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10 foods packed with vitamin K and tasty ways to add them to your diet

Adam Barnes,Kailey Proctor   

10 foods packed with vitamin K and tasty ways to add them to your diet
  • Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health and may lower your risk of heart disease.
  • Vitamin K deficiency is uncommon, as you can get enough of this vitamin by eating a balanced diet.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that helps make proteins that control blood clotting. It also plays an important role in bone health and may reduce your risk of heart disease.

Vitamin K actually refers to a group of compounds with a similar chemical structure — the important ones for your health include:

  • K1 (phylloquinone), which you can get mainly from leafy greens
  • K2 (menaquinone), contained in some animal products and fermented foods and produced in the gut in small amounts.

Some research suggests vitamin K2 may be better at reducing bone fractures and lowering heart disease risks than K1, but more clear research is needed, says Andrea McGrew, a nutritionist at Babylon.

So, if you want to increase the amount of vitamin K you get from the foods you eat, your best bet is to focus on foods that contain both types.

Note: The recommended daily intake of vitamin K for adults is 120 micrograms (mcg) for men and 90 mcg for women.

Read on for 10 foods rich in vitamin K and a few tips for adding them to your meals.

1. Leafy greens

Leafy greens of almost any type are your best option for getting high amounts of vitamin K.

In fact, just one serving of collards (530 mcg), turnip greens (426 mcg), or spinach (145 mcg) will more than meet your daily requirements.

Other leafy greens and their vitamin K content include:

  • Kale, which has 390 mcg per 100 grams (g)
  • Mustard and Japanese mustard (mizuna) greens, which have 258 mcg of vitamin K per 100g
  • Bok choy, which has 45.5 mcg per 100g
  • Arugula, which has 109 mcg per 100g
  • Red and green leaf lettuce, which have 123-126 mcg per 100 g

In addition to vitamin K, leafy greens help boost your immune system, provide antioxidants that may help lower cancer risk, and are rich in fiber and other vitamins and minerals.

Tired of salads? McGrew says you can also incorporate more leafy greens into your diet by blending a handful of raw spinach in a smoothie, or roasting raw kale leaves, stems removed, in the oven for crispy kale chips.

Keep in mind, too, that Vitamin K is fat soluble, or better absorbed when eaten with fat — so don't be afraid to add a little olive oil to your veggies, or top your salad with avocado.

2. Soybeans

Soybean oil and products made with soybeans, like tofu, are good sources of vitamin K:

  • Half a cup of roasted soybeans contains 43 mcg vitamin K.
  • One tablespoon of soybean oil contains 23 mcg vitamin K.
  • Tofu has about 12 mcg vitamin K per serving.

Tofu, which is low in fat and high in protein, also makes a great addition to meals as a meat alternative. It has little flavor on its own, so it takes on the flavor of your preferred seasoning or sauce.

"Edamame, which are immature soybeans, are packed with vitamin K and make for a wonderful afternoon snack. You can even make hummus using shelled edamame," McGrew says.

3. Broccoli and Brussels sprouts

These two cruciferous vegetables contain plenty of vitamin K — in fact, most cruciferous vegetables, which also includes many leafy greens, have significant amounts of vitamin K:

  • A half cup of broccoli contains 110 mcg of vitamin K.
  • A half cup of brussels sprouts contains 78 mcg of vitamin K.

Additionally, cruciferous vegetables contain phytonutrients. These compounds have a wide range of health benefits, including reducing inflammation and supporting the immune system. They may also offer some protection against certain types of cancers, including breast cancer.

"A quick and easy way to prepare vegetables that taste amazing is to roast them. Roasting vegetables caramelizes the natural sugars in vegetables and brings out a sweet, nutty, toasty flavor that many people find much more palatable," McGrew says.

4. Pine nuts

One ounce of pine nuts contains 15 mcg of vitamin K, but vitamin K content isn't the only reason to eat pine nuts.

