Fact Checked By Lindsay Delk, RDN
August 17, 2021
Although you don’t hear as much about vitamin K, it’s still a vitally important nutrient.
Research estimates that up to 31% of Americans have a vitamin K deficiency or insufficiency (1).
Vitamin K is one of four fat-soluble vitamins, along with vitamins A, D, and E.
Two Types of Vitamin K
The two primary types of vitamin K are vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone).
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Benefits of Vitamin K2
Matrix-Gla protein (MGP) requires vitamin K and decreases the buildup of calcium in your blood and soft tissues.
One large study of men and women aged 55 years and older showed that people eating the highest amounts of vitamin K2 had a 57% lower risk of coronary heart disease death than those eating the lowest amounts of vitamin K2 (8).
Some studies show that people who eat more vitamin K have stronger bones and are less likely to break a hip (11).
Recent research found that people who ate the highest amount of vitamin K had a 22% less risk of broken bones than people who ate the lowest amount of vitamin K (12).
Vitamin K Deficiency and Insufficiency
While getting enough vitamin K in your diet isn’t difficult, certain situations can raise your risk of vitamin K deficiency or insufficiency.
Causes of deficiency
Signs or symptoms of deficiency
There are few signs or symptoms of vitamin K deficiency or insufficiency.
You usually won’t know if you have weak bones until you start breaking them.
And you won’t know if you have a buildup of calcium in your blood vessels until you have a heart attack or start having problems with your circulation.
One possible sign of a vitamin K deficiency is that your wounds won’t clot quickly and continue to bleed.
Another sign is that you bruise easily, which is actually bleeding under the skin.
Your doctor may order a prothrombin time (PT) test to check your body’s ability to clot blood.
Should You Take Vitamin K with Vitamin D
Many vitamins and other nutrients don’t work alone in your body and depend on each other.
Having a good intake of vitamin D and calcium can be dangerous if you don’t also get enough vitamin K.
Vitamin K helps get calcium into the bones.
If you are low in vitamin K, the calcium gets into your arteries instead of your bones, which contributes to heart disease. This leads to weak bones and hardened arteries.
If you and your doctor decide that you need to take a vitamin D supplement, make sure it also contains vitamin K2.
Ways to Get Vitamin K
Because vitamin K is fat-soluble, your supplement should be taken with a meal or snack that has some fat.
The fat in the food will help your body absorb the vitamin.
Supplements are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so make sure you are buying high-quality supplements from a reputable source.
Avoid buying supplements made outside of the U.S., which may not be regulated at all.
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