May 22, 2024

When people think of foods with vitamin K, they often credit them with helping with blood clotting. And indeed, this vitamin is required in the synthesis of several blood proteins involved in clotting. Vitamin K also activates proteins that strengthen bones and help them grow, reducing the risk of fractures.

Certain types of vitamin K contain disease-fighting antioxidants. We asked experts to explain why incorporating this vitamin into your diet is a healthy habit that can boost your immune system. We have also rounded up the best food sources of vitamin K to help you keep your intake steady.


What Is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is the collective name of a family of compounds. “There are different categories within vitamin K,” says Rayanne Nguyen, RD, a specialist in sports nutrition. “You have vitamin K1, which is found in dark leafy greens and soybean oil, and also vitamin K2 and some others, which can be found in smaller amounts in animal products.” Fermented foods also contain vitamin K2.


How to Improve Absorption

As a fat-soluble vitamin, vitamin K from food is best absorbed when there’s fat or oil in the same environment. So when you’re having your green vegetables, toss them in some oil to increase your intake. However, some people with underlying health conditions may need more help and possibly a supplement to improve their nutrient absorption.

“If someone has a disease that impacts the gastrointestinal tract, like celiac disease or Crohn’s disease, they may not absorb the vitamin K from their food as well,” says Nguyen. In these cases, the physician and dietitian would monitor the person’s vitamin K levels more regularly and may start them on a supplement.


Precautions

There are people who need to be more mindful about their intake of vitamin K-rich foods. Since vitamin K supports blood clotting, if you are on a medication to prevent clotting, sudden increases in vitamin K intake may interfere with your medication, says Nijya Saffo, RD, owner of NK Fitness and Nutrition, LLC.

“There’s no evidence that you have to stop eating vitamin K foods when you’re on these kinds of medications, but you don’t want to overdo it and suddenly start taking vitamin K supplements or eat large amounts of foods with vitamin K in it.” Speak with your doctor if you are taking blood thinners before you dramatically alter your diet by either eliminating or adding foods high in vitamin K.


Daily Recommended Value

So how much vitamin K do you need? The unofficial daily value for vitamin K is between 90 and 120 micrograms. For context, one cup of raw spinach contains more than 100% of the daily recommended value, so you don’t need to eat much of the foods listed below to consume a healthy amount of vitamin K. While a consistent intake is important, you don’t want to overdo it.


Foods High in Vitamin K

Your body treats vitamin K like fat and stores it in your liver and fat tissues. “We can rely on our body stores a little bit more than [we can for] some of our water-soluble vitamins,” says Nguyen. But at the same time, your body isn’t able to make enough vitamin K consistently and relies on you getting it from the foods you eat.

Here are several vitamin K-rich foods and ways to incorporate them into your diet.


Kale

Jennifer Causey


There are 113 micrograms of vitamin K in a cup of uncooked kale, providing 94% of the DV. Roast your kale with a drizzle of olive oil and a dash of salt to enjoy a crunchy, high-vitamin K snack.



Collard Greens

Jonny Valiant


This is a sign to whip out a Southern-style collard greens recipe now and again. A half-cup serving of cooked collard greens provides over 400% of the DV of vitamin K (530 micrograms).



Swiss Chard

Charles Masters


These bitter greens seem to have an edge when it comes to vitamin K. There are 150 micrograms in half a cup of cooked Swiss chard (over 125% of the DV).



Spinach

Greg DuPree


If you prefer something with a milder, less bitter flavor, a cup of uncooked spinach is another option with 145 micrograms of vitamin K (121% of the DV).



Broccoli

Con Poulos


Just half a cup of cooked broccoli already contains 110 micrograms of vitamin K or 92% of the DV. Pair it with some cheese (fat!) to boost vitamin K absorption.



Brussels Sprouts

Heami Lee


Brussels sprouts contain 78 micrograms of vitamin K in half a cup, which meets 65% of the DV. Toss these in olive oil and salt, and roast until tender on the inside and crispy on the outside.



Romaine Lettuce

Greg DuPree


Having a large salad with two cups of romaine lettuce (hello, caesar salad!) would give you 96 micrograms, or about 80% of the DV, of vitamin K.



Parsley

Victor Protasio


Garnishing your bowl of soup with one tablespoon of fresh parsley offers you 62 micrograms, 50% of your daily vitamin K needs.



Prunes

Jennifer Causey


If you’re already having a daily dose of prunes for gut health, you’d be pleased to know it also offers vitamin K. A snack of six prunes contains 34 micrograms or 28% of the DV.



Turnips

Danny Kim

These brown sugar-glazed turnips are a surprisingly sweet way to get 426 micrograms of vitamin K in a ½ cup serving. That’s 355% of the DV!




Edamame

Greg DuPree

This light and tasty pasta salad recipe includes a 12-ounce bag of edamame. Just ½ cup of edamame has 21 micrograms of vitamin K, which is 18% of the DV.




Pine Nuts

Mikkel Vang

The toasted pine nuts don’t just give these green beans a burst of flavor. They also provide 15 micrograms of vitamin K, which is 13% of the DV.




Pumpkin

Victor Protasio

The recipe for this decadent pasta dish calls for over 3 ½ cups of pumpkin puree. In just ½ cup of canned pumpkin, there are 20 micrograms of vitamin K, which is 17% of the DV.




Okra

Hector Manuel Sanchez

Alongside many other healthy veggies (like onions, peppers, and garlic), this warm and lightly spicy gumbo includes 2 cups of okra. Just ½ cup of okra contains 16 micrograms of vitamin K, which is. 13% of the DV.




Blueberries

Con Poulos

These healthy blueberry muffins contain heart-strengthening flax seed oil and an entire cup of oats. The 2 cups of blueberries offer lots of vitamin K. There are 14 micrograms of vitamin K, which is 12% of the DV.



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