A vitamin K deficiency is not common in the Netherlands, but that does not alter the fact that it can have unpleasant consequences for those who suffer from it. It is therefore important to know what vitamin K is, what it does and where it occurs. This way you can maintain your vitamin level and prevent any vitamin K deficiency symptoms.
If you follow a balanced diet according to the guidelines of the Nutrition Center, there is little chance that you have a vitamin K deficiency. If you notice that you suffer from several complaints, some several foods and supplements can help you get your vitamin K level up to par. You can read in this article which complaints can often be linked to a deficiency, and which supplements and foods you can use.
What is Vitamin K?
First of all, you have vitamin K1. This is also called phylloquinone. This type is found in plant substances, including green leafy vegetables.
Second, there is vitamin K2. This vitamin is produced by your body itself in your intestines and works in the same way as vitamin K1. A vitamin K deficiency therefore mainly occurs when you get too little phylloquinone.
The effect of vitamin K
Vitamin K has multiple functions that are important for the health of your body. First of all, it ensures that your body produces proteins that clot blood. This is very useful if you have a wound. After all, the blood clots faster. In addition, vitamin K can help to reduce/remove blood clots, so that your blood flows better.
This vitamin may also help build and repair the bones in your body, according to several scientists. However, more research is needed for this, but the results so far are promising.
The relationship between vitamin K and the coronavirus
Since the beginning of 2020, claims have been made in various places that the consumption of certain foods can prevent you from becoming infected. Although there are of course several measures that you must follow to prevent the risk of infection as much as possible, food cannot ensure that you will not become infected at all. There is now more information about the relationship between vitamin K and corona. This has to do with the healing properties of vitamin K.
A person who has become infected with the coronavirus often has problems with his/her lungs. This is partly because small blood clots are formed in the lungs that limit the functioning of the lungs. A higher vitamin K level can help to reduce blood clots, reducing the risk of serious suffering. Research has now shown that people with serious complaints often also have a lower level of vitamin K in their blood.
Although vitamin K cannot prevent you from becoming infected with the virus, it can help make recovery easier.
Risk groups vitamin K deficiency
Although a vitamin K deficiency is not common, several risk groups are more likely to have a vitamin K deficiency than other groups. These groups are:
Newborn Babies: Since their bodies are very sensitive to damage and bleeding, babies need extra vitamin K. They also have much less blood than an adult person, so small bleeding can quickly lead to bigger problems if it does not clot quickly enough.
People who have been taking antibiotics for a long time: Antibiotics can get in the way of the action and production of vitamin K so that your body does not have enough in stock to clot bleeding in time.
Pregnant women: People who carry a child need extra nutrients anyway because they have to keep a whole new body healthy. Since babies need extra vitamin K to stay healthy, it is important that pregnant women also take extra of this vitamin to prevent a vitamin K deficiency.
People who use blood thinners: Blood thinners have the opposite effect of vitamin K, so these two substances can stand in the way of each other. When you use blood thinners, it is therefore important to discuss with your doctor whether you will have to take extra vitamin K supplements.
People with chronic intestinal diseases: Chronic intestinal diseases can lead to your body absorbing less vitamin K and making vitamin K2. Because this often happens without you realizing it, you can suddenly suffer from a vitamin deficiency. It is essential to keep a close eye on your vitamin K intake if you suffer from intestinal diseases.
Adult men need about 120 micrograms of vitamin K per day and adult women 90 micrograms. Babies up to 12 weeks, however, need a minimum of 150 micrograms of vitamin K per day. This is often already added to bottle feeding.
Common Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms
A vitamin K deficiency can arise for several reasons. It may be the case that you unknowingly have not eaten enough vegetables that contain this vitamin, but it is also possible that there has been a sudden change in your physical health so that you now need something extra. Whatever the reason for a vitamin K deficiency, you can recognize this deficiency by the symptoms below.
More prone to bruising
Since vitamin K usually protects your body from bleeding and repairs it quickly, one of the vitamin K deficiency symptoms is that internal and external bleeding is less likely to heal. As a result, bruising is more likely to occur when you bump yourself or make a clumsy movement.
Small blood clots/scabs under nails
Because your body suffers from bleeding faster, these also arise under your nails. However, this happens in such small amounts that the blood dries up quickly. This can result in small blood clots under the nails that feel uncomfortable.
Small bleeding in the mucous membranes
Your nose, mouth, throat, and genitals are sensitive places where the mucous membranes can be damaged quickly. It is therefore often the case that someone with a vitamin K deficiency suffers from bleeding while brushing their teeth or when they touch their nose.
