The term ‘vitamin K’ refers to a collection of fat-soluble vitamins that perform a function in blood clotting, bone metabolism as well as regulating blood calcium levels. The body requires vitamin K in order to produce prothrombin (which is a protein) as well as a clotting factor which is significant in blood clotting as well as bone metabolism. Individuals who take blood-thinning medications, such as Warfarin or Xarelto, should not begin to take extra vitamin K without first consulting a doctor.
What are the causes of a vitamin K deficiency?
The most widespread reasons for a vitamin K deficiency:
- Poor diet,
- Insufficient absorption,
- Decreased storage of the vitamin owing to liver disease,
- Decreased production of Vitamin K in the intestines.
A deficiency of vitamin K is rare in healthy individuals. However, it is relatively common in those who are severely ill or who have certain chronic conditions:
- Cancer patients who are getting chemotherapy,
- Patients who are on chronic dialysis patients, and
- People who present risks for malnutrition, for example those with a poor diet and are alcoholics or abuse drugs.
What are the signs and symptoms of a vitamin K deficiency?
The signs and symptoms that are related to a vitamin K deficiency may include:
- Bruising easily
- Discharge from the nose or gums
- Extreme bleeding from wounds, punctures as weak as injection or surgical sites
- Heavy menstruation
- Bleeding coming from the gastrointestinal tract
- Blood present in the urine and/or stool
With respect to vitamin K deficiency bleeding in new-born babies, the signs and symptoms may be similar to those listed above. However, in more serious cases such a deficiency may also involve bleeding within the skull.
A vitamin K deficiency may be suspected when the symptoms listed above appear in someone who is at a higher risk, for example:
- Those who happen to be suffering from a chronic condition that is related to malnutrition or malabsorption.
- Those who have taking long-term antibiotic treatment as this medication can kill the bacteria that help to produce vitamin K2 in the small intestine.
- Patient who are seriously ill, such as cancer or dialysis patients.
What foods are high in vitamin K?
The following list of foods are high in vitamin K:
- Kale (cooked)
- Mustard Greens (cooked)
- Swiss Chard (raw)
- Collard Greens (cooked)
- Natto (Fermented Soybeans)
- Spinach (raw)
- Brussels Sprouts (cooked)
- Beef Liver
- Pork Chops
- Goose Liver Paste
- Green Beans (cooked)
- Soybean Oil
- Hard Cheeses
- Green Peas (cooked)
- Soft Cheeses
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