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Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in blood clotting, bone health and other bodily functions.

It is found naturally in a variety of foods, including leafy green vegetables, cruciferous vegetables and dairy products.

It is also available as a supplement in both forms of vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone).

Vitamin K1 is important for blood clotting, while vitamin K2 helps regulate calcium in the body and has been linked to reduced risk of bone fractures.

It is important for newborns to get enough vitamin K, as it helps to prevent serious bleeding problems.

Vitamin K deficiencies are rare, but can lead to an increased risk of bleeding and bone fractures.


Food Sources of Vitamin K

While it can be obtained from certain supplements, the best sources are found in food.

Here are some of the top food sources of the vitamin:

  • Dark, leafy greens such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and Swiss chard.
  • Certain fruits, including kiwi, blueberries and avocados.
  • Vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.
  • Soybeans and other legumes.
  • Dairy products like yogurt and cheese.
  • Meat and fish such as beef liver, chicken, salmon and tuna.
  • Some nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and flaxseeds.

Health Benefits of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that plays a key role in the body’s ability to clot blood and maintain strong bones.

Here is a list of some of the benefits of the vitamin:

  • It helps to prevent excessive bleeding and bruising by aiding in the clotting of blood.
  • Helps build and strengthen bones by assisting in the absorption of calcium.
  • It helps maintain cardiovascular health by promoting healthy blood vessel walls and reducing calcium buildup in arteries.
  • Helps regulate the body’s insulin levels, which can be beneficial for people with diabetes.
  • It may help reduce the risk of certain types of cancer, such as prostate cancer.
  • Can help protect against liver and gallbladder disease.

Vitamin K Benefits for Skin

Vitamin K works with vitamin C to protect collagen, a protein found in connective tissue throughout the body.

Collagen gives skin its strength and elasticity. As we age, our bodies produce less collagen, making us more prone to wrinkles.


Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA)

The recommended intake for different age groups and gender is as follows:

90–120 mcg/day for adults
90-150 mcg/day for pregnant women

For children, the daily recommended intake is based on age.

30-55 mcg/day for those aged 1-3 years
55-65 mcg/day for those aged 4-8 years

It is important to note that dietary sources of Vitamin K are the most easily absorbed by the body, so it is best to obtain it from food sources.


Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency

This deficiency is a condition in which the body does not have enough of the essential vitamin K.

This can lead to a variety of health problems, including excessive bleeding and bone fractures.

Symptoms of this deficiency can include:

  • Easy bruising
  • Bleeding from wounds and cuts that won’t stop
  • Heavy menstrual periods
  • Blood in the urine
  • Blood in the stool
  • Nosebleeds
  • Heavy bleeding after surgery or tooth extraction
  • Unexplained joint pain
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Pale skin
  • Bone fractures

Causes

There are several possible causes of this deficiency, including inadequate dietary intake, malabsorption syndromes, liver disease, bariatric surgery and certain medications.

Additionally, infants may develop this deficiency because their bodies do not produce enough of the vitamin on their own. Infants are normally given vitamin K shots at birth, otherwise they may develop Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) during anytime between birth and six years of age.

It is important to note that vitamin K deficiency can be dangerous and should be treated as soon as possible.

If left untreated, it can lead to serious complications such as cerebral hemorrhage or liver failure.


Diagnosis

Diagnosing can be difficult, as the symptoms can be vague.

In order to diagnose vitamin K deficiency, your doctor must first collect a detailed medical history and perform a physical examination.

He may also order blood tests to measure levels of vitamin K-dependent proteins like prothrombin, which help to clot blood.

Your doctor may also order other tests to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms.


Treatment

Treatment for this deficiency usually involves dietary changes and supplementation with vitamin K.

Dietary changes should include increasing your intake of foods that are high in the vitamin, such as leafy greens, broccoli and green tea.

Supplements can also be used to replenish your vitamin K levels.

Depending on the severity of the deficiency, your doctor may recommend oral supplements or injectable forms of vitamin K.

In severe cases, additional medications may be necessary to prevent bleeding and other complications.

If you have been diagnosed with this deficiency, it is important to follow your doctor’s instructions and take all necessary steps to restore your vitamin K levels.


Genetics and Vitamin K Deficiency

People with certain gene variants may be more likely to develop this deficiency due to their genetic makeup.

For example, some variants of the gene VKORC1 are associated with an increased risk for vitamin K deficiency.

Also, mutations in the genes ELA2 and GGCX have been linked to a higher risk for vitamin K deficiency.

It is important to note that these genetic risks are rare, and most cases of vitamin K deficiency are due to lifestyle or dietary factors.


 

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Sources: WebMD, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, NHS, Medical News Today, MSD Manual, CDC, National Library of Medicine (1, 2, 3), Oxford Academic, Healthdirect and PubMed.

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