Vitamin K deficiency can occur in any age group and exists when chronic failure to eat sufficient amounts of vitamin K. It results in a tendency for spontaneous bleeding or in prolonged and excessive bleeding with trauma or injury. Vitamin K deficiency can result in bleeding gums, and in skin that is easily bruised. The protein in the body most affected by vitamin K deficiency is a blood-clotting protein called prothrombin.
Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting. Without the vitamin, even a small cut would cause continuous bleeding in the body, and death. Blood clotting is a process that begins automatically when any injury produces a tear in a blood vessel. The clotting factors are proteins. These proteins require vitamin K for their synthesis in the body. The blood-clotting process also requires a dozen other proteins that do not need vitamin K for their synthesis.
When Vitamin K deficiency occurs, it is found in people with diseases that prevent the absorption of fat. These diseases include cystic fibrosis, celiac disease, and cholestasis. Vitamin K deficiency can exist in adults treated with antibiotics that kill the bacteria that normally live in the digestive tract. Because the intestine-bacteria supply part of our daily requirement of vitamin K.
Vitamin K is an essential lipid-soluble vitamin that plays a vital role in the production of coagulation proteins. Vitamin K is also synthesised by colonic bacteria.
Vitamin K is also very important for bone health. Because vitamin K is involved in gamma carboxylation of osteocalcin, which is important in bone synthesis, osteoporosis is associated with Vitamin K deficiency. Its deficiency shows up as bone-related problems like loss of bone (osteopenia), decrease in bone mineral density (osteoporosis), and fractures including hip fractures. Vitamin K deficiency is thought to cause impaired activation of bone matrix protein osteocalcin, and reduction of osteoblast function, resulting in impaired bone formation.
Deficiency of vitamin K leads to a reduction in the prothrobin content of blood. If you are deficient in vitamin K, you will suffer from blood clotting as gum bleeding, nose bleeding, and easy bruising. Symptoms and signs of vitamin K deficiency further include bleeding within the digestive tract and blood in the urine.
Other prominent signs and symptoms of vitamin K deficiency are prolonged clotting times, hemorrhaging, and anemia. Deficiency of vitamin K can also lead to Alzheimer’s disease.
Hardening of the arteries or calcium-related problems are the other common signs of vitamin K deficiency. So are biliary obstruction, malabsorption, cystic fibrosis, and resection of the small intestine.
Vitamin K deficiency can be prevented by consuming an appropriate diet.
Vitamin K is found in green leafy vegetables and oils, such as olive, cotton seed, and soya bean. Other foods rich in vitamin K are green peas and beans, watercress, asparagus, spinach, broccoli, oats and whole wheat.