We don’t hear much about Vitamin K Deficiency because it is uncommon. But it does exist and it is good to know the signs of this vitamin deficiency and understand why it can occur.
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, so poor absorption, or malabsorption, of fat in the digestive tract can factor into a deficiency of vitamin k.
Excessive amounts of other fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin A or E, may also interfere with vitamin K action. And there has been shown to be a relationship between Vitamin K and Vitamin D with regard to calcium-binding proteins in the kidneys and bones.
Fats act as carriers of the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K) and carotenoids, allowing them to be absorbed during digestion. Without adequate fats, the body would begin to show deficiency symptoms like blood clotting problems, vision disturbances and weak bones.
Some specific illnesses that contribute to Vitamin K deficiency include pancreatic disease, celiac disease, and gallbladder disease, as these can cause fat malabsorption. Also, chronic malnutrition or conditions that limit the absorption of dietary vitamins such as biliary obstruction, short bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, cystic fibrosis, regional enteritis, or intestinal resection (specifically of the terminal ileum, where fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed) can also lead to a vitamin K shortfall.
Individuals on vitamin K antagonist anticoagulant drugs, those with significant liver damage or disease and people on long-term antibiotic use are also at risk of a shortage of vitamin K.
Most rare, those who have an inherited bleeding disorder are also at risk of deficiency.
Vitamin K deficiency symptoms can include easy bruising and bleeding, sometimes manifested as nosebleeds, blood in stool or urine, bleeding gums, tarry black stools or extremely heavy menstrual bleeding. Impaired blood clotting, often demonstrated by laboratory tests that measure clotting time, is the more overt symptom.
But deficiency of vitamin K is rare, as
- This vitamin is found across a wide variety of foods
- The vitamin K cycle conserves vitamin K, and
- The bacteria that normally populate the large intestine synthesize Vitamin K (as K2).