Vitamin K Rich Food: Which Ones Are Rich in Vitamin K?

You can’t live without Vitamin K. Your body needs it for clotting properly, and in fact its name comes from the Danish word “koagulation.” Specifically, Vitamin K activates some proteins necessary for blood clotting, including one called thrombin. Vitamin K is also needed for making the proteins that regulate calcium, an important mineral in your body, and it has a role in bone formation.

Requirements for Vitamin K are small, a mere 90 to 120 micrograms per day at most. It takes 1,000 micrograms to equal one milligram. Vitamin K deficiencies are rare, since bacteria in your gut can create it from the raw materials in the food you eat. Vitamin K is one of the fat-soluble vitamins, so its absorption in your large and small intestines depends on having enough dietary fat, bile and juices from the pancreas.

Functions of Vitamin K

Certain drugs, including blood thinners such as coumaden, can interfere with what’s known as the Vitamin K cycle. This cycle is a series of chemical reactions in your body. Those reactions allow the vitamin to act with calcium and with proteins needed for proper blood clotting. The government Dietary Reference Intakes recommendations are 120 mcg for men and 90 mcg for women.

Foods Rich in Vitamin K

Foods that are the richest in this vitamin are leafy green vegetables, especially broccoli, cabbage, turnip greens, and the dark-green colored lettuces. The amount of Vitamin K varies in food sources such as dairy products, meats and eggs. Vitamin K is not destroyed by regular cooking methods or lost in cooking water, because it’s relatively stable. However, it is sensitive to light.

Specific Examples of Foods Rich in Vitamin K

One cup of raw spinach contains just over three times as much Vitamin K as a man needs daily. A cup of iceberg lettuce has about half a man’s daily needs, and a cup of raw broccoli has slightly less. A cup of raw cabbage provides more than the daily recommendation and a cup of raw green beans, about half a day’s needs. On the other hand, a cup of raw carrots or one medium baked potato would provide just four micrograms of Vitamin K.

Deficiencies of Vitamin K

Deficiencies of Vitamin K are rare because there are rich food sources and because bacteria in the gut can synthesize the vitamin. The major sign of a deficiency would be bleeding. In severe cases, this could cause anemia. Newborns are vulnerable in the first few days of life because they don’t yet have enough bacteria in their guts to make the vitamin and because breast milk tends to be low in Vitamin K. That’s why newborns often are given a dose of  Vitamin K.

Can You Overdose on Vitamin K?

Research has not shown adverse effects from too much Vitamin K from eating foods that are rich in it. But a synthetic Vitamin K, also known as menadione or K3, is more potent than naturally occurring forms of the vitamin. In very large doses it can produce jaundice in infants.

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