Vitamin K - what it is and where you can get it

You hear it all the time, whether it be from your doctor, your parents, or friends: are you taking your vitamins? Well, it’s easier said than done when there are 13 essential vitamins, all with their own benefits (1). Vitamins don’t necessarily need to be taken as a supplement, either. Vitamins are found in foods that you eat every day. However, if you aren’t familiar with each vitamin, how can you ensure you are getting enough of them?

Let’s focus on Vitamin K.

Vitamin K is actually a group of vitamins, rather than just one (2). One of the key functions of Vitamin K is blood clotting (3). Without it, your body would struggle to heal wounds. Typically, people get enough Vitamin K through their diet. However, if you’re not having enough, you could experience bruising, as well as uncontrollable bleeding. 

In addition to blood clotting, there are some studies that show Vitamin K also helps keep bones healthy (4). It helps the bones by preventing fractures, and also by increasing bone mineral density for people with osteoporosis. 

As mentioned earlier, most people do get enough Vitamin K simply by eating foods that contain it. Most women should aim for 90 mg of Vitamin K a day, while men will want to get around 120 mg each day (5). One group that can be at risk is newborn babies, which is why it is commonplace for babies to receive a Vitamin K injection at birth. In addition, people who have just undergone weight loss surgery, or people with conditions like cystic fibrosis or celiac disease, may need to ensure they are getting enough Vitamin K each day.

You’re probably wondering which foods that you eat are providing your body with its Vitamin K needs. Here’s a list of examples that you either already eat, or may give you ideas to help implement more into your diet.

Vitamin K rich foods:

  • Green, leafy vegetables (6)
    • Kale
    • Spinach
    • Romaine
    • Parsley
    • Cooked beet greens
    • Sauteed mustard greens
    • Swiss chard
  • Vegetables, continued
    • Broccoli
    • Asparagus
    • Cauliflower
    • Cabbage
    • Brussels sprouts
    • Scallions, or green onions
    • cucumber
  • Other options
    • Prunes
    • Full-fat  yogurt
    • Blue cheese
    • Basil
    • Soybeans
    • Extra virgin olive oil

So, while the foods listed above will likely provide you with enough Vitamin K, your body also helps provide itself with this Vitamin. Bacteria in your colon produce some Vitamin K, which your body then absorbs.

For many vitamins, people take a supplement to ensure they are getting enough of it. However, this is not something you will want to do for Vitamin K. Since it is hard to reach a deficiency, you don’t need to worry about it anyhow. However, having too much of it could cause an issue with toxicity (7). Having too much won’t occur from your everyday diet, or even a diet focused on Vitamin K intake. A supplement is really the only way you’d find yourself having this issue. 

In all, you don’t really need to focus on your Vitamin K intake. It’s helpful to know the benefits, especially if you’re someone with celiac disease or cystic fibrosis who may need to focus on eating it. However, since most people get enough just by living their lives, you don’t need to base your diet off of this mighty Vitamin.

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