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Vitamin K Sources, Benefits, and Deficiencies

Vitamin K is one of the important fat-soluble vitamins that plays significant role in blood coagulation. Our body stores vitamin K and other fat-soluble vitamins in fatty tissues. Vitamin K deficiencies are rare in practice; however, it is mostly prominent as one of the apparent side effects of long-term antibiotic treatment.

Sources of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is abundant in green leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce. Cauliflower, kale, cabbage, and broccoli are one of the important vitamin K sources. Green leafy vegetables satisfy almost half of the dietary needs of vitamin K supplements. Apart from that, vitamin K is plenty in wheat bran, organic meats, cereals, kiwis, avocados, bananas, meats, dairy products, eggs and other soy products.

Chicken egg yolk, cow liver, butter and cheese offer you plenty of vitamin K1, an essential dietary form of vitamin K. It is also known as phylloquinone. It is also available in mayonnaise.

Functions of Vitamin K

Vitamin K functions at different levels in our body system. It significantly affects the blood coagulation process occurred in the liver. An active haemostatic nutrient vitamin K offers a whole host of benefits in treating anticoagulant-induced prothrombin deficiency. Vitamin K functions as a coenzyme in the production of gamma-carboxylic enzymes. It also aids in translating inactive precursors into active coagulation elements.

Vitamin K consists of anti-osteoporotic property. But the exact mechanism is not yet clear. Essentially, there are two types of proteins found in the bones. These proteins largely depend on vitamin K content. These are crucially important in bone mineralization. Hence, vitamin K is responsible for bone strengthening.

Vitamin K also possesses antioxidant property. Hence it protects body and skin to fight against free radicals. Synthetically produced vitamin K has anti-tumor property.

Deficiencies of Vitamin K

Vitamin K deficiencies may occur to any one; however, newborns are highly susceptible in developing such deficiencies. Breast milk is typically not sufficient to fulfill the nutritional needs in many cases, so is true in the case of vitamin K. As much as 20 percent of the total requirement for vitamin K is supplied with breast milk. In general, infants are born having low level of vitamin K in their body. In addition, they do not possess any vitamin K producing bacteria within their intestine. Quite obviously, their digestive tracts are germ-free. This inevitably results in a variation of vitamin K deficiencies. This condition is known as hemorrhagic disorder for infants. If an infant is suffering from this condition, he or she may start experiencing continuous bleeding underneath the skin. However, it is indeed an atypical case and occurs 1 among 100 infants. In rare occasion, it causes mortality as well.

Although vitamin K deficiencies are not common among adults, it is quite apparent among people suffering from health conditions that avert from fat absorption in the body. These health conditions include cholestasis, cystic fibrosis and celiac disease. People suffering from fistula, obstructive jaundice, Crohn’s disease, intestinal bypass, and steatorrhea are on high risk of vitamin K deficiency. Adults on prolonged antibiotic treatment may suffer from vitamin K deficiencies. It is mainly occurred due to the fact that antibiotics kill the essential germs living within the digestive tract. In fact, intestinal bacteria fulfill the daily needs for vitamin K. Vitamin K deficiencies may result in bleeding gums or infected skin area.


Typically, vitamin K deficiencies are not of a concern for the mass. However, infants and young children are always at high risk. Green vegetables, dairy products, eggs, soy products, canola oil and olive oil are good source for vitamin K and help in preventing vitamin K deficiencies.


Till date, no adverse effect has been reported against the usage of vitamin K, even when it is used in mega dosages. However, synthetic production of vitamin K may cause negative effects, if used in larger dosages. The toxic effects may result in various health complications such as kernicterus, hemolytic anemia and hyperbilirubinemia.


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