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Food & Snack Sources of Vitamin K

The body gets its energy from carbohydrates, protein, and fat, but it also depends on vitamins and minerals for healthy functioning. These micronutrients promote enzymatic reactions and keep cells healthy. Vitamin K is a particularly important vitamin for cellular health. It is one of four fat-soluble vitamins (the others are vitamins A, D, and E), meaning that excess amounts are stored in fat tissue.

What Is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is actually not a single compound but actually refers to a group of vitamins; and, the different subtypes may each have different effects within the body. There are three natural forms of the vitamin: K1, K2, and K3 (WH Foods, 2015). The most abundant form is vitamin K1, which is found in a variety of plant foods. Vitamins K2 and K3 are synthesized by bacteria. Thus, these subtypes of vitamin K can be found in high concentrations in fermented foods. The body can also convert vitamins K1 and K3 to vitamin K2 when necessary.

Physiological Role of Vitamin K

The “K” in vitamin K actually stands for the German word for coagulation (koagulation). This is because it was first discovered for its role in blood clotting (Booth, 2014). The blood contains several clotting factors that depend on the presence of vitamin K to function. Without vitamin K, the blood does not coagulate properly, meaning that a person may continue bleeding after suffering an injury.

In addition to its role in blood clotting, vitamin K is used for a variety of other cellular processes. It is important for enzymatic reactions, maintenance of strong bones, and regulation of cardiovascular functioning. In bones, vitamin K prevents osteoclasts -- cells that break down bone tissue -- from becoming overactivated. The vitamin also affects bone structure in a way that makes it less likely to fracture (Booth, 2014).

Vitamin K Daily Recommended Intake

The National Institutes of Health (2016) have set recommended daily intakes for vitamin K. Adult men need 120 micrograms of vitamin K per day, while adult women need 90 micrograms. Unlike some other vitamins and minerals, pregnant or breastfeeding women do not need more of the vitamin.

Failing to get enough vitamin K in your diet may cause a nutritional deficiency. Vitamin K deficiency is rare among adults, although people with chronic diseases that cause malabsorption of nutrients may be at risk. Symptoms of vitamin K deficiency include bruising easily, blood clotting problems, bloody stool or urine, and excessive menstrual bleeding.

Healthy Food and Snack Sources of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is readily found in a variety of foods, many of which are plant based. Dark green vegetables are sources of vitamin K1. For example: eating plenty of kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, pumpkin, pine nuts, blueberries, spinach, turnip greens, or broccoli can help you get enough (National Institutes of Health, 2016).

Vitamin K2 is more often found in fermented foods. For example, fermented soybeans (such as natto, miso, tempeh, and soy sauce) are sources of vitamin K2. Low amounts of vitamin K are found in dairy products like cheese or yogurt.

Recipes Containing Vitamin K

The following recipes offer ways to add additional vitamin K to your diet with recipes that are all-around healthy.

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding

Pumpkin Chia Seed Pudding Recipe

This palatable pudding provides a culinary treat that combines several sources of the vitamin, including both pumpkin and blueberries. The recipe is easy to follow for a quick breakfast that is also full of both protein and fiber.
Ingredients: Milk, pumpkin puree, chia seeds, maple syrup, pumpkin spice, sunflower seeds, sliced almonds, fresh blueberries.
Total Time: 10 minutes | Yield: 4 188-gram servings

Broccoli Quinoa Salad {gluten-free}

Broccoli Quinoa Salad Recipe {gluten-free}

Broccoli is a superfood that supplies so many of the essential nutrients we need that recipes that make use of it are often among the most wholesome. Just half a cup of broccoli supplies more than 100% of the Daily Value for vitamin K.
Ingredients: Fresh broccoli, quinoa, cucumber, cherry tomatoes, raw pumpkin seeds, sea salt, black pepper, Dijon mustard (optional), vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, maple syrup.
Total Time: 1 hour | Yield: 8 217-gram servings

Kale Quinoa Salad

Kale Quinoa Salad Recipe

Kale is another superfood that offers an abundance of different nutrients. Kale and eggs both add to the vitamin K content of this dish, and both ingredients also serve to supply an ample amount of other essential vitamins and minerals.
Ingredients: Quinoa, fresh baby kale, purple cabbage, carrots, fresh dill, boiled eggs, rice wine, extra virgin olive oil, black pepper.
Total Time: 25 minutes | Yield: 8 210-gram servings

Snack Sources of Vitamin K

The following snacks contain vitamin K and offer a great taste to help you add more of the nutrient to your diet!

References

Booth, S.L. (2014). Vitamin K. Linus Pauling Institute. Retrieved from http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/vitamins/vitamin-K

National Institutes of Health (2016). Retrieved from https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminK-HealthProfessional/

WH Foods (2015). Vitamin K. Retrieved from http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=nutrient&dbid=112