Vitamin K Deficiency
Vitamin K deficiency is rare in adults because many of the foods we eat contain adequate amounts of K1, and because the body makes K2 on its own. Plus, the body is good at recycling its existing supply of vitamin K. Vitamin K deficiency is most common in infants, especially those who are breastfed. The deficiency can cause bleeding; therefore, all newborns should be given a vitamin K injection. In infants, the condition is called VKDB, for vitamin K deficiency bleeding.
What is Vitamin K ?
Vitamin K is an essential, fat-soluble vitamin. Initially discovered for its role in blood clotting, it also prevents artery hardening, brain damage, and bone loss.Vitamin K is known as the clotting vitamin. Without it, blood would not clot.
Types of Vitamin K –
Vitamin K has two forms –
• Phylloquinone: This form occurs in plants and is consumed in the diet. It is absorbed better when it is consumed with fat.
• Menaquinone: This form is produced by bacteria in the intestine, but only small amounts of it are produced.
Daily requirements and sources of vitamin K –
The recommended dose of Vitamin K that adults should fulfill is –
• 120 micrograms (mcg) for males
• 90 mcg for females
Foods that are high in vitamin K includes –
• green leafy vegetables, including spinach, kale, lettuce, and broccoli
• vegetable oils
• some fruits, such as blueberries and figs
• meat, including liver
• green tea
People can also take vitamin K supplements. It is best to talk to a doctor before taking these as they could interfere with existing medications.
The main symptom of vitamin K deficiency is poor blood clotting, resulting in –
• Excessive bleeding from wounds or tissue lining
• Internal bleeding
• Bruising easily
• Heavy menstrual periods
• Blood clots under the nails
• Dark or bloody stools
In babies, vitamin K deficiency may also involve bleeding –
• Within the skull
• From the umbilical cord stump and penis (if circumcised)
• In the nose, skin, and digestive tract
Vitamin K deficiency can result from the following:
• Lack of vitamin K in the diet
• A very low fat diet because vitamin K is best absorbed when eaten with some fat
• Disorders that impair fat absorption and that thus reduce the absorption of vitamin K (such as blockage of the bile ducts or cystic fibrosis)
• Certain drugs, including antiseizure drugs, and some antibiotics
• Consumption of large amounts of mineral oil, which may reduce the absorption of vitamin K
Newborns are prone to vitamin K deficiency because of the following:
• Breast milk is low in vitamin K
• Vitamin K does not transfer well from the placenta to the baby
• A newborn’s liver is unable to use vitamin K efficiently
• A newborn’s gut cannot produce vitamin K2 in the first few days of life
Risk Factors –
You have a higher risk of deficiency if you are:
• Suffering from a condition that impairs nutrient absorption in the gut, such as celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, or cystic fibrosis
• Taking blood thinners
• Old age
• Hospitalized due to critical illness
• Have chronic kidney disease
• Have cancer
Most likely your doctor will perform coagulation test called the prothrombin time (PT) test to see if a vitamin K deficiency is causing your symptoms. This is a blood test that measures how long it takes for your blood to clot.
The treatment for vitamin K is the drug phytonadione, which is vitamin K1. Most of the time doctors prescribe it as an oral medication. A doctor or nurse might also inject it under the skin (as opposed to into a vein or muscle). The dosage for adults ranges from 1 to 25 milligrams (mg).
In infants, newborns get a single shot of 0.5 to 1 mg vitamin K1 at birth. A higher dose may be necessary if the mother has been taking anticoagulants or anti-seizure drugs.
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