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24Sep

NUTRIENTS A-Z: Vitamin K

Vitamin K plays a key role in blood clotting which prevents excessive bleeding. Unlike many other vitamins, vitamin K is not typically used as a dietary supplement.  It is actually a group of compounds.  The most important of these compounds appears to be vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is obtained from leafy greens and some other vegetables. Vitamin K2 is a group of compounds largely obtained from meats, cheeses, and eggs, as well as being synthesized by bacteria.

Vitamin K deficiencies are rare in adults, but they are very common in newborns.  A single injection of vitamin K for newborns is standard. Vitamin K is also used to counteract an overdose of the blood thinner, Coumadin.  While vitamin K deficiencies are uncommon, you may be at higher risk if you:

  • Crohn's or celiac disease because both affect absorption 
  • Take drugs that interfere with vitamin K absorption
  • Are severely malnourished
  • Drink alcohol heavily

Most people get enough vitamin K from their diets.  Adequate intakes are listed below:  

Group

Adequate Intake

Children 0-6 months

2 micrograms/day

Children 7-12 months

2.5 micrograms/day

Children 1-3

30 micrograms/day

Children 4-8

55 micrograms/day

Children 9-13

60 micrograms/day

Girls 14-18

75 micrograms/day

Women 19 and up

90 micrograms/day

Women, pregnant or breastfeeding (19-50)

90 micrograms/day

Women, pregnant or breastfeeding (under 19)

75 micrograms/day

Boys 14-18

75 micrograms/day

Men 19 and up

120 micrograms/day

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