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What is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K collectively refers to a group of fat soluble vitamins which are required by our body in trace amounts as they largely influence blood clotting, bone health and the levels of calcium in our body.

Out of the collective group of vitamins, there are specifically 2 major forms of Vitamin K:

  • Vitamin K1:

This compound, also referred to as phylloquinone, is found in green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach, and other plant sources. It is the major form of vitamin K that is consumed through dietary sources by humans.

  • Vitamin K2:

This compound which is also known as menaquinone, is found in animal-based or fermented products such as different types of meats, cheese, eggs and is also synthesized in the human intestine by bacteria.

It must be noted that when vitamin K1 is consumed by the body, certain bacteria act upon it in the human intestine and convert it into vitamin K2. It is then absorbed by the intestine itself in the same form and stored in the fatty tissues and liver for use.

Hence, apart from their sources , the functions and role of both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2 are similar in nature.

Functions of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is essential for the production of certain proteins that are needed for blood clotting and the building of bones.

It helps in building Prothrombin, a vitamin K dependent protein that plays a major role in influencing bodily processes such as coagulation.

It also helps in building Osteocalcin which is another protein that helps build healthy bone tissue.

Health Benefits of Vitamin K

  • Coagulation:

Coagulation or the process of blood clotting as we know it is largely determined by the presence of vitamin K in the body. Vitamin K helps build proteins such as Prothrombin which influence the process of blood clotting. People, especially small infants, tend to bleed a lot if they are deficient in vitamin K.

  • Bone metabolism:

studies have shown that vitamin K does not only lead to a higher bone density in osteoporetic people, but also plays a crucial role in reducing fracture rates. This is because vitamin K is said to have a direct impact on increasing the level of bone formation markers. More research is being conducted in this regard to better understand the effect of vitamin K and bone health.

  • Cognitive health:

Early research suggests that vitamin K is detrimental for mental well being and sharpness. In one study, it was discovered that healthy individuals over the age of 70 years that had higher levels of vitamin K in their bloodstream fared better at recalling verbal episodic memory and it’s overall performance.

  • Minimising the risk of heart diseases and strokes:

There is emerging evidence supporting the claim that adequate supplementation with vitamin K also helps prevent the buildup of minerals in the arteries which could lead to high blood pressure, heart attack and even a stroke.

Vitamin K deficiency

Similar to most fat soluble vitamin deficiencies, Vitamin K deficiencies are rare since the micronutrient is available in abundance and the recommended daily intake can be easily met through dietary food sources. Also, since our body is adept at manufacturing vitamin k on it’s own, there is little chance that one must develop a vitamin K deficiency. However, since the vitamin is fat-soluble, people who have digestive disorders or face trouble digesting fat properly might be prone to developing a vitamin K deficiency. Following are some symptoms that might indicate a vitamin K deficiency:


  • Incessant bleeding and wounds which do not clot over a long period of time

  • Visible blood clots beneath nails

  • Dark black stools which seem to contain traces of blood

  • Osteoporosis or brittle bones

While vitamin K deficiency is rare in adults, it is extremely common in infants. Most children are deficient in vitamin K and are supplemented with vitamin K as it could lead to fatal complications and internal bleeding if left untreated.

Since a major portion of vitamin K is produced by the body itself, external medications which change the microbial environment of your gut such as antibiotics could lead to a decreased production of this vitamin leading to a deficiency.
People who are prescribed anticoagulants and blood thinners are also susceptible to develop a deficiency and must tread with care.

If you show symptoms of deficiency, it is best to consult your doctor to get yourself diagnosed and choose the right supplement to treat your deficiency.

Sources of Vitamin K

As per the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA), 120 micrograms a day of Vitamin K and 90 micrograms a day of vitamin K are adequate for men and women respectively.. Vitamin K is found readily available in various plant and animal sources. Some essential sources for vitamin K include:-

Food Source

Percent of daily value

Micrograms (Mcg) per serving

Fermented soybeans/Natto ( 3 ounces)


850 Mcg

Collards (½ cup)


530 Mcg

Spinach (1 cup)


145 Mcg

Kale (1 cup)


113 Mcg

Broccoli (½ cup)


110 Mcg

Carrot juice (¾ cup)


28 Mcg

Soybean oil ( 1 tablespoon)


25 Mcg

Chicken breast ( 3 ounces)


13 Mcg

Unlike other fat-soluble vitamins which can become toxic if consumed in excess, vitamin K is a micronutrient that is broken down very quickly and excreted easily. Because of this, it rarely reaches toxic levels in the body even with high intakes.


Vitamin K is essential for the functioning of our human body as it is responsible for building certain proteins that play a detrimental role in bodily processes such as clotting and bone building. Research suggests that supplementation with vitamin K can help prevent cardiovascular diseases, promote cognitive health and build healthy bones in those suffering from osteoporosis. vitamin K is available in abundance throughout most dietary sources and is produced by the body on it’s own also, hence supplementation for healthy individuals is unnecessary. However, in people suffering from fat malabsorption and poor intestinal health, it is possible to develop a deficiency in the vitamin and hence additional supplementation is required to meet the requisite daily intake. As you ensure the right amount of vitamins are included in your diet, health emergencies can strike anytime. Hence, be prepared with a Health Insurance plan.

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