Vitamin K2 engages in a delicate dance with vitamin D; whereas vitamin D provides improved bone development by helping you absorb calcium, there is new evidence that vitamin K2 directs the calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don’t want it — i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. As mentioned, a large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term “hardening of the arteries.”
Vitamin K2 has also actually been found to decalcify certain tissues undergoing pathological (also known as ectopic) calcification. Vitamin K2 activates a protein hormone called osteocalcin, produced by osteoblasts, which is needed to bind calcium into the matrix of your bone. Osteocalcin also appears to help prevent calcium from depositing into your arteries.
In other words, without the help of vitamin K2, the calcium that your vitamin D so effectively lets in might be working AGAINST you — by building up your coronary arteries rather than your bones. This is why if you take calcium and vitamin D but are deficient in vitamin K, you could be worse off than if you were not taking those supplements at all.
Top 10 Vitamin K Rich Foods List
- Green Leafy Vegetables (Kale) – ½ c: 444 mcg (over 100% DV)
- Natto (fermented soy) – 2 oz: 500 mcg (over 100% DV)
- Spring onions (Scallions) – ½ c: 103 mcg (over 100% DV)
- Brussels Sprouts – ½ c: 78 mcg (98% DV)
- Cabbage – ½ cup: 82 mcg (over 100% DV)
- Broccoli – ½ c: 46 mcg (58% DV)
- Dairy (fermented) – ½ c: 10 mcg (10% DV)
- Prunes½ c: 52 mcg (65% DV)
- Cucumbers – 1 medium: 49 mcg (61% DV)
- Dried basil – 1 Tbsp: 36 mcg (45% DV)
Try consuming 2-3 of these vitamin k rich foods daily.
Dark green leafy vegetables
Kale, collard greens, spinach, and broccoli are good sources of vitamin E and folate.
Anti-Inflammatory Health Benefits
We have yet to see research on kale’s omega-3 content and inflammation, but we would expect this kind of research to show the omega-3s in kale to be an important part of kale’s anti-inflammatory benefits. It only takes 100 calories of kale to provide us with 25-35% of the National Academy of Sciences’ public health recommendation for the most basic omega-3 fatty acid (alpha-linolenic acid, or ALA). We suspect that this amount will be plenty to show direct anti-inflammatory benefits from routine kale intake.
We also have yet to see specific research on inflammation and kale’s vitamin K content. But we know that kale is a spectacular source of vitamin K (one cup of kale provides far more micrograms of vitamin K than any of our 135 World’s Healthiest foods) and we also know that vitamin K is a key nutrient for helping regulate our body’s inflammatory process. Taken in combination, we expect these two facts about vitamin K to eventually get tied together in health research that shows kale to be an exceptional food for lowering our risk of chronic inflammation and associated health problems.
Glucosinolates and Cancer-Preventive Benefits
What we have already seen in the health research on kale is ample evidence that its glucosinolates provide cancer-preventive benefits. Kale is a top food source for at least four glucosinolates, and once kale is eaten and digested, these glucosinolates can be converted by the body into cancer preventive compounds. Kale’s glucosinolates and the ITCs made from them have well-documented cancer preventive properties, and in some cases, cancer treatment properties as well. At the top of the cancer-related research for kale are colon cancer and breast cancer, but risk of bladder cancer, prostate cancer, and ovarian cancer have all been found to decrease in relationship to routine intake of kale. The chart below presents a summary of the unusual glucosinlate phytonutrients found in kale, and the anti-cancer ITCs made from them inside the body.
Nutrients in Kale 1.00 Cup Cooked (130.00 grams)
Nutrient %Daily Value
vitamin K 1327.6%
vitamin A 354.1%
vitamin C 88.8%
Antioxidant-Related Health Benefits
Like most of its fellow cruciferous vegetables, kale has been studied more extensively in relationship to cancer than any other health condition. This research focus makes perfect sense. Kale’s nutrient richness stands out in three particular areas: (1) antioxidant nutrients, (2) anti-inflammatory nutrients, and (3) anti-cancer nutrients in the form of glucosinolates.