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In this blog we have discussed about Vitamin K Deficiency, Uses, Dosage, Sources & Daily Requirements

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that the body needs to stay healthy. The letter “K” stands for “Koagulation”, a Danish term for coagulation. It is important for blood clotting, helping wounds to heal and for healthy bones.

Vitamin K is group of vitamins that comes in two form.

  1. Vitamin K1 (Phylloquinone or phytonadion ) – found in green leafy vegetables like broccoli, collard greens, kale, and spinach.
  2. Vitamin K2 (Menaquinones) – found in some animal foods and fermented foods and it is also produced by bacteria in human body.
  3. Synthetic analogue, known as menadione or K3, is water-soluble, and it is converted to vitamin K2 in the liver.

Functions of Vitamin K:

1. Helps in wound healing  

Vitamin K helps in postsurgical healing due to its blood clotting activity which promotes blood clotting in the body and reduces the recovery duration. Vitamin K can also be used after surgery to prevent incisions and any bleeding complications effectively.

2. Improve bone density 

Vitamin K promotes bone formation by stimulating the osteoblast differentiation, increasing the level of some bone formation markers (e.g., alkaline phosphatase and insulin-like growth factor, and regulating the extracellular matrix mineralization through Y-glutamyl carboxylation. Also, vitamin K prevents bone resorption via its anticatabolic activities, namely, decreasing osteoclast differentiation and inhibiting osteoblast apoptosis.

3. Prevent prostate cancer

Higher levels of vitamin K2 and higher intake of this vitamin are correlated with reduced fatal prostate cancer (PCa) and vitamin K2 deficiency status has been found in most men with aggressive PCa. In vitro research studies also support the notion that various forms of vitamin K (K2, K4, and K3) are effective against different types of prostate cancers. 

4. Restore oral health 

So far, there haven’t been any scientifically valid human studies on the effects of vitamin K2 on oral health. There have only been discussions and hypotheses put forward about the potential benefits of vitamin K2 for your teeth, such as one published in Medical Hypotheses. This hypothesis suggests vitamin K2 may play a role in preventing cavities; however, more research needs to be conducted on the subject.

5. Anti-aging process

Vitamin K helps protecting the collagen in the body. Your skin will be more, plump, smooth and youthful when healthy collagen production is maintained. Thereby vitamin K helps in maintaining its elasticity by preventing wrinkles and fine lines. 

6. Alzheimer fighting properties

Vitamin K supplementation was correlated with reduced evidence of cognitive impairment, depression and anxiety, along with improved spatial memory and learning ability. However, there have been no clinical studies investigating the role of vitamin K2 in the prevention or treatment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), a debilitating disease for which currently there is no cure.

7. Prevent heart disease

Vitamin K is known to prevent calcium build up/ deposition in the arteries around your heart. This way it helps prevent artery calcification of heart & lowering the risk of heart disease. 

How much vitamin K do you need?

The amount of vitamin K you need depends on your age and sex. Average daily recommended amounts are listed below in micrograms (mcg).

Life StageRecommended Amount
Birth to 6 months2.0 mcg
7–12 months2.5 mcg
1–3 years30 mcg
4–8 years55 mcg
9–13 years60 mcg
14–18 years75 mcg
Adult men 19 years and older120 mcg
Adult women 19 years and older90 mcg
Pregnant or breastfeeding teens75 mcg
Pregnant or breastfeeding women90 mcg

Sources of vitamin K

Vitamin K is found naturally in many foods. You can get recommended amounts of vitamin K by eating a variety of foods, including the following:

For vitamin K1 (phylloquinone and phytonadione)

  • Green leafy vegetables, such as spinach, kale, collard, turnip greens, broccoli, and lettuce, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, lettuces
  • Vegetable oils like Soybean & canola oil
  • Some fruits, such as blueberries and figs
  • Fortified meal replacement shakes

For vitamin K2 – (menaquinone-4, and menaquinone-7)

  • Natto (fermented soybeans)
  • Smaller amounts in meat, cheese, eggs

Vitamin K deficiency symptoms:

Deficiency of Vitamin K is very rare. Severe vitamin K deficiency can lead to easy bruising and excessive bleeding because the blood will take longer to clot. Vitamin K deficiency can also decrease bone strength and increase the risk of getting osteoporosis because the body needs vitamin K for healthy bones.

People are at risk of developing vitamin K deficiency are:

  • People with conditions (such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, and short bowel syndrome) that decrease the amount of vitamin K their body absorbs
  • People who have had bariatric (weight loss) surgery or part of their intestine removed.
  • People who are taking antibiotics, especially cephalosporins. These antibiotic reduces the absorption of vitamin K in the body. Using them for more than 10 days can vitamin K levels as these drugs kill not only harmful bacteria but also the bacteria that make vitamin K.
  • People taking bile acid sequestrants (such as cholestyramine and colestipol) to lower blood cholesterol levels. These medications can reduce the amount of vitamin K your body absorbs, especially if you are taking them for a long time.
  • Weight-loss drug Orlistat. It reduces the amount of fat your body absorbs and can decrease the absorption of vitamin K.
  • People taking warfarin and similar anticoagulants should monitor vitamin K levels regularly as  (it interferes with the production of the proteins involved in blood clotting) it thins the blood.

Newborns are prone to vitamin K deficiency because of the following:

  • Only small amounts of vitamin K is transferred from the mother’s placenta to the fetus.
    During the first few days after birth, the newborn’s intestine has not yet acquired bacteria to produce vitamin K.
  • Breast milk is very low in vitamin K
  • Vitamin K is not efficiently used by liver of a newborn infant.

Diagnosis of vitamin K deficiency:

The prothrombin time (PT) test is warranted see if a vitamin K deficiency is causing your symptoms. This is a blood test measures the time taken for your blood to clot.

A measuring unit INR (international normalized ratio) is used to evaluate. A Normal INR is about 0.9 to 1.1. For someone taking a blood thinner, it might be about 2 to 3.5.

Vitamin K deficiency treatment:

Vitamin K is found in multivitamin/multimineral supplements. Common forms of vitamin K in dietary supplements are phylloquinone and phytonadione (also called vitamin K1), menaquinone-4, and menaquinone-7 (also called vitamin K2).

Vitamin K injections can be administered under the skin in dosage ranging from:

  • 1 to 25 milligrams (mg) for adults
  • 0.5 to 1 mg for newborns.

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