Vitamin K: Its Uses, Deficiency, Dosage & Food Sources

by Ella

Vitamin K, often overshadowed by its more well-known counterparts, plays a crucial role in various physiological processes within the body. From blood clotting to bone health, this fat-soluble vitamin is indispensable for maintaining overall well-being. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the diverse uses of vitamin K, delve into the repercussions of deficiency, discuss appropriate dosage, and highlight the abundance of this essential nutrient in various food sources.

Understanding the Role of Vitamin K:

Vitamin K, discovered in the early 20th century, comes in two main forms: K1 (phylloquinone) and K2 (menaquinone). The primary function of vitamin K is to facilitate blood clotting by aiding in the synthesis of proteins essential for the coagulation process. Additionally, vitamin K plays a vital role in bone metabolism, helping regulate calcium and promote bone mineralization. Beyond these fundamental functions, emerging research suggests that vitamin K may also have implications for cardiovascular health and inflammation regulation.


Uses of Vitamin K:

Blood Clotting and Coagulation:


The most well-established role of vitamin K is its involvement in blood clotting. Several proteins involved in the coagulation cascade, such as prothrombin and factors VII, IX, and X, require vitamin K for their synthesis. Deficiencies in vitamin K can lead to impaired blood clotting, potentially resulting in excessive bleeding and hemorrhage.


Bone Health and Calcium Regulation:


Vitamin K contributes to bone health by regulating calcium within the bones and preventing its excessive accumulation in soft tissues. This process helps maintain bone density and reduce the risk of fractures. Adequate vitamin K levels are associated with improved bone mineralization and a lower risk of osteoporosis.

Cardiovascular Health:

Emerging research suggests a potential link between vitamin K and cardiovascular health. Vitamin K is involved in the regulation of vascular calcification, a process associated with atherosclerosis. Some studies indicate that adequate vitamin K levels may help inhibit the deposition of calcium in blood vessels, thereby supporting cardiovascular health.

Anti-Inflammatory Properties:

Vitamin K has been recognized for its anti-inflammatory properties, with studies suggesting its role in modulating inflammatory markers. While the exact mechanisms are still under investigation, these findings point towards potential benefits in managing inflammatory conditions.

Vitamin K Deficiency:

Vitamin K deficiency is relatively rare but can have serious consequences when it occurs. Certain factors may contribute to a deficiency, including malabsorption issues, prolonged use of antibiotics, and specific medical conditions. The symptoms of vitamin K deficiency include:

Excessive Bleeding:

A primary consequence of vitamin K deficiency is impaired blood clotting, leading to excessive bleeding. This can manifest as easy bruising, prolonged bleeding from wounds, or, in severe cases, internal bleeding.

Increased Risk of Fractures:

Insufficient vitamin K levels may contribute to reduced bone mineralization, increasing the risk of fractures and osteoporosis. Adequate vitamin K is essential for maintaining optimal bone density.

Calcification of Blood Vessels:

Vitamin K deficiency may be associated with the inappropriate calcification of blood vessels, a factor linked to cardiovascular issues. This underscores the importance of vitamin K in maintaining vascular health.

Impaired Tooth and Bone Development in Infants:

Newborns are particularly vulnerable to vitamin K deficiency, as the vitamin does not pass easily through the placenta. This can result in a rare but severe condition known as vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), impacting a newborn’s ability to form blood clots.

Dosage Recommendations:

The recommended daily intake of vitamin K varies based on age, gender, and life stage. The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) is as follows:


0-6 months: 2.0 micrograms (mcg) per day

7-12 months: 2.5 mcg per day


1-3 years: 30 mcg per day

4-8 years: 55 mcg per day

9-13 years: 60 mcg per day

Adolescents and Adults:

Males 14-18 years: 75 mcg per day

Females 14-18 years: 75 mcg per day

Males 19 years and older: 120 mcg per day

Females 19 years and older: 90 mcg per day

It’s important to note that individual requirements may vary, and certain conditions, such as pregnancy or lactation, may necessitate higher vitamin K intake. Consultation with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian can provide personalized guidance based on specific health needs.

Food Sources of Vitamin K:

Leafy Green Vegetables:

Leafy greens are rich sources of vitamin K1. Spinach, kale, broccoli, and Swiss chard are excellent options to incorporate into a vitamin K-rich diet.

Brassica Vegetables:

Vegetables from the Brassica family, such as Brussels sprouts, cabbage, and cauliflower, provide substantial amounts of vitamin K1.


Fresh herbs like parsley, basil, and cilantro are not only flavorful additions to meals but also contribute to vitamin K intake.

Green Tea:

Green tea contains vitamin K1, adding a healthful element to your beverage choices.

Vegetable Oils:

Certain vegetable oils, including soybean oil and canola oil, contain vitamin K1. Using these oils in cooking can contribute to vitamin K intake.

Animal-Based Sources (Vitamin K2):

Vitamin K2, found in animal products and fermented foods, is essential for optimal health. Sources include liver, meat, eggs, and fermented foods like natto and cheese.

Fortified Foods:

Some food products, such as certain cereals and plant-based milk alternatives, are fortified with vitamin K, providing an additional source for individuals with specific dietary preferences.


Vitamin K, often overlooked in discussions about nutrition, plays a vital role in various physiological processes crucial for overall health. From its involvement in blood clotting to its impact on bone health and potential cardiovascular benefits, the significance of vitamin K cannot be overstated. Understanding the potential consequences of deficiency, appropriate dosage guidelines, and incorporating vitamin K-rich foods into one’s diet are essential steps toward maintaining optimal health.

As with any aspect of nutrition, individual needs may vary, and consulting with healthcare professionals or registered dietitians can provide personalized recommendations based on specific health goals and conditions. By embracing a well-rounded and nutrient-dense diet, individuals can ensure they receive adequate vitamin K to support their overall well-being.



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