American Vitamin K2 Food Sources

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By Fran Benham

Vitamin K, once referred to as “factor x,” yielded its secrets slowly over the last century. Once thought of simply as the blood clotting factor, today we recognize it as a complex, multi-faceted family of nutrients serving a variety of biological functions. Recent research revealed that while the normal aging process includes some calcification of elastic tissues, those who consume an adequate level of Vitamin K suffer less from this aging process. This finding led PXE researchers to hypothesize that Vitamin K might be implicated in the early elastic tissue calcification found in PXE patients. Recent studies, as indicated in the July 2008 issue of PXE Awareness, have confirmed this hypothesis. One study demonstrated that a PXE knockout mouse, treated with a normal liver tissue transplant, was able to process Vitamin K in a normal manner. While this excites hope, it is important to understand that much more complex human livers need much more study to possibly take this step.

In the meantime, PXE patients want to know if they can do anything with this new information. Our doctors say yes, but proceed with caution. Do not over-indulge in Vitamin K consumption. Vitamin K1 is easy to find in the American diet – and we don’t need much. This issue includes a list of Vitamin K food sources along with amounts needed in normal diets. Our best advice is to consume the recommended amount – AND NO MORE. We need more data to do anything else.

Vitamin K2 is also very important, but we need much more information to be certain about amounts. Available research indicates that we do not need much K2. Our doctors tell us to consume it in small amounts for now. Those who decide to eat natto should do so no more often than once per week. Natto is not appealing to American tastes, but is by far the richest source of K2 in the diet. A Japanese American friend who grew up eating natto suggests serving it mixed in steamed rice with soy sauce. This writer adds a heaping teaspoon of mustard and steamed vegetables. Stir well and repeat several times with quiet, firm conviction, “I will eat this,” then eat it quickly followed by something tasty like a small cluster of grapes or fresh apple slices.

Natto is available in Asian food stores, is inexpensive, servings are individually wrapped and must be refrigerated. Servings thankfully are small. Some PXE patients have decided to eat it once every two weeks, some once a month and others realize they can obtain K2 from other foods.

Fermented hard cheeses also provide K2. These are naturally aged cheeses which are more expensive than other cheeses. Fortunately, serving sizes should be small, perhaps only a tablespoon of grated cheese on a salad. So far we have identified the following hard cheeses available in the U.S.: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Parmesan and semi-hard Munster. There are soft fermented cheeses also, but to date we are told by our doctors to use only those that are hard. We will continue to gather data on cheeses as this appears to be a good daily option for most of us. Remember – keep those servings small. Such cheeses also provide a high fat content.

Another good daily option for Americans is sauerkraut, a fermented cabbage dish. In Germany and Eastern European countries, one can buy sauerkraut by weight from a barrel in almost any grocery store. In the U.S. those who have excellent deli stores may find fresh sauerkraut. Some groceries have it in jars in the refrigerated meat section – for example Clausen Sauerkraut. Nearby, one may find in plastic bags such brands as Boar’s Head or Flanagan Krrrist Kraut. Other brands are available in jars or bags around the country. That in jars or bags must be refrigerated and seems more palatable than that available in cans. The canned variety is fermented, but it contains an extra portion of salt which makes it less fresh tasting. Donnie Carpenter of Fort Worth found his best choice to be kraut purchased from a local German restaurant. Once again, be reminded that a daily small serving is sufficient to meet known nutritional needs.

A suggestion for taking care of daily K2 nutrition is a small sauerkraut sandwich. Cut in half one slice of a hearty bread such as multigrain, whole wheat or rye, add a small amount of a favored condiment such as mayonnaise or mustard, a thin layer of grated hard-fermented cheese, a sprinkle of black pepper, a slice of fresh tomato and several tablespoons of sauerkraut. This makes a nice, quick, low calorie lunch and fulfills the need for Vitamin K2.

The list of K2 food sources provided by Dr. Struk includes a number of fat-rich red meats and dairy products. These should be eaten sparingly by PXE patients prone to cardiology problems.

We welcome information and suggestions for such sources and for ways to serve them.

VITAMIN K

In 2000, the National Academy of Sciences established the following Adequate Intake (AI) levels for Vitamin K:

Group

Age

Micrograms

Males and females

0-6 months

2

Males and females

7-12 months

2.5

Males and females

1-3 years

30

Males and females

4-8 years

55

Males and females

9-13 years

60

Males and females

14-18 years

75

Males

19 years and older

120

Females

19 years and older

90

Pregnant or lactating females

18 years and younger

75

Pregnant or lactating females

19 years and older

90

Basic Vitamin K Food Sources:

Food

Serving

Vitamin K (mcg)

Olive Oil

1 Tbsp

8.1

Soybean Oil

1 Tbsp

25.0

Canola Oil

1 Tbsp

16.6

Mayonnaise

1 Tbsp

3.7

Broccoli, cooked, chopped

1 cup

220.0

Kale, raw, chopped

1 cup

547.0

Spinach, raw

1 cup

145.0

Leaf lettuce (green), raw, shredded

1 cup

62.5

Swiss Chard, raw

1 cup

229.0

Watercress, raw, chopped

1 cup

85.0

Parsley, raw

1/4 cup

246.0

World's healthiest foods ranked as quality sources of: Vitamin K

Food

Serving Size

Calories

Amount (mcg)

Parsley, fresh

2 tbs

2.7

123.00

Kale, boiled

1 cup

36.4

1062.10

Spinach, boiled

1 cup

41.4

888.50

Mustard greens, boiled

1 cup

21.0

419.30

Turnip greens, cooked

1 cup

28.8

529.34

Swiss chard, boiled

1 cup

35.0

572.80

Collard greens, boiled

1 cup

49.4

704.00

Romaine lettuce

2 cups

15.7

114.80

Basil, dried, ground

2 tsp

7.5

48.01

Thyme, dried, ground

2 tsp

7.9

48.01

Brussel sprouts, boiled

1 cup

60.8

218.80

Broccoli, steamed

1 cup

43.7

155.20

Cabbage, shredded, boiled

1 cup

33.0

73.35

Asparagus, boiled

1 cup

43.2

91.80

Oregano, dried, ground

2 tsp

9.2

18.65

Celery, raw

1 cup

19.2

35.26

Kelp (sea vegetable)

0.25 cup

8.6

13.20

Black pepper

2 tsp

10.9

6.88

Green beans, boiled

1 cup

43.8

20.00

Cloves, dried, ground

2 tsp

14.2

5.96

Cauliflower, boiled

1 cup

28.5

11.17

Tomato, ripe

1 cup

37.8

14.22

Green peas, boiled

1 cup

134.4

41.40

Carrots, raw

1 cup

52.5

16.10

Cayenne pepper, dried

2 tsp

11.2

2.89

Bell peppers, red, raw, slices

1 cup

24.8

4.51

Summer squash, cooked, slices

1 cup

36.0

6.30

Avocado, slices

1 cup

235.1

29.20

Miso

1 oz

70.8

8.53

Soybeans, cooked

1 cup

297.6

33.02

Cranberries

0.50 cup

23.3

2.42

Pumpkin seeds, raw

0.25 cup

186.7

17.73

Cow's milk, 2%

1 cup

121.2

9.76

Pear

1 each

97.9

7.47

Strawberries

1 cup

43.2

3.17

Papaya

1 each

118.6

7.90

Kidney beans, cooked

1 cup

224.8

14.87