It’s no secret that your body needs vitamin K, but how do you go about getting it from vegetarian sources? As it turns out, there’s some great news for you. Vegetables are actually among some of the richest sources of the clotting vitamin that your body needs to prevent excessive bleeding and maintain bone health. Just be prepared to eat your greens!
Your Body Needs 90–120 mcg Of Vitamin K For Normal Blood Clotting And Bone Health
Also called the clotting vitamin, vitamin K is needed to prevent you from bleeding too much when you get a cut or scrape or have surgery. Clotting factor prothrombin is a protein that’s dependent on vitamin K and plays a direct role in blood clotting. Besides this, vitamin K helps in keeping up bone health in seniors.1 While there aren’t any recommended daily intake levels established for vitamin K, the next best estimate, adequate intake (AI) levels, are suggested for men and women at 120 mcg and 90 mcg per day respectively.2
Vitamin K is available in the human diet in two types: K1 and K2. Vegetarian sources of vitamin K contain only K1.
When it comes to food labeling and nutrient content, the vitamin K nutrient richness of a food is measured by comparing it to a daily value (DV), set by the United States Food and Drug Administration at 120 mcg for all adults. The level is pegged at 90 mcg for pregnant/lactating women.3 If a food has 20% DV or more of a nutrient, it is considered a rich source of that nutrient. As you’ll see in the list that follows, you have plenty of choices when it comes to vegetables that meet and exceed this number.
Half a cup of cooked kale: 531 mcg (442.5% DV) of vitamin K
Vitamin K is found in abundance in green leafy vegetables like kale. In fact, just half a cup of boiled kale contains an impressive 531 mcg of vitamin K – the equivalent of 442.5% DV.4 If you enjoy kale’s slightly bitter undertone, have them in salads. If not, try roasting kale leaves in the oven at a low temperature for a few hours to dehydrate them into the most crunchy and delicious kale chips. Or use it in a frittata with sausages and you may even begin to love it! Even a simple olive oil and garlic laced stir-fry might be an eye-opener. Kale also lends itself well to pesto sauce. So go ahead and experiment a little!
Half a cup of cooked spinach: 444.25 mcg (370% DV) of vitamin K
Evergreen spinach is a staple at even the smallest supermarket so you won’t have much trouble getting your hands on some. It is up to you whether you want to eat fresh tender leaves in a salad or use the spinach in a soup, stir-fry, or pasta. Whatever you decide, you’ll be getting lots of nutrition from it – each half cup of the boiled leaves contains 444.25 mcg of vitamin K, meeting 370% DV.5
3. Collard Greens, Beet Greens, And Swiss Chard
- Half a cup of cooked collards: 386.25 mcg (322% DV) of vitamin K
- Half a cup of cooked beet greens: 348.5 mcg (290.4% DV) of vitamin K
- Half a cup of cooked Swiss chard: 286.4 mcg (238.7% DV) of vitamin K
- Half a cup of cooked turnip greens: 264.65 mcg (221% DV) of vitamin K
If you’re open to exploring other greens or are just tired of the familiar flavors of spinach, how about trying collard greens, beet greens, or perhaps some Swiss chard or turnip greens? They’re all very rich sources of vitamin K, clocking in at over 200% DV and going up to 322% DV of the nutrient. Piqued your interest? Collards have 386.25 mcg of vitamin K (322% DV), beet greens have 348.5 mcg of vitamin K (290.4% DV), Swiss chard has 286.4 mcg (238.7% DV), and turnip greens have 264.65 mcg (221% DV) per half cup of boiled greens.6 7 8 9
The best part is you can use them pretty much as you would your other favorite green leafy vegetables. Those with a palate for the unusual will love their salads or even smoothies with the leaves. if you are one of those approaching these unfamiliar greens with some trepidation, play safe and use them in stir-fries. You could also wilt them and use in pasta sauces or pair with robust flavors like cheese, mushrooms, garlic, or paprika.
Half a cup of scallions: 103.5 mcg (86.3% DV) of vitamin K
If you like onions, you may also find you have a palate for scallions, the young delicious tasting spring onion – green leafy stalks, bulbs, and all! They liven up Asian soups, broths, noodles, and rice, not to mention how delicious they can be in savory scallion pancakes. You may also find scallions work so well with some all-American meals. For instance, your creamy or yogurty dip can do with a hit of color from scallions and so can your pizza! The Italians know what to do with scallions too – whether it is in pasta or cipollate con pancetta (bacon-wrapped scallions, for the uninitiated). Half a cup of scallions deliver 103.5 mcg of vitamin K – that’s 86.3% DV.10
5. Brussels Sprouts
Half a cup of cooked Brussels sprouts: 109.4 mcg (91.2% DV) of vitamin K
Half a cup of cooked Brussels sprouts has about 109.4 mcg of vitamin K, getting you to a sizeable 91.2% DV.11 Don’t write off this delicious vegetable as an also-ran at the dinner table. They can be lip-smackingly delicious and oh-so-moreish roasted, chargrilled, or caramelized in a pan. Season lightly or add some crispy bacon bits to make them even better! They also taste delicious in a slaw, gratins, and Asian-style stir-fry recipes with steak, soy sauce, or kung pao sauce.
