Vitamin K foods and why they’re essential
In two previous articles I discussed vitamin K benefits on the body. Specifically, recent evidence suggests that vitamin K aids bone health, especially important in the elderly and post-menopausal women. In addition, vitamin K also appears very beneficial for the heart, and may even help to lower ones risk for coronary heart disease and cardiovascular disorder. In this article I’ll highlight the foods high in vitamin K.
Foods high in vitamin K
Due to the nature of vitamin K, and more specifically vitamin K1, it appears as though it’s one of very few nutrients that may actually be absorbed better via supplementation that it is through food – it’s tightly bound up within the plant it’s contained in. That being said, food should still be the first port of call regarding nutrient intake, given the many other benefits that consumption of food has over taking a supplement. Vitamin K1 foods are typically dark, green, and leafy. These include:
Asparagus, Broccoli, Brussel’s sprouts, Chard, Collards, Kale, and Spinach [These are primary sources of Vitamin K1]
Small amounts of vitamin K2 can be found in fermented food, like cheese and yoghurt, as well as animal produce such as meat. In addition, the bulk of vitamin K2 in Japan is consumed through natto, a fermented soybean product. Natto’s a very potent source of vitamin K, and actually one of the reasons why people initially suspected vitamin K being beneficial for the heart; Japanese men who frequently consume natto have a lower risk of CHD and CVD. Vitamin K2, also known as menaquinones, are also produced by gut bacteria, in our intestine.
Although trying to obtain an optimal profile of vitamins and minerals through your diet should be your priority, supplementation can be effective in certain cases. For example, both vitamin D3 and Iron are common and effective supplements that promote ones health, where they may otherwise not be able to correct imbalances (without supplementation). In the case of elderly or post-menopausal women, vitamin K certainly appears worthy of consideration.
Vitamin K is typically found as vitamin K2 in pharmacy’s and supplement stores, and vitamin K1 is harder to source. The dosage generally found ranges from 50 to 100 micrograms (mcg) per tablet. Studies referenced in my two previous articles have used 180 mcg per day, with no sign of side effects. It’s thought that double or even triple times this value can be consumed safely. Unfortunately vitamin K2 is expensive, and can often be founding with a price of ~£20 for a pot of 50- 75 tablets.
Where possible, aim to consume foods with vitamin K at least once a day, most days of the weeks. A portion size, perhaps 100 – 250g in weight, of any of the green vegetables listed above provides a suitable serving size to accompany any breakfast, lunch or dinner.