How Vitamin K Works

Vitamin K Supplements

Vitamin K can be found in certain foods, but how do you know how much you need? With vitamin K, a little goes a long way. Supplements of 150 to 500 mg of plant-derived vitamin K are plenty.

It's best to get vitamin K from green leafy vegetables if possible. However, sometimes more vitamin K is needed and in that cases, supplements are given.
Most babies in the U.S. get an injection of vitamin K at birth to avoid hemorrhagic disease, which is characterized by uncontrolled bleeding. Babies depend on this long-lasting injection until vitamin K-producing bacteria become established in their digestive tracts.

Vitamin K is also a concern for persons with heart disease and other disorders than affect clotting. Anticoagulants (blood thinners, such as dicumarol or warfarin) are used in the treatment of
heart disease and other diseases that cause the blood to clot too easily. Blood thinners interfere with the action of vitamin K and slow down the clotting process. People taking anticoagulants may inadvertently reduce the action of the drug by eating vitamin K-rich foods.

Vitamin K supplements are given to babies and heart disease patients.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Vitamin K supplements are given to heart disease patients and patients
with other diseases that can affect clotting.

Vitamin K from food and bacteria is not toxic. However, the synthetic form of vitamin K, menadione, can be toxic. Large doses of this form break down red blood cells and can lead to a jaundice condition and possibly even brain damage when given to infants or pregnant women. If you wanted to find the best deals on vitamin K supplements, click here.

The body needs vitamin K to help with its blood clotting. Luckily, vitamin K in in abundance -- it comes from the foods we eat, including produce such as broccoli and lettuce, and about one-third of our vitamin K comes from the bacteria living in our digestive tracts, which produce this vitamin as a by-product of their own metabolism. In some cases, such as for newborn babies, additional vitamin K supplements are required. However, no matter what the intake method is, vitamin K is a crucial part of the body's blood regulation and assists with bone strength.

Vitamin K deficiencies can be debilitating, but not getting enough of the following vitamins can also cause issues:
  • Vitamin A is the vitamin found in carrots that improves eyesight. Learn more about this key vitamin in How Vitamin A Works.
  • Vitamin B3, also called niacin, assists other substances in the conversion of protein, carbohydrate and fat into energy. Learn more in How Vitamin B3 Works.
  • How Vitamin C Works will show you how this vitamin can strengthen your immune system.
  • Discovered only about 60 years ago, Biotin assists in several metabolic reactions. Learn more about it in How Biotin Works.
  • Vitamin B12 has a a chemical structure much more complex than that of any other vitamin. Learn about this vitamin How Vitamin B12 Works.
  • To learn about the many vitamins in our diet, how much you should be eating, and where to find them, go to our general Vitamins page.

Jennifer Brett, N.D. is director of the Acupuncture Institute for the University of Bridgeport, where she also serves on the faculty for the College of Naturopathic Medicine. A recognized leader in her field with an extensive background in treating a wide variety of disorders utilizing nutritional and botanical remedies, Dr. Brett has appeared on WABC TV (NYC) and on Good Morning America to discuss utilizing herbs for health.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.