Half a cup of cooked broccoli: 110 mcg (91.7% DV) of vitamin K
While on brassica or cruciferous vegetables, you may want to have broccoli for that vitamin K boost. Half a cup of broccoli has 110 mcg of vitamin K or 91.7% DV.12 Enjoy yours roasted, plain, or lightly dressed in vinaigrettes. Or add broccoli to a beef and sesame stir-fry or Buddha bowl. Of course, there’s always that evergreen pairing with cheese. You could have it in a hearty cheese and broccoli soup or cooked with a golden cheesy crumb crust – it is hard to go wrong with this combination!
Half a cup of cooked cabbage: 81.5 mcg (67.9% DV) of cabbage
Cabbage, another cruciferous vegetable like broccoli and Brussels sprouts, is rich in vitamin K. Half a cup of cooked cabbage contains 81.5 mcg (67.9% DV) of the nutrient.13 Make some sauteed cabbage to go with your protein or a street-style tossed noodle recipe with lots of cabbage. Roast off wedges of cabbage with some garlic in the oven for something hassle-free and deliciously different. Or experiment with an Indian-style turmeric-infused cabbage and pea stir-fry. Even raw cabbage is a good source of the vitamin. A cup of the chopped raw vegetable contains 67.6 mcg or 56.3% DV of vitamin K.14 Use raw cabbage to mix up a tasty slaw, a lemony salad, or temper it Indian style. You could also make up a batch of kimchi or fermented cabbage and you won’t ever crave another condiment!
Half a cup of the cooked asparagus: 45.5 mcg (37.9% DV) of vitamin K
Like asparagus? It is also a great source of vitamin K, though it doesn’t contain as much as the green leafy vegetables. For every half cup of the cooked chopped asparagus, you get 45.5 mcg of vitamin K or 37.9% DV.15 Asparagus shines on its own whether simply sauteed with some olive oil and salt and pepper, roasted in the oven, or blanched and served with a buttery lemon sauce. You can even make a little go a long way by baking them au gratin or sprinkling over some cheese and breadcrumbs on the plain spears before toasting off in the oven. Asparagus also goes well with pasta both in a sauce or as a filling for some delish ravioli.
Half a cup of celery: 28.35 mcg (23.6% DV) of vitamin K
Celery can do more than anoint your Bloody Mary cocktail! If you enjoy its unique flavor, go ahead and shave it into your salads or toss it diced up into meat and vegetable recipes. Or simply braise in butter for a delightful side. You could even pickle some and use it on your pizzas or in your pasta. Or add it to a soup for some celery freshness. Half a cup of the stalks contains 28.35 mcg of vitamin K, meeting 23.6% DV.16 Make a Thai style celery salad peppered with crunchy peanuts or indulge in a creamy celery soup to whet your appetite. Celery also sits well alongside seafood like salmon or a lightly grilled or poached chicken main.
- Half a cup of cooked carrots: 10.7 mcg (8.9% DV)
- Three-quarter cup of carrot juice: 28 mcg (23.3% DV) of vitamin K
Every half-cup serving of boiled carrots cooked from raw contains 10.7 mcg of the vitamin, which is 8.9% DV.17 You can use them generously in your soups and meaty or root vegetable stews for a pop of color and gentle sweetness. Or roast some off in the oven for a delicious side to a meal. Where carrots really come into their own, though, is if you drink them as juice, allowing you to consume more nutrients concentrated into a glass. A three-quarter cup serving contains 28 mcg of vitamin K, which amounts to 23.3% DV.18
So there you have it! Ten kinds of vegetables that can promise to give you most of the vitamin K you need to consume on a daily basis. As you’ve seen, they’re also versatile veggies, so whether you are looking for light salads, refreshing fresh juices, or warming and hearty meals, these vitamin K-rich foods can make a great building block or addition to any recipe.
|↑1||Vitamin K. U.S. National Library of Medicine.|
|↑2, ↑12, ↑18||Vitamin K. Office of Dietary Supplements.|
|↑3||Labeling Daily Values. National Institutes of Health.|
|↑4||Kale, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt . United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑5||Spinach, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑6||Collards, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt.United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑7||Beet greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑8||Chard, swiss, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑9||Turnip greens, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑10||Onions, spring or scallions (includes tops and bulb), raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑11||Brussels sprouts, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑13||Cabbage, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑14||Cabbage, raw. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑15||Asparagus, cooked, boiled, drained. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑16||Celery, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|
|↑17||Carrots, cooked, boiled, drained, without salt. United States Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service.|