If you are healthy and eating enough vitamin food in your diet, you probably don’t need to worry about vitamin K deficiency. The food sources rich in vitamin K are leafy green vegetables such as collards, spinach, kale, and green leaf lettuce. The other vegetables that are natural sources of vitamin K are broccoli, brussels sprouts, asparagus, and cabbage. Other sources of vitamin food include vegetable oils, cereals, dairy products, and soybeans.
Let’s take a look and learn what is vitamin K deficiency, why it’s important, as well as the signs and symptoms that indicate vitamin K deficiency.
What Is Vitamin K?
Vitamin K is an essential nutrient that the body requires regularly but in small amounts. This vitamin is required for the formation of the coagulation factors, protein C and protein S – all of which work together to clot the blot to prevent excessive bleeding when injuries to the blood vessels occur.
There are two forms of vitamin K: vitamin K1 and vitamin K2:
Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone: This natural form of vitamin K comes from vitamin food such as leafy green vegetables consumed in the diet.
Vitamin K2 or menaquinone: This comes from animal-based diets such as egg yolks and butter, and is also created by bacteria present as normal flora in the intestines.
The Importance of Vitamin K
Both vitamins K1 and K2 are fat-soluble. Typically, an adult has a week’s worth of vitamin K stored in the liver and fat tissue. They both produce proteins that help in blood clotting and prevent excessive bleeding internally and externally when injuries to the blood vessels occur.
Daily Requirements of Vitamin K
The daily vitamin k requirement for males is 120 µg while in females it is 90 µg. If a person is vitamin K deficient, they cannot produce enough blood-clotting proteins. Thus, the risk of excessive bleeding is increased.
Why does Vitamin K Deficiency Occur?
The reasons for vitamin K deficiency in adults are extreme inadequate intake (poor diet), use of coumarin anticoagulants, and fat malabsorption. Vitamin K deficiency is common among breastfed infants. Poor placental transmission, Immature liver for prothrombin synthesis, and low concentration (2.5 µg/L) in breast milk are some of the reasons for vitamin K deficiency in neonates.
Signs & Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency
The most common and the main symptom of vitamin K deficiency is poor blood clotting. This results in:
- Internal bleeding
- Excessive bleeding from wounds, cuts, or tissue lining
- Dark or bloody stools
- Easy bruising
- Blood clots under the nails
- Heavy menstrual periods
If you have several of these symptoms, seek medical help immediately. Your doctor can effectively diagnose, prescribe relevant tests, and treat vitamin K deficiency.