Vitamin K is essential for normal blood clotting, which means that ingesting more of this vitamin could counteract several common bleeding disorders and ailments.
Bleeding disorders occur when the body’s natural clotting process is interrupted. Some are present at birth, while others are caused by other factors like disease, infection, drugs or a deficiency in certain vitamins and nutrients. Without our body’s clotting ability, we could quite literally bleed to death.
Common Bleeding Disorders
- Anemia – Anemia is a condition in which blood levels have been significantly depleted or iron in the blood is low, causing a person to experience weakness, fatigue, coldness, shortness of breath, or temporary mental dysfunction due to reduced oxygen to the brain. A person who is anemic has likely lost a lot of blood, possibly due to compromised clotting ability. A vitamin K deficiency could be partially to blame.
- Von Willebrand’s Disease (VWD) – VWD is a hereditary disease affecting about 2% of the entire world population, in which the blood has difficulty clotting due to the absence of the von Willebrand clotting factor. Because of easy bruising and the tendency to bleed longer that often occurs with this disease, VWD is often mistaken for the less common hemophilia.
- VWD may first show signs of its presence through frequent nosebleeds, skin rashes, heavy menstrual flow or easy bruising, but only a doctor can test the blood and make an accurate diagnosis. Again, vitamin K may help the blood to clot and lessen the amount of blood loss that occurs with VWD.
- Hemophilia – Hemophilia is a predominantly male hereditary disease in which blood clotting factors VIII and IX are missing. As a result the patient bleeds longer, bleeds internally and into joints, bruises easier, has blood in urine and feces, bleeds spontaneously, has swollen and painful joints, and could potentially die.
- Purpura – Purpura are dark purple or red clustered spots on the skin that occur as a result of internal bleeding. They are often the result of blood clotting issues, which vitamin K can help.
- Heavy Menstrual Flow – Heavy blood flow during menstruation is sometimes a symptom of an underlying bleeding disorder. Every one of the conditions listed above are usually accompanied by heavy menstrual flow, so pay attention if this occurs with you and see your doctor for testing.
Vitamin K deficiency could be a factor in each of these conditions, and while more extensive treatment is probably needed, you can at least do your part through nutrition.
Natural Sources for More Vitamin K
Vitamin K is readily available in many of the foods we eat, including dark, green leafy vegetables (like watercress, spinach and kale); cabbage, cauliflower, avocado, grapes, kiwi, cucumbers, beans, meat, dairy foods and eggs. The recommended daily amount is between 90 and 120 mcg.