VITAMIN K: What Does It Do In The Body?

Vitamin K belongs to the group of fat soluble vitamins, together with vitamin A, Vitamin D, and Vitamin E. Its primary roles are seen in blood clotting, bone metabolism and regulation of blood calcium levels. Your body needs vitamin K to produce prothrombin, a protein and clotting factor that is important in blood clotting and bone metabolism.

Vitamin K can reverse the effects of blood thinners. Therefore, people who use blood thinning medications, such as warfarin should not start consuming additional vitamin K without first consulting a doctor.

Sources of Vitamin K

They can be sourced from natural sources or from supplements. Naturally, they are found in food such as green vegetables with a lot of leaves, liver, vegetable oils and egg yolk. Healthy and good natural sources of Vitamin K Include the following

  • Eggs.
  • Strawberries.
  • Meat like liver.
  • Blueberries.
  • Lettuce.

Best Known Uses of Vitamin K

  • As already stated, vitamin k is used to treat and prevent low levels of certain substance (blood clothing factors) that your body naturally produces. These substance help your blood to thicken and stop bleeding normally when you have a cut or injury. When you have low levels of these blood clotting factors, you have an increased risk of excessive bleeding. Vitamin K helps to treat and prevent such unusual bleeding by increasing the body’s production of these blood clotting factors.
  • Newborn babies require vitamin K at birth. It is usually given to them by injection in the muscle, which helps to prevent bleeding in newborns.
  • Doctors may also use vitamin k, given by mouth or by injection into the veins, to patients taking blood thinning medications like warfarin. It helps to reduce too much blood thinning effects of these drugs and helps stabilize blood clotting time.
  • Some studies have shown that vitamin k may have some effect in increasing bone strength and reducing the risk of fracture in old women, especially those with weak bones.

Is There Vitamin K Deficiency?

Vitamin k deficiency is very uncommon, but some people may have a rare inherited bleeding disorder known as vitamin k-dependent clotting factors deficiency (VKCFD).

People may be at increased risk of deficiency if they have a diet that is extremely lacking in vitamin K. Adults taking some medications like antibiotics are also at risk of vitamin K deficiency. Some antibiotics cause the body to produce less of its own vitamin K. Other antibiotics may also cause it to become less effective in the body.

The main symptoms of vitamin k deficiency is excessive bleeding. Sometimes the bleeding may happen even in areas other than cut or wound sites. People with the deficiency may

  • Bruise easily.
  • Get small blood clots underneath their nails.
  • Bleed in mucous membranes that line areas inside the body.
  • Produce stool that looks dark black.
  • Stool may contain some blood in infants.

Doctors may also observe vitamin K deficiency in a person if the person is bleediing :

  • From the area where the umbilical cord is removed.
  • In the skin, nose, the gastrointestinal tract, or other areas.

However, the doctor will have to do more tests to rule out other possible causes of the bleeding.

Supplements

Vitamin K is found in multivitamin or multimineral supplements. They are also available in supplements of vitamin k alone or vitamin k with a few other nutrients such as calcium, magnesium, and or vitamin D. Common form of vitamin k in dietary supplement are phylloquinone and phytonadione, also called vitamin K1. Menaquinone 4 and menaquinone- 7 also called vitamin K2.

Toxicity

When consumed orally, the natural fat- soluble vitamin k are not toxic even in large amounts. However, toxicity can be caused by menadione, sometimes called vitamin K3, which is a synthetic water soluble vitamin k precursor that is used in supplements.

Too much vitamin k may lower blood sugar levels. If you have diabetes, be sure to monitor your blood sugar levels closely if you take vitamin k supplements. Also note that vitamin k is not effective in treating clotting problems caused by liver disease. It can actually worsen your condition. Discuss with your doctor before using any supplements.

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