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Vitamin K Deficiency - Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment

Published on Mar 08, 2022   -  5 min read


Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and wound healing. Read this article to know more about vitamin K.


What Is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is a component that exists in two primary forms. They are,

Vitamin K plays a vital role in the clotting of the blood. Blood clotting is the process required to stop excessive bleeding of the blood. If your body is deficient in vitamin K, your blood will not clot after any accident or injury. Excessive blood loss will invite additional complications. So, vitamin K is closely associated with emergencies. Rather than supplementing vitamin K at the last moment, it is advised to maintain an ideal level of vitamin K all the time for a healthy lifestyle. However, vitamin K deficiency is a rare condition because most foods contain vitamin K.

The daily recommendation of vitamin K is,

What Are the Causes of Vitamin K Deficiency?

The following are the causes of vitamin K deficiency.

What Are the Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency?

The most significant symptom of vitamin K deficiency is bleeding from wounds that would fail to clot. The other symptoms of vitamin K deficiency are:

What Are the Advantages of Vitamin K?

The following are the advantages of vitamin K:

What Are the Rich Sources of Vitamin K?

The foods that are rich in vitamin K are:

The daily requirement of vitamin K might vary depending upon the age and health condition.

Who Is at Risk of Vitamin K Deficiency?

How Is Vitamin K Deficiency Diagnosed?

The deficiency of vitamin K requires a few laboratory tests for diagnosis. The doctor might recommend the following tests:

How Is Vitamin K Deficiency Treated?

Vitamin K deficiency can be treated by dietary supplementation with foods that are rich in vitamin K. Vitamin K can be supplied instantly with the help of injections. The uses of vitamin K injections are:

The following are the side effects of vitamin K injection. They are:

If these symptoms continue, it is necessary to visit your doctor as soon as possible to prevent further complications.

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Frequently Asked Questions


Why Does Vitamin K Deficiency Happen?

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. Vitamin K deficiency is rare in adults as our regular diet contains an adequate amount of these nutrients. Our body also recycles the existing supply of vitamin K. However, certain conditions and some drugs can interfere with vitamin K absorption. It is also common in infants.

Some of the causes of vitamin K deficiency include-

- Taking coumarin anticoagulants such as Warfarin.

- Taking anticoagulants.

- Fat malabsorption.

- Malnutrition and intake of a diet lacking in vitamin K.


How to Increase Vitamin K Intake?

The best way to increase vitamin K intake is to eat food sources rich in vitamin K. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) is obtained from plants, especially green leafy vegetables and spinach. Vitamin K2 is of bacterial origin and is present in modest amounts in various animal-based and fermented foods. The bacteria naturally produce them in the gut.


What Are the Risk Factors for Vitamin K Deficiency?

Vitamin K deficiency can occur in the first few weeks after birth due to low placental transfer of phylloquinone, low clotting factor levels, and low vitamin K content of breast milk. It is rare in adults and is usually limited to people with malabsorption disorders. People who are at risk for vitamin K deficiency include-

- Newborns cannot use vitamin K efficiently and cannot produce vitamin K efficiently. Therefore, when not treated with vitamin K at birth, such babies have a deficiency.

- People with malabsorption disorders such as cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, ulcerative colitis, etc.

- Vitamin K can also be low in patients who have undergone bariatric surgery.

- Antibiotics can reduce the vitamin K-producing bacteria in the gut and eventually decrease vitamin K status.

- Certain medications like Warfarin, bile acid sequestrants (drugs used to reduce cholesterol level), Orlistat (weight loss drug).


Which Fruits and Vegetables Are Rich in Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is found in vegetables, especially green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, and some fruits. They include kale, mustard greens, Brussels sprouts, prunes, kiwi, avocado, spinach, parsley (fresh), cabbage, broccoli, beans, peas, lentils, iceberg lettuce, soybean, nuts, blackberries, blueberries, pomegranate, figs, pumpkin, tomatoes, grapes, red currants, and canola oil.


What Happens if You Have Excess Vitamin K?

Vitamin K toxicity is extremely rare, and no toxic dose is noted in the literature. But patients should not take excessive amounts of vitamin K. It can cause jaundice in newborns, hemolytic anemia, and hyperbilirubinemia. In addition, it can block the effect of oral anticoagulants.


Do Eggs Have High Vitamin K?

Eggs contain a fairly good source of vitamin K, and their vitamin content depends on the animal’s diet, and values vary depending on the region and the producer.


What Is the Treatment for Vitamin K Deficiency?

Vitamin K deficiency can be treated using supplements and injections. Dark leafy vegetables are a natural source of vitamin K, and they are advised to be included in the diet. In newborns, a vitamin K shot is administered at birth and especially when the baby has the following conditions, which include-

- Premature delivery.

- Maternal use of antiseizure drugs, anticoagulants, or drugs for tuberculosis.

- Babies who have fat malabsorption.


Which Vitamins Are Responsible for a Blood Clot?

Vitamin K is a group of vitamins the body needs for blood clotting, and it also helps in wound healing. In addition, vitamin K is responsible for preventing bleeding and bone formation. Beyond blood and bone hemostasis, they are involved in various processes such as inflammation, testosterone production, cancer progression, neuroprotective effect, bile acid metabolism, insulin secretion, and type 2 diabetes.


What Is the Role of Vitamin K in the Liver?

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, and it is stored in the fat tissue and liver. They participate in the synthesis of several proteins that mediate coagulation. In addition, the liver synthesizes bile acids, and it plays a critical role in lipid absorption. Therefore, vitamin K requires proper lipid absorption for its own absorption. Liver disease that causes decreased bile salt synthesis leads to impaired vitamin K absorption and deficiency.


Will Vitamin K Raise Blood Pressure and Cause Stroke?

Increased intake of vitamin K can decrease the effectiveness of Warfarin and result in the formation of blood clots, which can increase the risk of heart attacks, strokes, and pulmonary embolism. It is also seen that high levels of dietary intake or genetic predisposition might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease. But sufficient vitamin K intake in the diet may protect against atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease events.


What Should You Avoid While Taking Vitamin K?

Many drugs can interfere with the effects of vitamin K like antacids, blood thinners, antibiotics like cephalosporins, Aspirin, and drugs used for cancer, seizure, high cholesterol, and other conditions. Therefore, it is advised to consult your physician before taking any supplements or medicines.

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Last reviewed at:
08 Mar 2022  -  5 min read




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