Vitamin K: Everything you need to know


Vitamin K isn’t just one vitamin, but a group of compounds. These fat-solubles include vitamin K1 (phylloquinone), vitamin K2 MK-4 (menaquinone-4), and vitaminK2 MK-7 (menaquinone-7). Vitamin K is a powerful vitamin the helps direct calcium and prevent excessive bleeding by helping create blood clots. Coagulation requires vitamin K to produces these proteins both internally and externally in the body. Vitamin K1 is found adequately in the foods we eat and vitamin K2 is produced naturally within the body.

Vitamin K Deficiency Risk Factors

Low levels of vitamin K can lead to uncontrolled bleeding internally and externally. Without vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 to produce proteins that help coagulation, the risk of excessive bleeding increases.  Blood clotting is important to stop bleeding. Vitamin K deficiency is very rare in adults because most diets contain an adequate amount of vitamin K.  However vitamin K deficiency is common in infants during the first few weeks of infancy. When vitamin K transport across the placenta or low levels of vitamin K in breast milk are present, there is in increase in risk of vitamin K deficiency for newborn babies.

Foods High in Vitamin K

Vitamin K can be found in a variety of foods including:

  • green leafy vegetables
  • broccoli
  • brussel sprouts
  • natto (fermented Japanese soybeans)
  • meats
  • cheeses
  • eggs

Spinach, kale, Swiss chard, collard greens, and green beans are common sources of vitamin K. Meats such as beef liver, pork chops, and chicken also contain vitamin K. Other sources that contain significant vitamin K include prunes, kiwis, cheeses, avocados, and soybean oil, and canola oil.

Recommended Adequate Intake

Due to the lack of scientific information, there isn’t a recommended dietary allowance for vitamin K. Instead, the recommended adequate intake of vitamin K is 120 mcg.  Optimal levels differ depending on age and health conditions so when in doubt always check with your doctor.

Signs and Symptoms of Deficiency

Vitamin K deficiency is extremely rare, but those with malabsorption issues may experience excessive bleeding, weakening of the bones, and an increase in risk for heart disease. Other common symptoms of vitamin K include bruising easily and dark black stools. A blood test or prothrombin time test can help your doctor identify vitamin K deficiency.

Vitamin K Deficiency Treatments

Vitamin K deficiency treatments depend on the severity of the condition. Most vitamin K deficiencies at birth can be treated with vitamin K supplements in form of an injection or orally.

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by Insider Envy Staff

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