Vitamin K and its important role in the body

Vitamin K is an important nutrient that has been linked to improved insulin levels, reduced cancer risk, and heart protection. Not only that, vitamin K can also promote blood clot formation and keep bones strong. An adequate supply of vitamin K is indispensable for our health. Join to find out information about vitamin K and how to get enough vitamin K.

What is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is an important nutrient that plays a role in many bodily functions. From bone metabolism to blood sugar control.

It falls into two main categories: Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone). Vitamin K1 is the most common source present mainly in plant foods such as green vegetables. Vitamin K2, on the other hand, is found in animal products and fermented foods. Foods rich in this vitamin include meat, dairy, and fermented soybeans.

With a healthy, balanced diet, vitamin K deficiency is rare. Because it is rich in healthy foods like vegetables. Processed foods and refined sugars are foods that are low in vitamin K. If these foods make up the majority of your diet, you may not be getting enough of the vitamin.

Vitamin K is abundant in green vegetables

Vitamin K is abundant in green vegetables

Vitamin K deficiency is very serious. May lead to: bruising, bleeding, tooth decay and weak bones. Therefore, it is very important to ensure that your diet contains one or two vitamin K-rich fruits and vegetables.

Types of Vitamin K

There are different types of vitamin K available:

  • Natural (K1, K2);
  • Synthesis (K3).

The two main forms of vitamin K  obtained from the daily diet are: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is also known as phytonadione. While vitamin K2 is called menaquinone. Vitamin K3 is a synthetic form called menadione.

Vitamin K1

Primarily found in vegetables, green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage.

Vitamin K2

Found in fermented dairy products and also produced by bacteria in the gut. The main role for heart protection. In fact, vitamin K2 seems to be more effective than vitamin K1 at preventing and reversing arterial blockages.

Vitamin K3

This is a multivitamin. However, it’s best to eat plenty of whole foods that are high in vitamin K and other important nutrients rather than relying on supplements.

The role of vitamin K in the body

Prevent cancer

Some evidence has found that vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 can help kill cancer cells and reduce the risk of cancer.

In a study from the Department of Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine at the University of Toronto: 440 postmenopausal women with weak bones were given vitamin K1 supplements for two years. Interestingly, taking vitamin K1 was associated with a 75% reduction in cancer incidence.

Another study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition including: 24,340 participants found that a higher intake of vitamin K2 was associated with a reduced risk of cancer.

Furthermore, many foods rich in vitamin K are also on the list of top antioxidant foods. Foods rich in vitamin K like green vegetables contain cancer-fighting antioxidants. It helps prevent damage from free radicals and reduces the risk of cancer. This makes these ingredients one of the best anti-cancer foods.

Help strengthen bones

Getting enough vitamin K1 in your diet is key to maintaining healthy bones. It is involved in bone metabolism and increases the amount of protein needed to maintain calcium in the bones. Several studies have found that:   increasing intake of this important fat-soluble vitamin can help reduce the risk of fractures.

Research from the University of Toronto shows that vitamin K1 supplements halve the risk of fractures.

Another study by the Center for Human Nutrition Research demonstrated that a low intake of vitamin K foods was associated with decreased bone mineral density in women. For this reason, many women at risk of osteoporosis often take vitamin K supplements to meet their body’s needs. Other natural treatments for osteoporosis include:

  • Exercise several times per week;
  • Daily sun exposure;
  • Eat plenty of foods rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.

Make sure the blood clotting mechanism goes well

Perhaps the most prominent function of vitamin K is to promote blood clot formation.

Blood clotting is an important process that helps stop bleeding from trauma. One of the first warning signs of vitamin K deficiency is bleeding gums or nose along with bruises. Therefore, people taking blood thinners such as coumadin are advised to control their vitamin K intake.

Coumadin works against vitamin K, which helps slow blood clotting. Significantly increasing or decreasing daily intake can interfere with and reduce the effects of these medications.

Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting

Vitamin K is involved in blood clotting

Promotes heart health

Besides ensuring blood clotting, vitamin K can also improve your heart function.

In a 2009 study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition with 388 participants: vitamin K1 was found to slow coronary artery calcification in older adults. Other studies have also confirmed the beneficial effects of vitamin K1 on blood vessels. Coronary calcification is a strong predictor of cardiovascular disease. Increasing your vitamin K food intake can help stop its progression.

Improve insulin sensitivity

Insulin is the hormone responsible for transporting sugar from the blood to the tissues. When you have a diet high in sugar and carbs, your body tries to produce more and more insulin. Unfortunately, maintaining high insulin levels can lead to a condition called insulin resistance. This condition reduces its effectiveness and leads to high blood sugar.

Reducing your vitamin K intake can help reduce insulin sensitivity to maintain normal blood sugar levels. One study found that 36 months of vitamin K supplementation reduced the progression of insulin resistance in older men.

In addition to including vitamin K foods in your diet, increasing physical activity, controlling carb intake, and eating foods rich in protein and fiber can also help stabilize blood sugar and prevent insulin resistance.

Enhance brain function

Vitamin K plays an important role in the nervous system and is also thought to support brain function. It is involved in the metabolism of sphingolipids. It’s a group of compounds found in brain cell membranes that help control motor and cognitive behavior.

