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What You Should Know About Vitamin K Deficiency


Vitamin K is essential for blood clotting and bone health. A vitamin K deficiency can lead to excessive bleeding due to the inability of blood clots to form.

The Office of Dietary Supplements(ODS) states that vitamin K deficiency in the United States is extremely rare. People get sufficient vitamin K through their diets. However, newborns can develop vitamin K deficiency.

It is essential that a person who is on a blood thinner such as warfarin receives the same amount of vitamin K every day.

This article will discuss the role of vitamin K in our bodies and the symptoms and treatment for vitamin K deficiencies.

What’s Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is available in two forms:

  • Vitamin K1, or phylloquinone, occurs in leafy green vegetables such as spinach and kale.
  • Vitamin K2 (or menaquinone) is found in animal-based food, such as butter and egg yolks, as well as fermented foods like Kefir. Some of this vitamin is also produced by the intestine.

Vitamin K1 and vitaminK2 both produce proteins that aid blood to clot. External bleeding can be prevented by blood clotting.

Vitamin K deficiencies can lead to excessive bleeding if the body is unable to produce sufficient proteins.

Vitamin K is a good source for adults. It can be found in the food we eat as well as what our bodies naturally produce.

Vitamin K absorption can be affected by certain medications or medical conditions, which can lead to vitamin K deficiency in adults.

Infants are more susceptible to vitamin K deficiency. Vitamin K deficiency bleeding, also known as VKDB, is what it looks like.

Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms

Excessive bleeding is the main sign of vitamin K deficiency. Be aware that bleeding can occur in other areas than the wound or cut site. If someone:

  • Easily bruises
  • Gets small blood clots under their nails
  • Lines around the body are blighted by bleeding in the mucous membranes
  • Produces stool that is dark black and almost like tar. It also contains some blood.

If vitamin K deficiency is found in infants, it may be diagnosed by doctors.

  • The umbilical cord was removed, and there is bleeding
  • Bleeding in the skin, nose, gastrointestinal tract, or other areas
  • If the baby has been circumcised, bleeding at the penis
  • Sudden bleeding in the brain can be life-threatening and extremely dangerous.

Risk Factors And Causes

Vitamin K deficiency is more common in adults than in children.

  • Anticoagulants or blood thinners are used to prevent blood clots and inhibit vitamin K activation.
  • Antibiotics that interfere with vitamin K production or absorption
  • Vitamin K is not enough in the foods we eat.
  • Take extremely high doses of vitamin A and E.

Vitamin K deficiency can be more common in people with certain medical conditions, such as those who are less able to absorb excess fat. This is called fat malabsorption.

Fat malabsorption can be caused by:

  • celiac illness
  • Cystic Fibrosis
  • An intestinal or biliary tract disorder (liver, gallbladder, and bile tubes)
  • A portion of your intestine has been removed during bariatric surgery

There are many reasons newborn babies are more susceptible to vitamin K deficiencies.

  • Vitamin K is very low in breast milk
  • Vitamin K doesn’t transfer well from the baby’s placenta.
  • A newborn’s liver can’t use vitamin K efficiently
  • In the first few days after birth, vitamin K2 is not produced in the baby’s stomach.

Daily Vitamin K Requirements And Sources

The ODS recommends that adults consume the following levels of vitamin K daily:

  • For males, 120 micrograms (mcg).
  • Females: 90 mg

Vitamin K-rich foods include:

  • Green leafy vegetables such as spinach, kale, and lettuce include broccoli, lettuce, and other green leafy veggies.
  • Vegetable oils
  • Some fruits, like blueberries or figs
  • Meat and liver included
  • Cheese
  • eggs
  • Chickpeas
  • Soybeans
  • green tea

Vitamin K supplements can also be taken by people. These supplements can interact with medications, and it is best to consult a doctor before you start taking them.


Vitamin K deficiency can cause many symptoms. The most common symptom of vitamin K deficiency is excessive bleeding.

It is possible for excessive bleeding to not be obvious right away.

Other signs of excessive bleeding include:

  • You can easily bruise
  • Small blood clots under the nails
  • Lines around the body are irritated by bleeds in the mucous membranes
  • Stool that is black, tar-like, or has blood

Doctors will also be looking for the following signs when assessing newborn babies and infants for vitamin K deficiencies:

  • The umbilical cord was removed, and there is bleeding
  • Bleeding in the skin, nose, stomach, or other areas
  • If the baby has been circumcised, bleeding at the penis
  • Sudden brain bleedings are life-threatening and can be fatal.


A doctor will examine a person’s medical history in order to determine if there is a vitamin K deficiency.

A doctor might use a test for coagulation called the prothrombin test or PT test. The doctor will take a small amount of blood and add chemicals to see how long it takes for the blood to clot.

It takes between 11 and 13.5 seconds for blood to clot. It could indicate a vitamin K deficit if it takes longer than that.

Before taking the blood test, it is possible that people will need to avoid high-vitamin K foods.

Vitamin K Deficiency Treatment

Vitamin K1 is treated with the drug phytonadione. It is usually prescribed by doctors as an oral medication. It may also be injected under the skin by a doctor or nurse, as opposed to in a vein or muscle. Adults can take anywhere from 1 to 25 mg (mg).

For people who are taking anticoagulants, doctors will recommend a lower dose of phytonadione. This dosage ranges from 1 to 10mg. This is to prevent a possible complication from anticoagulants interfering in the body’s production of vitamin K.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants receive a single shot of 0.5-1 mg of vitamin K1 at the time of birth. If the mother is taking anticoagulants, anti-seizure medications, or has had to take a higher dose of vitamin K1, it may be necessary to give a second shot.

The Long-Term Outlook On Vitamin K Deficiency

Vitamin K deficiency in adults can lead to excessive bleeding and even death if left untreated. Vitamin K deficiency can be treated in most cases.

The outlook for infants with VKDB can be good if they are quickly treated. If the bleeding continues for too long or is not treated quickly, then brain damage and death may occur.

How Can You Prevent Vitamin K Deficiency?

There is no minimum daily intake of vitamin K. Nutritionists recommend that you consume 120 mcg for men each day and 90 mcg for women. Certain foods, such as leafy green vegetables and spinach, are high in vitamin K, so you can get all the vitamins you need in one meal.

One shot of vitamin K can be given at birth to prevent problems in newborns.

Patients with fat malabsorption conditions should talk to their doctor about vitamin K supplements and have their levels checked. This is also true for those who take warfarin or similar anticoagulants.


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