Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient that comes in two main forms, vitamin K1 and K2 (1, 2). Vitamin K2 comes with a collection of different compounds or subgroups called MKs (3). The most common ones include MK-4, MK-7, and MK-9, because they have the most research behind them (4, 5, 6).
Vitamin K is also available as a supplement. Popular supplements are vitamin K as MK-4 and MK-7 because studies show they are effective in preventing arterial calcification that results in cardiovascular events (7, 8, 9).
The primary function of vitamin K1 is to activate clotting proteins in the body (10, 11). Vitamin K2 manages calcium and reverses arterial calcification (12, 13). The common prescription drug, Warfarin or Coumadin, prevents the body’s conversion of vitamin K1 to K2, which is necessary to prevent arterial calcification (14). It may be beneficial to ask your doctor about supplementing with vitamin K2 if you take this drug.
Vitamin K as MK-7 provides many important health benefits. One study shows supplementing with vitamin K as MK-7 reduces vascular calcification in those with coronary artery disease (12). Other studies show it helps regulate osteoporosis, cancer, inflammatory diseases, atherosclerosis without showing any risk of negative side effects (3, 15, 16, 17).
Table of Contents
- 1 Foods high in Vitamin K
- 2 Conclusion
Foods high in Vitamin K
This essential vitamin is a powerful nutrient necessary to stay healthy and free from disease. Vitamin K is in many different types of foods. Find out what foods are high in vitamin K and see how you can start incorporating more into your daily routine.
Natto is a traditional Japanese food made from soybeans with a particularly pungent taste and smell. Natto is typically a breakfast food in Japan, and it comes with a sticky, gooey texture. It is also full of vitamin K (18, 19). Just 1 ounce of natto contains 850 mcg of vitamin K, which makes up over 700 percent of the daily recommended intake (20).
Natto breaks down in the body as MK-7 (21), which is a form of vitamin K in fermented foods. Natto is a highly nutritious food to start adding to your daily routine if you like the taste.
2. Some Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are one of the highest groups of vitamin K1 foods, especially collard greens, turnip greens, raw spinach, and kale (22, 23). Broccoli is another green vegetable high in vitamin K (22). Collard greens have the most vitamin K with 530 mcg in just a half a cup (22).
Turnip greens follow with 426 mcg in a half a cup, making up 355 percent of the daily recommended intake (24). Spinach follows with 145 mcg in 1 cup. Broccoli and kale make up the lowest group at just over 100 mcg per average serving size (25). Leafy green vegetables are a great choice to incorporate into your daily diet, as they help prevent heart disease, stroke, and much more (26, 27, 28).
Just a half a cup of roasted soybeans contains 43 mcg of vitamin K (3). If you don’t have access to it, soybeans are the next best option. Natto is simply the fermented version of soybeans.
Soybean oil is also beneficial to add to most diets. One tablespoon of soybean oil also has 24 mcg of vitamin K (29). Immature soybeans are known as edamame, which is also a great way to get in more vitamin K. Edamame is naturally encased in pods and are a traditional Asian appetizer. Soybean and soybean oil are easy to add to your diet. You can add them in as a snack or mix them into your favorite salads and pasta.
Pumpkin is another excellent choice of vitamin K (30). Pumpkin can be easily added to flavor many dishes, too. Add pumpkin to your favorite baked goods, soups, smoothies, and much more to get some more nutrition into your diet. Just a half a cup of canned pumpkin contains 20 mcg of vitamin K. Canned or fresh pumpkin contains the same amount of beneficial vitamin K nutrition.
Okra is a highly nutritious food that contains vitamin K, protein, healthy fats, potassium, fiber, vitamin C, vitamin A, folate, and more (31, 32). Only a half a cup of raw okra contains 16 mcg of vitamin K. Okra is rich in antioxidants (33), so it is also a powerful anti-cancer and heart-healthy food (34, 35). Okra goes well with many protein choices from tofu to chicken and beef.
