Vitamin K: The Nutrient Which Helps In Blood Clotting
Blood clotting, also known as coagulation, is an important body process that prevents excessive bleeding upon injury of blood vessels. Platelets and plasma proteins work together to help your blood clot, but nutrients play a key role. So which vitamin helps in blood clotting? The answer is vitamin K!
Vitamin K is a group of fat-soluble vitamins that play a role in bone metabolism and regulating blood calcium levels, apart from helping your blood clot. The body needs vitamin K to produce prothrombin, a protein and clotting factor that is important in blood clotting and bone metabolism. The deficiency of vitamin K can lead to excessive bleeding and easy bruising.
Vitamin K, unlike other vitamins, is not typically used as a dietary supplement but is naturally present in various fruits and vegetables. The body requires this nutrient in small, regular amounts. The most important kinds of vitamin K compounds are K1 and K2. Vitamin K1 or phylloquinone is obtained from plants i.e., vegetables. Vitamin K2 or menaquinone is a group of compounds largely obtained from cheeses, eggs, meat, and fermented products.
How Vitamin K Helps In Blood Clotting?
Vitamin K plays an important role in blood coagulation. Clotting is a process that prevents excessive bleeding both inside and outside the body. Vitamin K helps make proteins that are needed for blood clotting. Prothrombin is a vitamin K-dependent protein directly involved with blood clotting, hence sufficient intake of vitamin K is very important.
Tip:Vitamin K is important to make prothrombin, a protein that helps blood clot.
Other Benefits Of Vitamin K, Which Helps In Blood Clotting
As mentioned, vitamin K is essential for other body processes too. Here are some of them.
Osteocalcin is a protein that requires vitamin K to produce healthy bone tissue and prevent the weakening of bones. Thus, vitamin K plays an important role in building bones. Several studies have suggested that vitamin K supports the maintenance of strong bones, improves bone density and decreases the risk of fractures. In addition, a study also shows an association between high vitamin K intake and reduced risk of hip fracture in men and women.
Increased blood levels of this vitamin help in blood clotting have been linked with improved episodic memory in older adults. Episodic memory is very important as it refers to long-term memory that involves conscious recollection of previous experiences together with their context, in terms of time, place, associated emotions, etc.
Studies were done to research the role of vitamin K in maintaining a healthy heart to prove that the nutrient helps prevent mineralization, i.e., build-up of minerals in the arteries. This further helps the body to maintain low blood pressure, enabling the heart to pump blood freely through the body. Vitamin K is involved with the production of matrix Gla proteins (MGP), which help prevent calcification or hardening of heart arteries, a contributor to heart disease.
Tip:Vitamin K offers several other health benefits like strong bones, better cognitive health, and improved heart health.
How Much Vitamin K Does One Need?
Since the body is not able to produce a sufficient amount of vitamin K, a certain amount must be taken through the diet. Adults need approximately 1 microgram of vitamin K a day for each kilogram of their body weight. The amount of vitamin K you need also depends on your age and sex. Average daily recommended amounts of this vitamin which helps in blood clotting are listed below.
Tip:Your daily requirement of vitamin K depends on your age, gender, and weight.
Deficiency Of Vitamin K, The Nutrient Which Helps In Blood Clotting
Apart from insufficient dietary intake, the most common causes of vitamin K deficiency are inadequate absorption and decreased storage of the vitamin due to liver disease. The deficiency of this vitamin which helps in blood clotting may also be caused by decreased production in the intestines.
Vitamin K deficiency in adults is rare, as most of the foods we eat contain adequate amounts of K1, and because the body makes K2 on its own. Also, the body automatically recycles its existing supply of vitamin K. However, certain conditions and some drugs can interfere with vitamin K absorption and creation, such as antibiotics.
Vitamin K deficiency is much more common in infants, leading to a condition called vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). Newborn infants are at increased risk for vitamin K deficiency for a variety of reasons like breast milk being low in vitamin K, vitamin K not transferring well from the mother’s placenta to the baby, liver of the newborn not using the vitamin efficiently, and also because newborns don’t produce vitamin K2 on their own in the first few days of life. Newborns normally receive a vitamin K injection to protect them from bleeding in the skull, which could be fatal.
A healthy body needs vitamin K in order to produce the proteins that go to work during the clotting process. If you’re vitamin K deficient, your body doesn’t have enough of these proteins, so bleeding too much is one of the symptoms of deficiency of this vitamin which helps in blood clotting. In cases of unexpected and excessive bleeding, a prothrombin time (PT/INR) is the main laboratory test performed to investigate the bleeding. If the result is prolonged and is suspected to be due to low levels of vitamin K, then vitamin K will often be given by injection.
Tip:Vitamin K deficiency can be caused by insufficient dietary intake, inadequate absorption, decreased storage due to liver disease, or decreased production in the intestines.
FAQs: Which Vitamin Helps In Blood Clotting
Q. Can one suffer from health risks if a high amount of vitamin K is consumed?
A. According to research done on vitamin K so far, no adverse effects associated with its consumption from food or supplements have been reported in humans or animals. If you are taking vitamin K supplements, follow the instructions given by your doctor and you’ll be good to go. Further studies are underway.
Q. Are there any side effects of taking oral vitamin K supplements?
A. Side effects of oral vitamin K at recommended doses are rare. But one shouldn’t take vitamin K supplements without consulting a healthcare professional as other drugs have shown tendencies to interfere with this nutrient. These medicines include antacids, blood thinners, antibiotics, aspirin, and drugs for cancer, seizures, high cholesterol, etc.
Q. What are the symptoms of vitamin K deficiency?
A. Common symptoms of deficiency of this vitamin which helps in blood clotting are easy bruising, oozing from nose or gums, small blood clots underneath fingernails, dark black stool that contains some blood, heavy menstrual periods, bleeding from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract, and blood in the urine. In infants, symptoms like bleeding from the area where the umbilical cord is removed, bleeding in the skin, nose, GI tract are seen. Bleeding in the brain is extremely dangerous and can be life-threatening.