About 40% of all people have a vitamin K deficiency. Most of them do not realise they have it. The risk of heart and artery disease becomes greater because of vitamin K deficiency. This is because the arteries lose their elasticity because of vitamin K shortage. Vitamin K or phylloquinone is an important prerequisite for blood coagulation. With too little vitamin K the blood doesn’t coagulate as it should and bleeding will happen more often and longer. There are also more and more indications that vitamin K plays an important part in the forming of bones. We get the most vitamin K from our diet. Foods rich in vitamin K are: eggs, dairy products, meat, grains, leafy vegetables and fruit.
Causes of vitamin K deficiency
- Patients that have coeliac disease or cystic fibrosis experience a disrupted absorption of fats in their intestines
- Prolonged use of antibiotics
- Serious liver trouble, for example liver cirrhosis
- Anticoagulants that counteract the effects of vitamin K
- A limited diet
- Vitamin K deficiency can develop after intestinal surgery
Symptoms of vitamin K deficiency
- Easy bruising
- Long duration of bleeding from wounds
- Spontaneous bleeding of the nasal membranes or gums. Blood found in urine or faeces
- Life threatening haemorrhages in or around the brain of infants.
- Weak bones.
- Prolific amount of dental cavities
Ascertaining and treating a vitamin K deficiency.
If you recognise one or more symptoms there is a chance that you have vitamin K deficiency. Promptly make an appointment with your physician to have your vitamin levels checked. In case of vitamin K deficiency you will be prescribed vitamin K drops. If there is heavy bleading, vitamin K injections will be administered. The physician can also administer coagulants intravenously or even decide to transfuse blood when there is severe blood loss.
Warning: people who use blood thinners or anticoagulants should not take extra vitamin K drops. Vitamin K may counteract these medications. Recently a special K2 meter has been marketed. Physicians and physiotherapists can now easily ascertain the amount of vitamin K a patient has in their body. On average you need to ingest 100 micrograms of this vitamin daily.
Consequences of too much vitamin K.
Up till now there are no known detrimental effects of too much vitamin K. In practice there have been no cases of vitamin K overdosage. However, physicians emphatically advise against the use of high dosage vitamin K supplements in combination with blood thinning medication.