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Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Importance of Vitamin K

The Vitamin K is an important nutrient due to its function in coagulation or clotting of the blood. Vitamin K is stored in Liver, where it helps synthesizes the haemostatic (that arrest and prevent bleeding) and anticoagulant (That inhibit clotting process to maintain normal flow of blood in veins) proteins. The vitamin also appears to have a role in the maintenance of healthy bones, particularly for elderly individuals.

Sources of Vitamin K:
Vitamin K is found in three types namely K1, K2 and K3.
Green leafy vegetables are the best sources of vitamin K1. Foods which are rich in the vitamin include kale, spinach, turnip greens, prunes, avocado, collards, Swiss chard, raw parsley, lettuce, cabbage, broccoli, okra, cauliflower, strawberries, asparagus and mustard greens.

Vitamin K2 is synthesized by the Intestinal Bacteria; other sources of it are cow milk, meat, cheese. It is also found in various oil producing seeds like Soybean, canola, cauliflower and olives. The newborn infants do not possess intestinal bacteria, so are given shots to make up deficiency of Vitamin K.

Importance for Infants: 
The deficiency syndrome is traditionally known as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn or vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB). The lack of this vitamin may cause small hemorrhages in the nose or mouth and even very serious internal bleeding that occur in the first days of life. To overcome this infants are provided with vitamin K administered vaccine; one at birth, another at 3 or 5 days and the last at 4 weeks of life.

Supplementation with vitamin K is necessary for newborns immediately after birth because they do not have the intestinal bacteria to make the vitamin. There is risk that the baby will bleed into the brain without vitamin K supplementation. 

Though breast milk does contain some vitamin K, it does not supply enough to meet the needs of the newborn. Premature babies are at risk for vitamin K deficiency as well, but in general, healthy newborns do not have deficiency of this vitamin. Pregnant women who take medication for seizures should take vitamin K supplementation two to four weeks prior to delivery to reduce the risk that the baby will bleed excessively. 


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