The Importance of Getting Enough Vitamin K

By: Robert M. Blair, Ph.D.

Vitamin K has been shown to have important health benefits, particularly in regards to bone and heart health [1]. Unfortunately, a recent study has reported that many of us do not get the vitamin K we need.

The Study:

In this study, investigators examined the frequency of vitamin K insufficiency in over 4,200 people who had taken part in a larger study [2]. To assess vitamin K insufficiency, the investigators measured blood levels of dp-ucMGP, a compound that increases in the blood when vitamin K levels are low. In addition to determining the frequency of low vitamin K blood levels, the authors of this study assessed the relationship between vitamin K insufficiency and certain health conditions as well as attempting to determine a cut-off value for identifying individuals at increased risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality.


The Results:

The results of this study showed that 31% of the total study population had functional vitamin K insufficiency, measured as dp-ucMGP levels >500 pmol/L. In elderly individuals and individuals with health conditions like hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, the frequency of insufficient vitamin K rose to approximately 50%. Additionally, the prevalence of vitamin K insufficiency rose even further in individuals with more than one health condition.

The study investigators also reported that there was a clear association between functional vitamin K insufficiency and the risk for all-cause mortality and cardiovascular mortality such that individuals with dp-ucMGP levels >414 pmol/L were at increased risk for all-cause mortality and individuals with dp-ucMGP levels /557 pmol/L were at increased risk for cardiovascular-related death.


What It Means:

Overall, the results of this study (as well as others) have shown that about one-third of the general population has insufficient vitamin K and that number is even higher in individuals with chronic health conditions. While vitamin K can be obtained in the diet (vitamin K1 from dark leafy vegetables and vitamin K2 from fermented foods), it is clear that many of us do not get the vitamin K we need. Therefore, supplementing with vitamin K, particularly vitamin K2 with its bone and heart benefits, might be a good way to get the vitamin K you need each day.




  1. DiNicolantonio JJ, Bhutani J, O’Keefe JH. The health benefits of vitamin K. Open Heart. 2015 Oct 6;2(1):e000300. doi: 10.1136/openhrt-2015-000300
  2. Riphagen IJ, Keyzer CA, Drummen NEA, de Borst MH, Beulens JWJ, Gansevoort RT, Geleijnse JM, Muskiet FAJ, Navis G, Visser ST, Vermeer C, Kema IP, Bakker SJL.