Vitamin K Deficiency

Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that can be stored in the fatty tissue. It is also called clothing vitamin because it plays a significant role in blood clothing. Limited reserves of this vitamin are maintained in the liver where it helps forming a constituent of blood, prothrombin, which produces clotting.

The recommended dietary allowance varies between 5-65 mg/day depending on age and gender. Rich sources of Vitamin K are spinach, broccoli, Brussels, lettuce, sprouts and cabbage. Some portion of this vitamin is also supplied by living bacteria in the intestine of human body. If the adequate amount of vitamin is not consumed, it leads to the deficiency of Vitamin K. This deficiency interferes with the synthesis of prothrombin and results in defective coagulation and potentially, bleeding.

Vitamin K deficiencies are caused due to extremely inadequate intakes, fats malabsorption, chronic illness, alcoholism, abdominal surgeries, cystic fibrosis, inflammatory bowel disease, liver diseases and use of drugs or anticoagulants that interfere with the synthesis of prothrombin.

Deficiency of Vitamin K is uncommon in adults because they can store reserves of the vitamin through dark green vegetables. It occurs only in acute cases of severe health disorder or use of anticoagulants.

Vitamin K deficiency symptoms in adults include heavy menstrual bleeding, gastrointestinal bleeding, presence of blood in urine, nosebleeds, anemia, gum bleeding, bruising, prolonged clotting time and liver cancer.

Infants are more prone to this deficiency because breast milk is low in Vitamin K and neonatal liver is immature with respect to synthesis of prothrombin. Sterile neonatal gut and poor transmission of lipids and Vitamin K from the placenta contributes to the deficiency symptoms of Vitamin K. The deficiency can cause hemorrhagic disease, also known as Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding, accompanied with intracranial and retroperitoneal bleeding. In extreme cases, it leads to spontaneous bleeding from brain, eventually leading to child mortality.

To reduce child mortality, it is very essential to prevent hemorrhagic disease in new born infants. The deficiency can be prevented by using injections of 5mg phylloquinone. Adults are also treated with oral doses of phylloquinone to curb the deficiency symptoms.