Vitamin K nutrition, metabolism, and requirements: current concepts and future research

Adv Nutr. 2012 Mar 1;3(2):182-95. doi: 10.3945/an.111.001800.


In 2001, the US Food and Nutrition Board concluded that there were insufficient data with which to establish a RDA for vitamin K, in large part because of a lack of robust endpoints that reflected adequacy of intake. Knowledge of the relative bioavailability of multiple vitamin K forms was also poor. Since then, stable isotope methodologies have been applied to the assessment of the bioavailability of the major dietary form of vitamin K in its free state and when incorporated into a plant matrix. There is a need for stable isotope studies with enhanced sensitivity to expand knowledge of the bioavailability, absorption, disposition, and metabolism of different molecular forms of vitamin K. Another area for future research stems from evidence that common polymorphisms or haplotypes in certain key genes implicated in vitamin K metabolism might affect nutritional requirements. Thus far, much of this evidence is indirect via effects on warfarin dose requirements. In terms of clinical endpoints, vitamin K deficiency in early infancy continues to be a leading cause of intracranial bleeding even in developed countries and the reasons for its higher prevalence in certain Asian countries has not been solved. There is universal consensus for the need for vitamin K prophylaxis in newborns, but the effectiveness of any vitamin K prophylactic regimen needs to be based on sound nutritional principles. In contrast, there is still a lack of suitable biomarkers or clinical endpoints that can be used to determine vitamin K requirements among adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biological Availability
  • Bone and Bones / metabolism
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Intestinal Absorption
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Nutritional Requirements
  • Vitamin K / metabolism*
  • Vitamin K / pharmacokinetics
  • Vitamin K 1 / metabolism
  • Vitamin K 1 / pharmacokinetics
  • Vitamin K 2 / metabolism
  • Vitamin K 2 / pharmacokinetics


  • Vitamin K 2
  • Vitamin K
  • Vitamin K 1