  • Children 7-12 months: 2.5 micrograms per day
  • Children 1-3: 30 micrograms per day
  • Children 4-8: 55 micrograms per day
  • Children 9-13: 60 micrograms per day
  • Teenagers 14-18: 75 micrograms per day
  • Women 19 and up: 90 micrograms per day
  • Men 19 and up: 120 micrograms per day


Where can you get vitamin K?

Most people get vitamin K1 from dark, leafy green vegetables. This includes sources such as kale, swiss chard, spinach, broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts. 


Vitamin K2 comes from dairy products like cheese, fermented foods, and organ meats


Factors that put you at risk for deficiency 

As mentioned, most people get enough vitamin K through their diet. However, certain factors can put you at risk of developing a deficiency. These include:

  • Taking drugs that prevent your body from absorbing vitamin K
  • Drinking excessive amounts of alcohol
  • Being malnourished 
  • Having a disease that makes absorption difficult for your digestive tract (like Crohn’s disease)

If any of those factors relate to you, speak with your doctor to ensure that you’re getting enough vitamin K.


The takeaway 

Vitamin K is an essential compound that helps with bone growth and blood clotting and may also provide some additional benefits.

As long as you have a balanced diet and don’t have any pre-existing health conditions, you should have no problem getting all of the vitamin K your body needs.

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