Vitamin K is a lipid-soluble vitamin that is known and vital for helping blood clotting and keeping bones strong. It is fundamental in the human organism for several other reasons.
As one of the benefits of vitamin K is healthy blood clotting, it works for example in the healing of a wound and
prevents excessive bleeding. Also, in the case of bones, vitamin K helps to reduce the risk of bone fractures.
There is also evidence that this vitamin also helps to prevent arterial calcification.
Vitamin K deficiency can occur at any age, however, it is found most often in children, who must be treated with care.
Vitamin K Types
Vitamin K can be found in three types, including:
- Vitamin K1: Also known as phylloquinone, it is found in vegetables (mainly green leaves) and can be ingested daily, even in high doses, as it is not toxic;
- Vitamin K2: Also known as Menaquinone, it is produced by bacteria in our body that are found in the intestine. It is also non-toxic, even though it is produced in large doses;
- Vitamin K3: Also known as Menadione, it is a synthetic compound and can be twice as potent(biologically) as vitamins K1 and K2. Furthermore, it can be transformed into vitamin K2 if it passes through the intestinal tract. Unlike the others, if taken in high doses, it can cause anemia and liver damage. This vitamin is used in some treatments.
Symptoms of lack of vitamin K
Vitamin K deficiency in the body is difficult to happen, because it is present in many foods such as vegetables
and some spices. Also, as seen earlier, bacteria in the gut naturally and on their own produce vitamin K; because
of that, unlike other vitamins, it is hardly used in food supplements.
Even though it is rare, there are cases of vitamin K deficiency, and the symptoms are:
- Blood clotting problems or heavy bleeding;
- Problems with calcification of cartilage;
- Uncontrollable bleeding at surgical sites;
- Stomach pain;
- Cerebral hemorrhage in newborns. In this case, there may be some deficiencies at birth, such as malformation of the face, nose, bones and fingers.
Vitamin K deficiency in newborns
Lack of vitamin K in newborns can be caused by immature liver function and the transfer of low amounts
through the mother’s placenta or breast milk. If there is no application of vitamin K in the newborn administered
soon after birth, there may be a risk of bleeding due to vitamin deficiency.
This bleeding, also known as newborn hemorrhagic disease, is associated with more severe cases such as
cutaneous, gastrointestinal, and intracranial hemorrhage.
The application is necessary as a preventive measure and it may be necessary to apply it for a few days after birth,
until the child creates bacteria that carry out the production of the vitamin in the body on their own.
Causes of lack of vitamin K
Because vitamin K is naturally produced by bacteria in the intestine, when a person needs to take antibiotics for
some reason it ends up killing bacteria (both good and bad), putting the individual at risk for vitamin K deficiency
(due to the destruction of the bacteria ).
Other causes can also be found if you:
- Have a disease that affects the absorption of nutrients in the digestive tract, such as Crohn’s disease (chronic disease that compromises the digestive tract) and celiac disease (people who cannot eat foods that contain gluten);
- Taking medications that interfere with vitamin K absorption;
- Being severely malnourished;
- Liver related diseases;
- Drink high amounts of alcohol frequently.
If you fit these last cases, consult a doctor and consider taking supplements rich in vitamin K.
How to Replace Vitamin K
Below you will find the exact amount of vitamin K needed daily. The replacement of lack of vitamin K
can be done only with food, only in particular cases you can add supplements (as seen above):
|Age||Recommended daily amount|
|Children between 0 to six months||2 micrograms|
|Children between seven months to 12 months||2.5 micrograms|
|Children between 1 and 3 years old||30 micrograms|
|Children between 4 to 8 years old||55 micrograms|
|Children between 9 to 13 years old||60 micrograms|
|Girls between 14 and 18 years old||75 micrograms|
|Women from 19 years old||90 micrograms|
|Women, pregnant women and women who are breastfeeding(between 19 and 50 years old)
Women, pregnant women, women who are breastfeeding
(under 19 years old)
|14 to 18 year old boys||75 micrograms|
|Men from 19 years old||120 micrograms|
No side effects were found from high intakes of vitamin K from foods and supplements. However, this
does not exclude the fact that a person experiences secondary side effects. Follow the recommended dos
and avoid inconvenience.
See below for foods that are sources of vitamin K :
- Green cabbage;
As many foods have vitamin K in their composition and the intestine produces it, there is almost
no need to ingest a supplement with this vitamin. However, keep to a balanced diet often, and if you
feel you need food supplements and multivitamins, talk to your doctor.
As seen above, it is difficult to find cases of lack of vitamin K in the body, so if you are taking
any type of daily medication or experience different symptoms, consult a doctor, do tests and see
what is the best option for your case. Another essential tip is to always maintain a balanced diet.