Vitamin K deficiency: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
How to Get Vitamin K
Vitamin K plays important roles in many of the organs and processes of the body, including blood clotting, bone metabolism, and vascular health. Having a deficiency is rare because beneficial bacteria in our intestines make vitamin K, but it is possible. The recommended daily requirement for healthy adults is 100 – 200 mcg/day — luckily, it is easy for most people to meet this requirement.
Getting Vitamin K from Food Sources
Eat leafy greens.Leafy greens are an excellent source of vitamin K. Some greens that contain large amounts of vitamin K are kale, mustard greens, collard greens, and spinach.
- You don’t need to eat very much of these greens to get your vitamin K. An average serving of green vegetables has about 600% of your recommended daily intake.
- For most leafy greens, 1 cup raw greens (1/2 cup cooked) is considered a serving.
- You can get vitamin K from greens whether they’re cooked or raw; however, some nutritionists believe that raw greens deliver the most nutrients.
Get vitamin K from herbs.You can get vitamin K from fresh or dried herbs. You’ll need to eat more than you might usually if you’re trying to get a lot of vitamin K in your diet. Some of the best sources are basil, thyme, sage and parsley.
- For most herbs, you’ll need to eat between 1 and 2 tablespoons of the dried herb to get your recommended daily intake.
- You can make recipes that use lots of a specific herb to up your intake. For example, you can make pesto with basil or tabouleh with parsley.
Eat scallions.Scallions, also known as spring onions, are another great source of vitamin K. They can be eaten raw or cooked and are great in a variety of dishes.
- Scallions are inexpensive and can be found in your local grocery store.
- You can eat both the green and the white parts of scallions.
Getting Vitamin K from Supplements
Take a multivitamin.Multivitamins are great because they give you your recommended daily dose of many nutrients. Ask your doctor if taking a daily multivitamin would be good for you.
- Some multivitamins might not contain vitamin K, so check the label before you buy.
- There are multivitamins available for specific groups, such as children, pregnant women, and senior citizens.
Take a vitamin K supplement.You can also find vitamin K on its own. Look for vitamin K supplements at your local natural food store, health center, or pharmacy. Always talk to your doctor before taking a new supplement.
- If you don’t see vitamin K at your local store, you can order the supplements online.
Get a vitamin K shot if needed.For people with a severe vitamin k deficiency, doctors may prescribe a vitamin K shot. This is a way to get plenty of vitamin K without having to rely on the digestive system to process it.
- If you’re concerned that you won’t be able to get vitamin K any other way, a shot may be your best bet.
Relying on Your Body’s Natural Vitamin K
Determine how much vitamin K you need.Most people’s bodies actually manufacture plenty of vitamin K. If you regularly eat a balanced diet and you don’t have any gastrointestinal ailments, you’re probably getting enough vitamin K. Some signs that you have a deficiency can be:
- Easy bruising
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Excessive menstrual bleeding for women
- Blood in the urine
- People most at risk for vitamin K deficiency are people with chronic malnutrition, alcohol dependency, and people whose bodies have a problem with the regular absorption of vitamins.
Limit vitamin K-rich foods if necessary.Some people actually need to limit the amount of vitamin K they consume. If you are taking prescription anticoagulants, which are meant to interfere with the role of vitamin K, you’ll need to keep your dietary intake of vitamin K purposefully low and consistent day to day.
- If you’re on prescription anticoagulants, don't take vitamin K supplements.
Let the body produce vitamin K.The reason vitamin K deficiency is rare is that the bacteria in your intestines will make it for you. Sometimes taking antibiotics when you’re sick or have an infection will kill these bacteria, which can lead to a mild or temporary deficiency. However, even this is most common in people whose levels of vitamin K were already low.
- Eating fermented foods such as yogurt, kombucha, and miso or taking oral probiotic supplements can help boost the bacteria in your gut if they’ve been depleted by antibiotics.
QuestionWhat green vegetables are high in Vitamin K?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerArtichokes, arugula, asparagus, broccoli, brussel sprouts, green beans, cabbage, celery, cucumber, kale, and bell peppers.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are some vegetables that contain vitamin K?Community AnswerKale, broccoli, scallions, cucumbers, and Brussels sprouts are all rich in vitamin K.Thanks!
If you need to get more vitamin K in your diet, eat at least 1 serving a day of leafy greens, like kale, mustard greens, and spinach. You can also get your recommended daily intake of vitamin K by eating 1-2 tablespoons of basil, thyme, sage, and parsley. Oral probiotic supplements and fermented foods like yogurt, kombucha, and miso may encourage your body to make its own vitamin K. If you’re still concerned you’re not getting enough vitamin K, take a multivitamin or supplement containing vitamin K once a day.
Video: Vitamin K shot: Is it safe?
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