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8 health risks of vitamin K deficiency

India Webportal Private Limited 18-03-2015 Shraddha Rupavate –
8 health risks of vitamin K deficiency 8 health risks of vitamin K deficiency

8 health risks of vitamin K deficiency

Vitamin K, commonly known for its blood clotting function, is often overlooked in the presence of other vitamins, mainly because our body can synthesise sufficient amount of vitamin K and we can also obtain it abundantly from food sources. Vitamin K deficiency is quite unlikely in a healthy population and is mainly seen in newborn babies, people who take rigorous antibiotic therapies and who those who suffer from digestive disorders. Although rare, vitamin K deficiency could cause serious to life-threatening complications. Here are 8 such health risks its deficiency poses.

1. Bleeding: The main role of vitamin K is to help in blood clotting. Hence with low levels of vitamin K, you’ll always be at a risk of heavy bleeding after suffering an injury. Women with vitamin K deficiency could experience heavy menstrual bleeding. Minor things like gum injury or a nose bleed could also turn into a complication.

2. Under-developed fetus: Pregnant women with low levels of vitamin K could be harming their babies. Vitamin K cannot be transported easily across the placental barrier, so there are more chances of deficiency in the fetus. Vitamin K plays a very important role in overall development of the baby and its deficiency could cause internal bleeding of the fetus, damage to the skull of the fetus, malformed fingers and deformed facial features.

3. Vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) in infants: Newborn babies are at a risk of vitamin K deficiency mainly because their intestine is not colonised with useful bacteria that have the ability to make vitamin K. Its deficiency in infants may result in a life-threatening bleeding disorder called vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB) of the newborn caused by insufficient activity of coagulation factors that require vitamin K for proper functioning.

4. Osteoporosis: Vitamin K also plays a role building bone strength, especially in postmenopausal women. In fact, people suffering from osteoporosis are often given vitamin supplements. It not only improves bone mineral density but also helps to reduce the risk of fractures due to osteoporosis.[1,2]

5. Varicose veins: A study published in the Journal of Vascular Research showed that lack of vitamin K could be the possible reason behind varicose veins (painful and swollen veins that bulge out, mainly in legs)[5].

6. Cardiovascular diseases: Although additional studies need to be carried out confirming the link between vitamin K deficiency and heart disease, some studies have shown that people with lower levels of vitamin K are at a higher of cardiovascular diseases.

7. Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD): A study reviewing the status of vitamin K in people with CKD found that the prevalence of vitamin K deficiency in people with CKD was high indicating that poor levels of vitamin K could be the reason behind kidney disease[3].

8. Alzheimer’s disease (AD): Vitamin K undoubtedly plays a role in overall human development including the brain. As more and more evidence highlighting the functions of vitamin K in mental health accumulates, scientists propose that vitamin K deficiency could add to the pathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease.

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