6. Pine Nuts and Cashews
Pine nuts and cashews are the best nuts to eat to get your fill of vitamin K (36, 37). Pine nuts have a higher amount at 15 mcg per one ounce, but cashews are a close second. Cashews contain 10 mcg of vitamin K per one ounce. Both nuts are great to add to many dishes. Pine nuts go well toasted on top of vegetables like sweet potatoes, and cashews make a great snack or main ingredient in vegan cheese.
7. Blueberries and Blackberries
Berries like blueberries and blackberries are nutrition powerhouses with vitamin K, fiber, vitamin C, antioxidants, and much more (38, 39). Blackberries contain 29 mcg of vitamin K, which makes up more than one-third of the daily recommended requirement. Blueberries are right behind with 14 mcg per half a cup. Toss some berries into your next breakfast to reap the many benefits.
8. Iceberg Lettuce
Although leafy greens top the vitamin K1 world with their high quantities, iceberg lettuce is beneficial to add to your diet too (22). Iceberg lettuce has 14 mcg of vitamin K in just one cup. It trails behind leafy greens, but it is still full of nutrition. It also has a plethora of other vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, magnesium, folate, calcium, and more (40, 41).
9. Chicken and Beef
Chicken and beef are high in vitamin K2 that breaks down as MK-4 in the body (42). Chicken is higher than beef with 13 mcg per serving, while beef has 6 mcg. MK-4 reaches most tissues in the body better than other MK forms (43, 44). Chicken and beef are excellent sources of lean protein, too. If you watch your portion sizes, these meats are a healthy part of a balanced diet.
Carrots and carrot juice contain a hefty amount of vitamin K (45), especially carrot juice. Carrot juice contains a much higher dose of vitamin K than one carrot (46), at 28 mcg in just ¾ cup. One medium carrot contains 8 mcg of the vitamin. Carrots are also high in vitamin A (47, 48), so they help promote eyesight as well. Get juicing with your carrots if you think you need more vitamin K in your life.
One large egg breaks down in the body as vitamin K2 and MK-4 (49), and it contains 4 mcg of vitamin K2. Eggs are an easy and excellent way to incorporate more vitamins and minerals into most diets. Make sure to enjoy the entirety of the egg, because the yolk is where most of the nutrition is, including vitamin K2 (50).
Figs are a delicious and nutritious snack full of vitamin K (51). Just ¼ cup of dried figs contains 6 mcg of vitamin K, along with a heaping dose of fiber. Figs are one of the best forms of fiber in any dried fruit (52). They are also high in vitamin A, potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, and antioxidants (53, 54).
Dairy is not as high in vitamin K, but it still contains a decent amount of this crucial nutrient (55). Cheddar cheese contains the highest amount at 4 mcg per one and a half ounces, which breaks down as MK-4 in the body. Mozzarella cheese also contains vitamin K with 2 mcg per one and a half ounce serving (56). One cup of 2 percent milk contains 1 mcg of vitamin K, which also breaks down as MK-4 (57).
Vitamin K is in many different types of food but different forms. Vitamin K1 is mostly in leafy green vegetables (22, 23), while vitamin K2 is primarily in meat, in the subgroup form MK-4 (42). The subgroups of vitamin K2, MK-7, 8, and 9, are most abundant in fermented foods such as natto (18, 19). Vitamin K is a complex yet critical nutrient that everyone needs to get enough of throughout the day.
It can also be harder to get vitamin K2 in the form of MK-7, 8, and 9, as it’s mostly in fermented foods (58). Try to vary your diet as best as possible to get all the important forms of vitamin K out there.
If you think you may not be getting enough vitamin K from your diet, speak with your doctor about your concerns. Remember blood-thinning drugs like Warfarin interact with the conversion of vitamin K1 to K2 (59), so be sure to speak with your healthcare professional if you take this common prescription drug.