Skip to content

Vitamin K: role and benefits for the body

To be healthy, the body needs an adequate supply of vitamins. Among these we find in particular vitamin K, it is not the best known, but it nevertheless plays an essential role for the body. Focus on the benefits of vitamin K and the foods to eat to avoid deficiencies.


What is vitamin K used for?

Vitamin K is a vitamin that comes largely from food, but it is also synthesized by the bacteria of the intestinal flora. There are several types of vitamin K, the most important of which are vitamin K1 (also called phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (also called menaquinone). This vitamin plays an essential role in the blood clotting process. The “K” in its name comes from the German “Koagulationsvitamin”.

What are the benefits of vitamin K?

The role of vitamin K for blood clotting has been known for a long time, but this vitamin is also involved in the building bones and cells. She is too naturally anti-inflammatory and protects cardiovascular health. The recommended intake for an adult is about 1 μg (microgram) per day per kilogram. For pregnant or breastfeeding women, daily vitamin K requirements are increased. People on anticoagulant treatment taking medications also called anti-vitamin K must however control their consumption of foods rich in vitamin K so as not to reduce the effectiveness of their treatment.

What are the signs of vitamin K deficiency?

Vitamin K deficiency in adults is quite rare, as this vitamin is present in many leafy green vegetables. It is also made naturally by the bacteria present in the intestines. A deficiency can however be detected in the event of chronic bleeding: subcutaneous causing bruises or even in the nose, in the stomach, in the intestines or at the level of a wound. Stomach bleeding can sometimes cause you to vomit blood. Blood may also be found in the stool or urine.

the risk of vitamin K deficiency in infants may be more common, especially in breastfed babies. This is explained in particular by the fact that they are not yet able to synthesize this vitamin by themselves. In addition, breast milk contains only a small amount of vitamin K, unlike infant milks. To avoid the deficiency, newborns therefore usually receive an injection of vitamin K a few hours after birth. In case of vitamin K deficiency in the baby, some symptoms may appear such as bleeding. Life-threatening hemorrhage can also occur in or around the brain, but this is exceptional.

In which foods is vitamin K found?

Vitamin K is found in many everyday foods. The K1 form is particularly present in green leafy vegetables while the K2 form is found in foods of animal origin. To avoid deficiencies, it is therefore advisable to consume these foods rich in vitamin K:

  • spinach ;
  • broccoli;
  • dandelion ;
  • parsley;
  • the cabbage ;
  • Swiss chard;
  • the salad ;
  • asparagus;
  • rapeseed oil;
  • soybean oil;
  • beef liver.

For example, 100 g of cooked spinach represent an average of 400 µg of vitamin K.

What to do when you have too much vitamin K?

Excess vitamin K can also be a risk factor, especially for people on anticoagulant therapy. In infants fed infant formula, excess vitamin K may also occur, but very rarely. Symptoms may then appear such as anemia and jaundice that can cause brain damage. To avoid overdose when necessary, it is advisable to consume foods low in vitamin K such as cow’s milk, yoghurt, white bread, corn, potatoes, turnips, mushrooms or even cucumber. With the help of a professional, it is possible to establish a standard menu without vitamin K while respecting the needs of the body.

Vitamin K in infants, why?

At birth, babies have very small stores of vitamin K. Yet, vitamin K for a newborn is essential. It participates in normal blood clotting and also plays a role in cell growth and bone mineralization. Vitamin K deficiency in infants can therefore lead to internal bleeding called “haemorrhagic syndrome of the newborn”. These pathologies are quite rare, but can cause serious sequelae on the brain or even, even more rarely, lead to death. To avoid vitamin K deficiency in babies, supplementation is offered at birth and another around the third day of the infant’s life. Then, if breastfeeding, it is advisable to give newborns a weekly dose of vitamin K for the duration of exclusive breastfeeding. If the child is fed with infant milk, supplementation is not necessary since these milks have all the essential nutrients for baby’s growth.

Can vitamin K help fight Covid?

In the midst of the Covid-19 epidemic, several vitamins have been talked about, such as vitamin D, essential for the proper functioning of the immune system. This is also the case for vitamin K which, according to a Dutch study relayed by the British newspaper The Guardian, could in case of deficiency increase the risks of developing serious forms. For the sake of this study, patients admitted to the Canisius Wilhelmina Hospital in the city of Nijmegen were studied. The researchers then discovered that patients admitted to intensive care or who died of Covid-19 were deficient in vitamin K. The benefits of vitamin K for this type of infection would be explained by the fact that Covid-19 causes coagulation blood which degrades the elastic fibers of the lungs. However, vitamin K helps regulate blood clotting. But these results still require further work to be proven.

Source :

Read also:



Subscribe to the Top Santé Newsletter to receive the latest news for free