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Vitamin K Functions and Sources & Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin, so your body stores it in fat tissue and the liver. Three forms of vitamin K are vitamin K1, vitamin K2 and vitamin K3. Vitamin K is necessary for blood clotting process. In the name vitamin K, k is the short form for the german word “koagulation”. Gut microbes can synthesize the vitamin K

What are the functions of vitamin K?

  • Vitamin K is an essential vitamin required for protein modification and blood clotting
  • Protects you from significant blood loss when you get injured
  • Helps in bone formation. The creation of mineral dense, strong bones results from an interplay between the function of vitamin K and vitamin D. The bone making cells called osteoblasts moves Ca in response to a hormone called osteocalcin. This hormone is regulated by vitamin D.
  • Vitamin K also involves in the prevention of the bone loss by inhibiting the production of osteoclasts the cells which break down the bone
  • Investigated as a critical nutrient for protecting cells that line blood vessels, including both veins and arteries.
  • It helps cells to communicate with each other
  • Vitamin K helps to prevent hardening of the arteries, which is a common factor in coronary artery disease and heart failure

How much amount is required?

Recommended dietary allowance of vitamin K is

0-6 months                                                                 2mcg

7-12 months                                                                 2.5mcg

1-3 years                                                                         30mcg

4-8 years                                                                         55mcg

9-13 years                                                                        60mcg

14-18 years                                                                  75mcg

19 years and older men                                               120mcg

19 years and older women                                         90mcg

Pregnant and breast feedi9ng women 19-50yrs     90mcg

Pregnant and breast feeding women below 19yrs 75mcg

vitamin-k-foodsHow can I get vitamin k?

The vitamin K sources are

  • Green leafy vegetables-spinach, mustard greens, turnip greens, beet greens
  • Spring onions, lettuce, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli
  • Cucumber, soybeans, asparagus
  • Dried coriander
  • Olive oil, canola oil
  • Dried fruits-blue berries, pears, peaches, figs
  • Beef liver
  • Chili powder

Who are at risk for vitamin K deficiency?

It is rare to have a vitamin K deficiency. That’s because in addition to being found in green leafy food, the bacteria in your intestine can make vitamin K

  • Newborns are at greater risk for vitamin k deficiency because babies are born without any bacteria in their intestines and do not get enough vitamin K from breast milk to tide them over until their bodies are able to make it
  • Vitamin K deficiency also seen in premature babies or those where mother had to take seizure medication during pregnancy
  • Dietary deficiency is extremely rare unless the intestine was heavily damaged, resulting in mal absorption of molecule
  • Have a disease that affects absorption in the gut, such as crohn’s disease or active celiac disease
  • Taking broad spectrum antibiotics can reduce vitamin K production in the gut by nearly 74% in people compared with those not taking these antibiotics
  • Taking drugs that interacts with vitamin K absorption
  • Severely malnourished
  • Over consumption of alcohol
  • Those with serious burns
  • Taking blood thinners
  • Those with liver diseases
  • Diet low in vitamin K
  • Those with chronic kidney disease

What are the symptoms of vitamin K deficiency?

  • Affects the blood clotting. Bleeding within the digestive tract, gum bleeding and heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Bruising, petechiae, hematomas
  • When there is a deficiency of vitamin K , osteocalcin does not bind CA. This means that Ca cannot bind to the bone matrix. Bones become porous due to lack of Ca. Ca is then also free to travel in the blood, and eventually gets deposited in the arteries. This cause a hardening of arteries known as atherosclerosis.
  • In infants, it can cause some birth defects such as underdeveloped face, nose, bones, fingers
  • Cartilage calcification
  • Uncontrolled bleeding at surgical or puncture sites
  • Low levels of vitamin K have been found in those with osteoporosis
  • Bleeding in brain in newborns

How to overcome vitamin K deficiency?

  • Avoid taking more antibiotics without doctor consultation
  • Take fresh green leafy vegetables
  • Underlying diseases should be treated
  • Mothers on seizure medications are often given oral vitamin K for 2 weeks before delivery
  • In some countries vitamin K injection is given to newborn babies to prevent bleeding in brain
  • Oral vitamin K supplements

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