If you want to get your Vitamin K from foods (and you should!), here are your best options for food sources of Vitamin K.
This includes both Vitamin K1 and K2.
Vitamin K1 is important for proper blood clotting.
Vitamin K2 is important for bone, heart, and brain health.
We focus on K2 instead of K1 because K1 is very easy to get. Vitamin K1 is even found in French fries and nachos, but K2-rich foods are much harder to find. This is because K2 is found in fatty organ meats and fermented foods, both of which are no longer popular on our plates.
The very best sources of Vitamin K2:
- Goose liver
- Fermented soybeans (Natto)
(Most people make the same expression you just made.)
Goose liver (also known as Foie Gras) is banned in California and some other places. It is popular in some parts of Europe, but it's an acquired taste.
Natto (fermented soybeans) is revolting to most Americans. It smells like dirty socks and feels gooey and slippery in your mouth. Not to mention the stringy…oh, you get the idea. It’s most certainly an acquired taste.
Next best dietary sources of Vitamin K
Thankfully, you can eat these more palatable foods as your Vitamin K2 source:
- Chicken dark meat (leg and thigh)
- European hard cheeses (Muenster and Jarlsberg are the highest)
- Egg yolk from pastured chicken
Daily Target Amount of Vitamin K2 (micrograms or mcg)
|For healthy adults: 100 to 200 micrograms (mcg) daily from food or supplements.|
Persons taking any medications (especially anticoagulants like Warfarin or Coumadin) should talk to their doctor before using Vitamin K2 supplements or consuming foods rich in Vitamin K.
There is no official RDA or Daily Value established for Vitamin K2. However, most experts recommend between 100 and 200 mcg per day. The most compelling studies used 180 mcg of K2. It's not easy to consume that much without planning.
To reach 100 mcg of K2, you’ll need a combination of 6 oz of chicken dark meat, along with a couple of eggs, and some European hard cheese.
Your doctor may have advised you against that much animal products.
Vitamin K2 in chicken
- Even with chicken, most Americans prefer white breast meat over fattier thigh and drumstick.
- Chicken dark meat has 6X more Vitamin K2 than chicken breast meat, while chicken hearts have almost 15X more Vitamin K2 than breast meat.
- The main reason why chicken dark meat is high in Vitamin K is that chicken feed is boosted with a synthetic form of K called Menadione. Chickens then convert it to Vitamin K2, which is beneficial to us. So, the Vitamin K in chicken is artificially boosted.
- You need 8-10 oz of chicken dark meat daily to get an optimal dose of Vitamin K2. This is more chicken than most people care to eat, so you’ll need other sources of K2 in your diet.
Vitamin K2 in cheese
- Hard cheeses typically have more Vitamin K2 than soft cheeses.
- Popular cheeses like ‘Kraft slices,’ mozzarella, cheddar, and parmesan have very little Vitamin K2. Even swiss cheese is relatively weak on K2.
- Where the cheese is made and how long the cheese was fermented makes a big difference. Gouda made in Netherlands is high in K2 whereas Gouda made in USA is very low.
- You need 6-8 oz of hard cheeses daily to give you an optimal dose of Vitamin K2.
- Kid tip: referring to Muenster cheese as 'Monster cheese' has been an effective strategy to get young kids to eat it. European Muenster is rich in MK-9 form of Vitamin K2, which is usually missing in supplements, but believe to improve bone strength.
Vitamin K2 in eggs
- The source of eggs makes a big difference.
- Egg whites contain very little Vitamin K2. It’s mostly in the yolk. Yolks contain 30X more Vitamin K2 than egg white – something to keep in mind when you order that egg white omelet.
- Eggs from pastured chicken contain about 20% more Vitamin K2 than grain-fed chickens in cages.
- You need 3 to 4 egg yolks daily from pasture-raised chicken to give you close to optimal amount of Vitamin K2 needed daily. This is more than most people typically consume.
Vegetarian Source of Vitamin K2
What if you’re a vegetarian or vegan?
Since Vitamin K2 is found mostly in meats, this makes getting enough K2 difficult.
Your Vegan K2 options:
- Sauerkraut. Other than sauerkraut, there are few readily available vegetable or vegan foods that are rich in Vitamin K2.
- Natto is available in Japan and may be available in some specialty Japanese grocery stores.
- Miso has trace amounts, but is not a potent source of K2 to rely on.
If you’re a vegan or vegetarian, this places extra burden on you to get sufficient K2. Consider taking a Vitamin K2 supplement.
Fruits, nuts, legumes, and grains do not contain Vitamin K2. Leafy green veggies are a good source of Vitamin K1, which is found even in many fast foods. Since Vitamin K1 is readily available and is recycled by the body, there is little reason to supplement with Vitamin K1.
List of Foods (surprisingly) low in Vitamin K2
It may seem surprising, but the following foods are all virtually free of Vitamin K2:
- Lean meats
- Whole grains
Since these are ‘healthy foods’ most frequently recommended by dietitians and nutritionists for improving health, it is critical to remember that K2 is notably absent. If you follow a diet that is limited to the foods listed above, you may be deficient in Vitamin K2.
|Foods (100g or about 3.5 oz)||Vitamin K2 (micrograms)|
|Natto (fermented soybean)||939|
|Goose liver pate||370|
|Ribs with bone||104|
|Muenster cheese (French)||80|
|Pork chop with bone||75|
|Pork chop boneless||68|
|Camembert cheese (French)||68|
|Gouda cheese (Dutch)||65|
|Edam cheese (Dutch)||65|
|Egg yolk (Japan)||64|
|Chicken dark meat||60|
|Gamalost cheese (Norwegian)||54|
|Stilton cheese (British)||49|
|Milber cheese (Dutch)||45|
|Emmental cheese (Swiss)||43|
|Norvegia cheese (Norwegian)||41|
|Slankie cheese (Dutch)||38|
|Roquefort cheese (French)||38|
|Pastured Egg yolk (US)||37|
|Organic Egg yolk||33|
|Raclette cheese (Swiss)||32|
|Regular Egg yolk||31|
|Cheddar cheese (British)||23|
|Land O Lakes butter||21|
|Cod liver oil||19|
|Gorgonzola cheese (Italian)||15|
|Kerry Gold butter||14|
|Brie cheese (French)||12|
|Feta cheese (Greek)||11|
|Sharp Cheddar cheese||10|
|Whole fried egg||9|
|Pecorino cheese (Italian)||9|
|Kraft sliced cheese||6|
|Mozzarella cheese (Italian)||6|
|Gruyere cheese (Swiss)||6|
|Parmesan cheese (Italian)||0.3|
The best sources of Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone)
The best sources of Vitamin K1 are leafy green vegetables. This is the form of Vitamin K found in common multivitamins.
Vitamin K2 is usually missing from multivitamins. Government guidelines still do not recognize the different roles of these two distinct Vitamins, but deficiency of K1 seems to be rare, while deficiency of Vitamin K2 may be widespread.
|Foods (100 grams or about 3.4 oz)||Vitamin K1 (micrograms)|
Measurement of Multiple Vitamin K Forms in Processed and Fresh-Cut Pork Products in the U.S. Food Supply.