It also has anti-inflammatory properties and helps protect the brain against oxidative stress caused by free radicals. Oxidative stress can damage cells. It can even lead to the development of conditions like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

The difference between K1 and K2 in the body

The main function of all types of vitamin K is to activate proteins that play an important role in blood clotting, heart health, and bone health. However, there are differences in the absorption and transport to body tissues of vitamins K1 and K2. They can have different effects on your health.

Vitamins K1 and K2

The difference between vitamin K1 and vitamin K2

In general, vitamin K1 found in plants is poorly absorbed by the body. One study estimates that less than 10% of the K1 found in plants is actually absorbed. Little is known about vitamin K2 absorption. However, experts believe: because K2 is commonly found in foods containing fat, it may be better absorbed than K1. This is because vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin and is better absorbed when eaten with fat.

In addition, vitamin K2’s long side chain allows it to circulate in the bloodstream longer than K1. Vitamin K1 can stay in the blood for several hours. Some forms of K2 can stay in the blood for days. Some researchers believe that vitamin K2’s longer circulation time helps it be better utilized in tissues. Vitamin K1 is mainly transported to and used by the liver.

These differences are important to determine the different roles of vitamins K1 and K2 in the body.

Dosage of vitamin K supplements

Supplemental amounts may vary depending on your age and gender. Here are the vitamin K supplement requirements according to the National Institutes of Health:


  • 0 months 6 months: 2 micrograms/day;
  • 7 months 12 months: 2.5 micrograms/day.


  • 1-3 years old: 30 micrograms/day;
  • 4 – 8 years old: 55 micrograms/day;
  • 9-13 years old: 60 micrograms/day.

Teenagers and adults

  • 14 – 18 years old: 75 micrograms/day;
  • 19 years and older: 120 micrograms/day for men, 90 micrograms/day for women;
  • Pregnant and lactating women (under 19 years old): 75 micrograms/day;
  • Pregnant and lactating women (19-50 years old): 90 micrograms/day.

How to get enough vitamin K

The commonly recommended amount of vitamin K is based on vitamin K1. Vitamin K levels are 90 mcg/day for adult women. For adult men is 120 mcg/day

This can be easily achieved by adding a cup of greens or salad to meals. Furthermore, consuming a fat source like egg yolks or olive oil will help your body absorb vitamin K better.

Essential vitamin K is found mainly in green vegetables, fruits, fermented foods and animal products. So you can easily meet your needs through a healthy and balanced diet.

Foods rich in vitamin K

  • Spinach, vegetables, green onions, cabbage; broccoli
  • Beef liver, ground beef, chicken breast;
  • Kiwi, avocado, blackberries, blueberries, prunes, pomegranates;
  • Soft cheese
  • Kidney beans
  • Pine nuts, cashews

There are currently no recommendations for how much vitamin K2 you should eat. It’s best to try incorporating a variety of vitamin K2-rich foods into your diet.

foods rich in vitamin K

Foods rich in vitamin K

Foods rich in vitamin K2

  • Fermented Soybeans: This is a fermented food that is extremely high in vitamin K2. Some people don’t like the taste. But if it can be used, it can provide a large amount of K2 for the body.
  • Eat lots of eggs: Eggs are a good source of vitamin K2 that can be easily supplemented.
  • Certain cheeses: Fermented cheeses, such as Jarlsberg, Edam, Gouda, cheddar, and blue cheese. They contain vitamin K2 which is formed by the bacteria used in the manufacturing process.
  • Eat dark chicken: Darker parts of chicken, such as legs and thighs. They contain moderate amounts of vitamin K2 and are better absorbed than the K2 in chicken breast.

Vitamin K Supplement

Vitamin K tablets are available and are often combined with other vitamins and nutrients. Such as calcium, magnesium or vitamin D. It is also commonly found in most multivitamins.

Vitamin K supplements often use synthetic forms of vitamin K1 or vitamin K2. Studies show that these substances are well absorbed in the body. But MK-7, the synthetic form of vitamin K2, has a longer half-life and stays active in the body longer.

Some risks and side effects of vitamin K  supplements

Although vitamin K supplements are considered safe for most people. However, people who are pregnant and breastfeeding should avoid taking more than the recommended amount.

Also, if you have a history of stroke, cardiac arrest, or problems with blood clot formation, talk to your doctor before taking supplements.

If you are taking blood thinners, vitamin K supplements should not be taken. Vitamin K should be controlled in moderation. Warfarin and vitamin K can interact, reducing the effectiveness of the drug. Consult your doctor if you have any concerns about foods with vitamin K to avoid while taking warfarin.

Adverse symptoms of supplementation are uncommon but may include:

  • Decreased appetite;
  • Haggard;
  • Muscle stiffness;
  • Shortness of breath.

Stop use and tell your doctor immediately if you experience any symptoms.

Finally, remember that taking too much vitamin K can also be harmful. For best results, use the supplement only as directed to avoid adverse health effects.


Vitamin K is an important fat-soluble nutrient. It plays a central role in many aspects of health. There are two important vitamins: Vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. They are found in green vegetable products, animal products and fermented foods. Adding foods rich in vitamin K can make it easier to meet your needs.

Recommendations for daily vitamin K intake and dosage may vary by age and sex. Therefore, vitamin K supplements should also be cautious and follow the instructions of the doctor.

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