nutrition

How to Increase Your Intake of Vitamin K: The 12 Best Foods

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

Medically Reviewed by

Dr. Carla Montrond Correia ND, CNS

5 min read

a pan full of broccoli and brussel sprouts

There are several delicious foods that are rich in vitamin K. Continue to read to learn how to increase your intake of vitamin K.

What Is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It can come in the form of phylloquinone, which is found in leafy green vegetables, or it can come in the form of menaquinones, which is part of some animal and fermented foods.

Vitamin K content can be found in the body, mostly in the liver, brain, heart, pancreas, and bones. It breaks down pretty quickly, and you secrete it through urine or stool. That's why it's pretty difficult to ever have toxic levels of Vitamin K in your body.

The amount of Vitamin K that needs to be consumed is 120 micrograms (mcg) daily for men over 19 years of age and 90 mcg for women over 19. This is the adequate intake (AI).

Health Benefits of Vitamin K

Vitamin K has a lot of benefits to it. This is why getting enough foods containing vitamin K is crucial to your health!

Blood Clotting Capability

Vitamin K makes different proteins that your body needs for blood clotting and building your bones. This ensures that if you get hurt, your body can close the cut or scrape with a blood clot so that you don't continue to bleed. A vitamin K deficiency would reduce your body's ability to produce a blood clot when it needs one.

Bone Health

Vitamin K also helps your body produce healthy bone tissue. This will keep you from developing weak bones, which can lead to other bone issues. There is a vitamin K dependent protein called osteocalcin which plays a role in bone mineralization and density. Vitamin K deficiency can result in low bone mineral density.

Heart Health

A lack of vitamin K can also contribute to heart issues. Vitamin K promotes calcium balance and promotes vascular health overall.

Signs of a Vitamin K Deficiency

If you have a vitamin K deficiency, you'll want to know so that you can address it. Luckily, there are a couple of ways to tell if you are deficient without a blood test (although this is always the most accurate way to tell).

If you notice that you are bruising really easily, like if you accidentally hit your arm or walk into something with your leg, you may have a deficiency. If you are bleeding really easily as well, this could be another sign. Still, the best way to determine whether you have a deficiency is have a medical professional do a blood test.

Foods High in Vitamin K

Luckily for you, there are many medically-reviewed foods that contain Vitamin K that you can eat on a daily basis to make sure you are getting enough of the vitamin. Here are a few of the most popular foods with Vitamin K!

1. Fermented Soybeans

Fermented soybeans, also known as Natto, are commonly eaten for breakfast in Japan. Their nutritional value is amazing and eating them can improve the levels of Vitamin K in your body.

2. Turnip Greens

Part of the cruciferous vegetable family, turnip greens are delicious and can help with your levels of vitamin K.

3. Leafy Green Vegetables

Arugula, bok choy, collard greens, and swiss chard are all examples of leafy green vegetables that you can consume to improve your vitamin K levels. You can eat these raw or cook them for another type of dish.

4. Kale

This is a green leafy vegetable. It is great in its raw form as well as in cooked form. Try eating kale in your next salad to reap all of the nutritional benefits.

5. Collard Greens

Collard greens are usually part of a common southern meal, but they are delicious everywhere! You can try different ways of eating them, too.

6. Brussels Sprouts

Not only are Brussel sprouts delicious, but they are also full of vitamin K. Try them raw in a salad or cooked with balsamic vinaigrette.

7. Broccoli

Broccoli is full of calcium and vitamin K. One cup of cooked broccoli has 164 mcg of vitamin K.

8. Asparagus

While you may have the gene that causes your pee to smell after you eat asparagus, it's worth it for the health benefits. Although it doesn't have as much Vitamin K per cup as broccoli, it still has plenty!

9. Cucumber

This vegetable is another great choice if you want to increase your intake of vitamin K. Try eating cucumbers in a salad or simply dip them into hummus!

10. Blueberries

Blueberries are an antioxidant superfood. Blueberries have so many nutritious qualities and its supply of vitamin K is one of the many.

11. Edamame

Edamame is a traditional appetizer that you may find at Asian restaurants, or you may simply love to eat edamame as a snack on a random weeknight! This is great because it is full of Vitamin K.

12. Apple

They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. It also fills you with Vitamin K!

How to Incorporate Vitamin K Into Your Diet

There are several ways to incorporate Vitamin K into your diet. While you can always eat these foods, you can also use a vitamin K supplement.

Potential Side Effects

Because vitamin K breaks down so quickly, it is not often that you will feel side effects from an intake of the supplement. However, if you do, you may experience:

  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Fast or irregular breathing
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Skin rash
  • Swelling
  • Tightness in your chest

The Right Intake of Vitamin K

Making sure you get enough intake of Vitamin K in your diet is crucial. The right amount of Vitamin K can make sure that you have great bone health and heart health. It can also ensure that you have blood clotting capabilities that will help stop excessive bleeding.

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