Understanding Vitamin K

Overview

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble group of vitamins that is comprised of the K vitamins: K1, K2, K3, and K4. Vitamin K is the most famous for its role in the clotting of blood. However, there is increasing evidence that it is involved in other roles that are beneficial, such as possibly enhancing bone formation in men and women, as well as possibly reducing high cholesterol levels in peritoneal dialysis patients.

Absorption

Bile salts and pancreatic juice are necessary for the absorption of vitamin K from the upper small intestine.

Dietary Origins

Best sources of vitamin K are spinach and salad greens. Good sources also include the following: broccoli, brussel sprouts and certain cheeses. Most individuals can acquire the necessary amount of vitamin K from a healthy diet.

Health Conditions

People with clotting disorders controlled by medications such as warfarin, may have this condition disrupted by consumption of additional supplementation of vitamin K.

Side Effects

If the injectable form of vitamin K is to be given, it should be administered subcutaneously (SC) or just under the skin. Intravenous (IV) administration has resulted in severe reactions that have resulted in death.

Age Limitations

Vitamin K taken in high doses has caused jaundice in newborns and premature infants.

Functions in the Body

Blood Clotting

  • The presence of vitamin K in the body is vital for numerous clotting factors. Vitamin K converts specific precursors into active coagulation factors.

Osteocalcin Activation

  • Vitamin K is necessary for the synthesis of osteocalcin, a unique protein in bone, which attracts calcium to bone tissue. Osteocalcin modulates the discharge of calcium into bone matrix.

Symptoms & Causes of Deficiency

Vitamin K deficiency is very rare, however more common in newborn infants. It can cause hemorrhaging and death when a deficiency does occur. Deficiency symptoms include easy bleeding, inability to stop bleeding and skeletal disorders such as rickets, osteoporosis, and osteomalacia.

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