Vitamin K: Guide: Vitamin K1 VS K2

What Is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is almost a mysterious vitamin, one not often mentioned, or seen on shelves as a supplement, but this dark-horse of the vitamin world has a huge part to play in our health and wellbeing.Vitamin K is not a single vitamin. Rather, nature provides it in two forms—K1 and K2.

Vitamin K VS K2

Vitamin K exists as two main forms which is Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2.

Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone): sourced from vegetables and converted into vitamin K2 by intestinal bacteria

Vitamin K2: the activated form of vitamin K, found in organ meats, egg yolks and some fermented foods

The K2 version is much more active in the body, but we get much more vitamin K1 in the diet

Vitamin K1

Vitamin K1 or phylloquinone is found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, collards and broccoli, and is converted into K2—the activated form—by intestinal bacteria. Close to 90 percent of vitamin K in the typical diet comes from this source.

Vitamin K2

Kudos to you if you know that K2 is the second highest mountain in the world. Double kudos if you also know that vitamin K2 is an important form of vitamin K that can play a major role in the health of your bones and heart.What is Vitamin K2 good for

So what does vitamin k2 do?

The role of vitamin K2 is to activate two important proteins: osteocalcin—a bone-building protein hormone, and matrix GLA-protein which inhibits minerals such as calcium entering the blood vessels.

Recently, much emphasis has been put on the positive influence of vitamin D3 on the bones, and in possibly reducing the impact of the SARS CoV-2 virus on the body. As a result, many people have substantially increased their vitamin D3 intake. When considering vitamin D3 supplementa-tion, it is important to recognize that—while increasing calcium absorption is good for the bones—it is not so positive for the cardiovascular system.

For this reason, we highly recommend using vitamin D3 in conjunction with vitamin K2. Both con-tribute to the absorption of calcium during bone formation and facilitate the interaction of calcium and magnesium. However, in the absence of vitamin K2 to drive circulating calcium into the bones, this vital mineral will instead be deposited in the arteries, leading to atherosclero-sis. Vitamins D3 and K2 work synergistically to ensure calcium is deposited in the bones and not in the blood vessels. [i]

A 2007 animal study also suggests that vitamin K2 can reverse existing arterial plaque. [ii] Re-search into whether this also applies to humans is ongoing.

Vitamin K also plays an important role in clotting of the blood, and regulating blood sugar levels in patients with diabetes [iii]

What Foods Are High in Vitamin K?

So what food has vitamin K? Fortunately there are a number of vitamin k food sources which include rich fruits and vegetables which include some of the following:

  • Green leafy vegetables: kale, spinach, turnip greens, collards, Swiss chard, mustard greens, parsley, romaine and green leaf lettuce.
  • Other vegetables: Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage
  • Fruits: plums, avocados and kiwis
  • Fish, liver, meat, eggs, cheese, cereals
  • Adults and children who eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of the foods shown above should be obtaining enough vitamin K.


Vitamin K1 or phylloquinone is found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, collards and broccoli, and is converted into K2—the activated form—by intestinal bacteria. Close to 90 percent of vitamin K in the typical diet comes from this source.

Vitamin K2 or menaquinone is present in organ meats, cheese, egg yolks and some fermented foods.

Vitamin K Recommended Daily Allowance

Population groupAdequate intake per day
Children 0-6 months2 micrograms
Children 7-12 months2.5 micrograms
Children 1-330 micrograms
Children 4-855 micrograms
Children 9-1360 micrograms
Girls 14-1875 micrograms
Women 19 and up90 micrograms
Women pregnant or breastfeeding (19-50)90 micrograms
Women pregnant or breastfeeding (less than 19)75 micrograms
Boys 15-18120 micrograms
Men 19 and up120 micrograms

Note: Adults and children who eat a balanced diet that include plenty of the foods mentioned above should get enough vitamin K, and do not need supplementation.

People Who May Benefit from Vitamin K Supplements

– Babies: Who usually get a shot of vitamin K at birth– People Individuals with digestive diseases such as Crohn’s disease, coeliac disease– People taking drugs that interfere with the absorption of vitamin K including antibiotics and anticonvulsants

A decrease in vitamin K status and/or an increase in demand for the vitamin often occur in very malnourished people as well as in heavy drinkers and recreational drug users.

Vitamin K Drug and Nutrient Interactions

If you take blood thinning drugs (anticoagulants) such as warfarin, you may need to monitor your intake of vitamin K foods and not consider taking any form of supplementation before consulting with your healthcare practitioner.

If you feel your vitamin K levels could be low, you may wish to schedule an appointment with one of Natural Chemist’s nutritionists. You will receive advice on what, if any, dietary changes you should make, and whether or not you should be supplementing. Please call 1300 882 303.

Now that you know the importance of vitamin K to your strength and wellbeing, have fun climbing those mountains!

Feel Like Your Vitamin K Levels Are Too Low? Book An Appointment With Us!

A deficiency of vitamin K is not common, but you may find your levels are not as healthy as they could be, which can have some health implications. Some early signs may include excessive bruising or bleeding.

A deficiency may occur when the body can’t properly absorb the vitamin from the intestinal tract, or after long-term treatment with antibiotics. But it also seems that we modern humans are becoming increasingly deficient in K2 because we don’t eat large quantities of vitamin K1 or K2 containing foods, mainly our leafy green veggies.

If you feel your vitamin K levels could be too low, why not get in touch with the Natural Chemist for an appointment with one of our nutritionists. They will be able to give you input and advice on dietary changes to increase your intake as well as look at supplementation if appropriate. Call Now On: 1300 882 303.

So, as calcium’s chaperone and a role in increasing bone density, it seems K2 may actually help you climb those mountains

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