"Pine nuts are rich sources of iron, protein, and magnesium, among other nutrients. Their antioxidant content can help keep skin looking healthy and young," says Kristin Gillespie, a nutritionist and contributor and advisor at Exercise With Style.

Not sure how to eat them? Try:

  • Adding them to a salad
  • Toasting them and garnishing your pasta
  • Using them as an ingredient in pesto

5. Pumpkin

Pumpkin is a great way to get more Vitamin K — a half cup of canned pumpkin has 20 mcg, and one ounce of pumpkin seeds has 15 mcg.

In addition to being high in Vitamin K, pumpkin offers other health benefits:

  • It's high in vitamin A, which can help your eyesight.
  • It's high in potassium, which can support heart health.
  • It's high in beta carotene, which can improve skin health.

"Pumpkin can be incorporated into soups, curries, or sauces. It can also be easily incorporated into smoothies, protein shakes, or baked goods," Gillespie says.

6. Natto

Natto is a Japanese dietary staple made from fermented soybeans.

"While it may be an acquired taste, this superfood contains around 260% of your daily value of vitamin K in just one ounce, not to mention it is rich in protein and probiotics," McGrew says.

You can find natto at Asian supermarkets, or if you're feeling ambitious, you can try to make it at home.

A common way to eat it is to mix natto with rice and condiments like soy sauce, sesame oil, or japanese mustard. You can also add it to a soup or salad.

7. Blueberries

Blueberries contain 29 mcg of vitamin K per serving.

According to Gillespie, they can also:

  • Reduce inflammation
  • Enhance your body's ability to fight infection
  • Prevent chronic illnesses like heart disease, age-related cognitive decline, and certain types of cancer

Try eating blueberries by themselves, adding them to salads or smoothies, or topping your favorite cereal or yogurt with them.

8. Asparagus

One cup of asparagus contains 144 mcg — more than enough of your daily vitamin K recommendation.

"Asparagus is low in calories but rich in nutrients — it's a great source of fiber, folate, vitamins A and C, and antioxidants. Because of its rich nutrient profile, it's great for maintaining overall health and preventing disease," Gillespie says

One of the tastiest ways to eat asparagus? The simple but reliable preparation of roasting in the oven. You can also grill asparagus, or toss tender spears with some olive oil and your favorite pasta.

9. Plantains

Plantains grow in tropical areas around the world. If you aren't familiar with this plant, plantains look very much like a banana but are cooked and eaten like a starchy vegetable.

Plantains are commonly considered a superfood because they have high nutritional value and a positive effect on health, says Gillespie. They also offer 13 mcg of vitamin K per serving.

You can cook plantains by frying them. You can also air fry or dry roast them and eat them as chips.

10. Kelp

Kelp, also called kombu, is an edible seaweed that contains 66 mcg of vitamin K per serving. Kelp is also high in iodine, an important component of thyroid health.

Kelp makes a great addition to seafood dishes, miso soup, or your favorite ramen dish. You can even try it in a smoothie.

Signs of a vitamin K deficiency

A vitamin K deficiency is uncommon — most people get enough vitamin K from eating a balanced diet, McGrew says.

That said, if your diet lacks variety and consists mainly of processed foods, you may need to adjust your diet or take vitamin K supplements to get the amount you need, McGrew says.

Though vitamin K deficiency is uncommon in healthy people, a few specific factors can put you at risk for deficiency by affecting your body's ability to absorb vitamin K, including:

If you develop a vitamin K deficiency, you may eventually develop issues with your blood and bones, such as:

Because vitamin K has such a strong impact on blood clotting, you'll need to carefully monitor your vitamin K intake if you take blood thinners. Your daily consumption of vitamin K needs to stay consistent when taking these medications — if the amount fluctuates, it can affect how blood thinners work.

Insider's takeaway

Vitamin K plays an important role in proper blood clotting. It also helps keep your bones strong and can decrease your risk of heart disease.

This essential vitamin is abundant in leafy greens, along with a variety of other vegetables, soy, and some animal products. Eating a varied diet can help you get enough vitamin K for optimal health.