Vitamin K, derived from the German word “Koagulationsvitamin”, is found in leafy Brussels sprouts, broccoli, and green vegetables, broccoli. All over the world, many forms of vitamin K are used as medicine, including vitamin K1 (phytonadione) and vitamin K2 (menaquinone). However, vitamin K1 is the preferred form of vitamin K as it is stronger, less toxic, works faster, and effective for treating certain health conditions.
Vitamin K is very effective for blood clotting and it is often used to reverse the problems associated with “blood thinning” medications when taken in high doses. The vitamin also curbs clotting problems in babies who lack enough vitamin K. In fact, vitamin K treats bleeding brought on by medications such as antibiotics, sulfonamides, salicylates, quinine, or quinidine.
Vitamin K has shown to be helpful for treating and preventing vitamin K deficiency, a condition in which the body lacks adequate vitamin K. It prevents and treats osteoporosis (weak bones) and alleviates itching that often comes with a liver disease known as biliary cirrhosis.
When applied on the skin, vitamin K helps to remove scars, spider veins, bruises, burns, and stretch marks. It is also used to treat a skin condition called rosacea that causes redness and acne on the face. Also, after surgery, vitamin K is used to hasten skin healing and minimize bruising and swelling.
The Health Benefits of Vitamin K
Vitamin K is a vital vitamin that is needed for blood clotting in the body and other important functions.
Let’s take a closer look at the other benefits of vitamin K.
Prevents Bleeding in Newborns with Hemorrhagic Disease
Giving newborns vitamin K1 by mouth or as an injection into the muscles can help inhibit bleeding problems in them
Prevents Vitamin K-Dependent Clotting Factors Deficiency (VKCFD)
Taking vitamin K by mouth or injecting it by IV helps curb bleeding in people with VKCFD.
Stabilizes Blood Clotting in People Taking Warfarin
Taking vitamin K1 by mouth or as in injection into the vein can counteract excess anticoagulation caused by warfarin. However, taking vitamin K along with warfarin appears to help regulate blood clotting in people taking warfarin, particularly those who have low vitamin K levels.
Treats and Prevents Bleeding Problems in People with Inadequate Blood-Clotting Protein Prothrombin
Taking vitamin K1 as an injection into the vein or by mouth can be effective for treating bleeding problems in people with low levels of prothrombin caused by certain medications.
Lowers the Risk of Developing Breast Cancer
According to some studies, when high amounts of vitamin K2 are incorporated into our diets, it significantly lowers the risk of developing breast cancer.
Treats Heart Disease
Studies have shown that a higher dietary intake of vitamin K2 is linked with a lower risk of a cardiovascular condition such as coronary calcification, which happens when the inner lining of the coronary arteries develops a layer of plaque. It also lowers the risk of death resulting from coronary heart disease. Dietary vitamin K2 can be gotten from meat, cheese, and other milk products. As a matter of fact, supplementation with vitamin K1 may prevent or reduce the risk of coronary calcification.
Improves the Health of People with Cystic Fibrosis
People with cystic fibrosis can experience low levels of vitamin K because of a poor digestion of fat. Thankfully, taking vitamins A along with vitamins D, E, and K may help improve vitamin K levels in people with cystic fibrosis who find it difficult digesting fat.
Some studies indicate that taking a multivitamin that contains vitamin K1 may not lower the risk of developing diabetes as much as taking a normal multivitamin.
Lowers High cholesterol
There is some evidence that vitamin K2 might help lower cholesterol level in people on dialysis with increased cholesterol levels.
Side Effects and Precautions
- When taken in the right quantity daily, vitamin K is considered safe for pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. However, it is not advisable to higher amounts of vitamin K without consulting your healthcare professional.
- Vitamin K is not effective for treating clotting problems resulting from chronic liver disease. As a matter of fact, too much of vitamin K can worsen clotting problems in these people.
- The form of vitamin K called vitamin K1 may be safe for children when taken by mouth or injected into the body in the recommended amount.
- The form of vitamin K called vitamin K1 may be helpful in lowering blood sugar levels in people who are diabetic. If you are diabetic and take vitamin K1, it is advisable to closely monitor your blood sugar levels.
- People with minimized bile secretion who take vitamin K might need to take supplemental bile salts along with vitamin K to boost the absorption of vitamin K.
- High doses of vitamin K can be harmful if you are receiving dialysis treatments caused by kidney disease.
Although it is rare in adults, vitamin K deficiency can still occur if the body is unable to properly absorb vitamin K from the intestinal tract. This may be as a result of the presence of certain diseases such as lack of nutrient absorption and gastrointestinal disorders, including (Crohn’s disease, cystic fibrosis, and celiac disease), hemodialysis treatment, long-term intake of medications like blood thinning medications and certain antibiotics that affect vitamin K metabolism. Some of the signs and symptoms of vitamin K deficiency are bruising and excessive bleeding.
Also, in newborn babies, vitamin D deficiency can happen in the early weeks as a result of low vitamin K transportation across the placenta. Deficiency may cause a condition known as “vitamin K deficiency bleeding,” or VKDB, which can occur between the second to twelfth week, especially in exclusively breastfed babies or those with nutrient absorption issues.
The Bottom Line
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin needed in the body for the purpose of blood coagulation and several other activities. Vitamin K is required for calcium binding in the bones as well as for the synthesis of proteins involved in blood coagulation. In fact, vitamin K deficiency can lead to uncontrolled bleeding and weak bones.
While vitamin K may be helpful for treating certain health conditions, self-medicating a condition with vitamin K lead to serious health issues. Therefore, always check with your doctor before taking vitamin K supplements.