Because there is also more internal bleeding, this all ends up in your stool. When you go to the toilet afterward, you will notice that your stools are darker in color. This is a sign that there is blood in your stool.
Symptoms of Deficiency in Babies
With babies, there are a few extra points to keep in mind. In them, a vitamin K deficiency can manifest itself in other ways:
Bleeding at the umbilical cord
Because the umbilical cord in the womb is an important connection between mother and child, cutting the umbilical cord after birth can lead to bleeding around the navel. In the end, it remains a wound that has to heal, but when the child has a vitamin K deficiency, this happens much more slowly.
Small sudden bleeds all over the body
Babies have very sensitive skin; especially after they have been safely in the womb first. If they also have a vitamin K deficiency, it often happens that they can suddenly suffer from bleeding in different parts of the body.
Bleeding in the brain
The most severe symptom of a vitamin K deficiency in babies is bleeding in the brain. This can quickly arise when the child falls over or hits his/her head. Fortunately, this is very rare, but it is an important point to pay attention to. Therefore, always protect your child's head, regardless of the situation.
Research has shown that it is very important for babies to get enough vitamin K in the first 12 weeks after birth. Breastfeeding alone is often not enough for this, so parents are advised to use supplements in drop form or formula food in addition to breastfeeding.
Nutrition and supplements with vitamin K
Fortunately, the answer is very simple: because this is a vegetable vitamin, you can find this substance in many different vegetables. There are also other ways to combat a vitamin K deficiency. The products with the highest vitamin K content can be found below.
The largest source of vitamin K is vegetables, which mainly include green leafy vegetables. Cabbage tops the list with 817 micrograms of vitamin K per 100 grams of cabbage. Then come mustard leaves, kale, and beets. Brussels sprouts and broccoli also contain a lot of vitamin K per 100g, so a balanced diet with at least 200 grams of vegetables every day is enough to raise your vitamin K vegetable level.
Fruit contains natural as well as vitamin K. Plums and kiwis in particular contain a lot of this nutrient. Prunes are also good for your bowel movements because they are full of fiber. If you suffer from chronic intestinal diseases, it can therefore help to eat a little more prunes. Then you know for sure that you will not quickly develop a vitamin K deficiency.
Although vitamin K is mainly found in plant foods, it is also found in meat. However, this is mainly vitamin K2, the same vitamin that your body makes. Most vitamin K is obtained from the liver. This is because the liver is a major processor of this vitamin. Vitamin K is also found in pork chops. Make sure you have a good balance between the vegetable vitamin K1 and the animal vitamin K2, you need both for a healthy body.
The cheese will not quickly provide you with enough vitamin K to maintain your body, but it does provide a good addition to your daily diet. A hard cheese, such as an Old Amsterdam, easily contains 25 micrograms of vitamin K per 30-gram serving. Add this to the vegetables you eat that day, and you have enough vitamin K to keep your body healthy!
5. Vitamin K Supplements
If you want to be sure that you are not at risk of a vitamin K deficiency, you can take supplements as a supplement to your daily diet. These vitamin K supplements often contain 150 micrograms of vitamin K per dose. You are supposed to take these vitamin K supplements orally and they often come in drop form, but there are also pills and capsules with this vitamin.
Prevent a vitamin K deficiency summarized
Vitamin K is a vitamin that you get both through food and that your body makes itself. There are two types of vitamin K, vitamin K1: the substance that occurs in vegetable products, and vitamin K2: the substance that you make yourself and that you get from animal products. You need both variants for a healthy body.
Vitamin K makes proteins that help your blood to clot when bleeding occurs. It also helps your blood flow better to other places. Research has now shown that a good vitamin K level can contribute to an easier recovery in case of infection with the coronavirus.
A vitamin K deficiency is uncommon, but several risk groups are more likely to develop a vitamin K deficiency. These include babies, people who take long-term antibiotics, and people with chronic intestinal diseases.
If you suffer from a vitamin K deficiency, you can usually recognize this by various symptoms, including the appearance of small bleeding all over the body. However, you can quickly solve this by eating more foods with a high vitamin K content, such as cabbage, broccoli, kiwi, liver, and hard cheese. You can also use supplements to supplement your daily diet.
Do you take blood thinners or have you been taking antibiotics for a long time? Then it is wise to first contact your doctor before increasing your daily vitamin K intake through food or supplements.