By Avanti Upad
Summer 2017 Intern from the Georgia Thrombosis Forum

We are often told to eat a healthy and nutritious diet from a young age because it makes sense, but are we ignoring something else also very vital for our overall health and well-being? Consistency and the phenomenon of routine proves the existence of a balanced diet and ensures a longer, healthier, and happier life.

The basics involving staying hydrated by drinking lots of fluids and eating a balanced diet and are recommended because they are the easiest ways to prevent the most avoidable cause of death. These basics will prevent blood from becoming more viscous and promote overall blood flow to all organs of the body. The recommended daily intake of water is six to eight eight-ounce cups. Incorporating fruits and vegetables in one’s meals highly benefits cardiovascular health.

With diet in mind, Vitamin K is not often the first thing that comes to a patient’s mind after being diagnosed with thrombosis. It should be remembered that Vitamin K is a supplement needed for the body, providing protein synthesis, calcium, and strength for the bones. In addition, Vitamin K also it plays a significant role in blood clotting. It helps the blood clot, preventing excessive bleeding. Unlike many other vitamins, vitamin K is not typically used as a dietary supplement.

Vitamin K is a group of compounds, the most important of these compounds being Vitamin K1 and Vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is obtained from leafy greens and some other vegetables. Vitamin K2 is a group of compounds largely obtained from meats, cheeses, and eggs, and synthesized by bacteria. Vitamin K1 is the main form of vitamin K supplement available in the U.S. Recently, some  researchers have looked to vitamin K2 to treat osteoporosis and steroid-induced bone loss, but the research is conflicting. At this point there is not enough data to recommend using vitamin K2 for osteoporosis.

Vitamin K builds proteins within the body, which can cause clotting if a patient is taking warfarin. Vitamin K and warfarin work in opposite ways, where Vitamin K increases the chance of blood clots while warfarin works against it to decrease these chances. It is important to be aware that a drastic change in intake of Vitamin K can alter the International Normalized Ratio (INR) range of values dramatically, so it is vital to maintain the same amount of Vitamin K intake for the given dosage of an anticoagulant. Foods rich in this vitamin include kale, spinach, cabbage, and most leafy green vegetables. Talking to a physician about the proper amount of intake is recommended to prevent fluctuation of INR levels because each individual has a different serving working appropriately with their diet, whether it be low or high amounts of these foods. Low levels of vitamin K can raise the risk of uncontrolled bleeding. While vitamin K deficiencies are rare in adults, they are very common in newborn infants. A single injection of vitamin K for newborns is standard. Vitamin K is also used to counteract an overdose of warfarin.

While vitamin K deficiencies are uncommon, you may be at higher risk if you:

  • Have a disease that affects absorption in the digestive tract, such as Crohn’s disease or active celiac disease
  • Take drugs that interfere with vitamin K absorption
  • Are severely malnourished
  • Drink alcohol heavily

At the end of the day, it is important to be aware that your diet and intake of vitamins plays a significant role in the risk for blood-clotting as well as if you are diagnosed with a blood-clotting disorder or condition. Eating the correct amounts of foods containing Vitamin K according to your health conditions is the best way to maintain a healthy lifestyle.