Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that plays a critical role in blood clotting and in bone health.  Vitamin K2 (menaquinone) is a natural form of vitamin K that is synthesized by our normal flora (intestinal bacteria).  The flora produce about 30% of our total daily need of vitamin K.  Vitamin K1 (pylloquinone) is synthesized by green plants, therefore, dark green leafy vegetables are a rich source of vitamin K.  Vitamin K3 (Menadione) is a synthetic version of the vitamin.  It is commonly injected into new born infants.  This is not a practice I recommend.

Signs & Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency:

  • Easy bruising
  • Spontaneous nosebleeds
  • Blood in the urine
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Bone loss (osteopenia)

Vitamin K has been shown to be beneficial in the following conditions:

Drugs/Medications that deplete or interfere with Vitamin K:

  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics: deplete normal flora thus decreasing vitamin K synthesis
  • Coumarin – anticoagulant drugs (warfarin) inhibit vitamin K cycle
  • Bile acid sequestrants – may inhibit absorption of vitamin K
  • Mineral oil – may inhibit absorption of vitamin K
  • Olestra – (food additive) may inhibit absorption of vitamin K
  • Broad-spectrum antibiotics: deplete normal flora thus decreasing vitamin K synthesis
  • Coumarin – anticoagulant drugs (warfarin) inhibit vitamin K cycle
  • Bile acid sequestrants (cholesterol lowering medications) – may inhibit absorption of vitamin K
  • Mineral oil – may inhibit absorption of vitamin K
  • Olestra – (fat substitute food additive) may inhibit absorption of vitamin K

Laboratory testing to detect Vitamin K deficiency:

  • Lymphocyte functional testing
  • Prothrombin time
  • Osteocalcin

Food Sources:

  • Spinach, collard greens, and other dark green leafy vegetables

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