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9 Symptoms Of Vitamin K Deficiency You Should Look Out For

Signs Of Vitamin K Deficiency

Vitamin K plays an important role in blood clotting. Increased bleeding or bruising, blood in vomit, stool, and urine, heavy menstrual bleeding may indicate a deficiency. Babies with a deficiency maybe excessively sleepy or fussy. Low levels may also increase risk of osteoporosis, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, so watch out for signs of these as well.

Whenever you get a cut, scrape, or a deep gash, your body’s blood-clotting mechanism kicks into action. And there’s a vital nutrient that steps in to support this complex process. Vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting and also helps keep your bones healthy.

A daily intake of 120 mcg of vitamin K is considered adequate for men while women need 90 mcg. A variety of foods such as spinach, broccoli, kale, blueberries, cheese, meats, soybeans, and eggs can get you the necessary vitamin K, so tank up on these.

While vitamin K deficiency is rare among healthy adults, some people are vulnerable. For instance, people with medical conditions such as ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, and short bowel syndrome may not be able to absorb vitamin K normally. If you’ve been on antibiotics or anticoagulants for a long time or are on a stringent or poor diet, a vitamin K deficiency is more likely. Newborn babies are also at a higher risk for vitamin K deficiency.1 Here’s a look at some signs that may indicate that you are falling short of this important nutrient.

1. Increased Bleeding And Bruising

Since vitamin K’s primary role is in the clotting of blood, bleeding is one of the main symptoms of a deficiency. It can happen inside or outside the body. Outwardly, you may see bleeding gums and have frequent nosebleeds. You may also find that even minor wounds or cuts bleed excessively. Bleeding into the skin may also result in bruises.2 Babies may ooze blood around the umbilical stump or have bruises around the head or face.

2. Blood In Vomit

Bleeding in the stomach can sometimes cause you to throw up and there may be blood in your vomit.3

3. Heavy Menstrual Bleeding

Women with a vitamin K deficiency may experience heavy menstrual bleeding. If your periods last for longer than a week or if you need to change your pad or tampon after less than a couple of hours, it’s considered to be excessive. It’s also a cause for concern if you have blood clots that are about as big as a quarter or bigger. Heavy menstrual bleeding may also lead to anemia and cause symptoms like weakness and tiredness.4

4. Blood In The Stools And Urine

Blood in your stool or urine is another indication of a vitamin K deficiency. You might notice blood in your stool or spotting on your toilet paper. Sometimes stool may appear tarry. Meanwhile, blood in your urine can turn it red, pink, or a dark brown color. Many other conditions can also be responsible for blood in your stool or urine, so do see a doctor to figure out what’s causing it.5 6

5. Sleepiness And Vomiting In Babies

Pale skin and pale gums may be a sign of vitamin K deficiency in babies.7


In severe cases, a deficiency of vitamin K may result in bleeding around or in the brain of babies. And this might make them extra fussy or excessively sleepy. Vomiting and even seizures may be seen in babies with a vitamin K deficiency.8

6. Weak Bones

Apart from these, several medical conditions are also associated with low levels of vitamin K and their signs may function as a red flag. Vitamin K is involved in bone building and low levels of this important nutrient have been associated with poor bone density. In fact, research shows that a higher intake of vitamin K is linked to a lower risk of hip fracture.9 Experts suggest that a deficiency in this vitamin can reduce bone mineralization and contribute to osteoporosis. Some indications of osteoporosis include back pain, loss of height, stooping, and fractures that occur too easily.10

7. Chest Pain And Palpitations

Some research indicates that a higher intake of vitamin K is associated with a lower risk of coronary heart disease.11 Vitamin K may play a part in preventing the calcification of blood vessels and thus stop them from becoming narrow and stiff. Chest pain is one of the most common signs of coronary heart disease. This pain can be triggered by stress or physical activity and may spread to your neck, arms, back, jaw, or stomach. Symptoms like breathlessness or heart palpitations can also be indicative of this condition.12

Studies have also found that people with low levels of vitamin K have a higher chance of developing type 2 diabetes and that increasing your intake of vitamin K can lower your risk for this condition. Initial research also indicates that vitamin K can potentially improve insulin resistance and glucose metabolism.13 Symptoms of diabetes can include increased urination, feeling excessively thirsty, tiredness, blurred vision, and unexpected weight loss. You may also find that cuts or wounds take longer to heal if you have diabetes.14

9. Joint Pain And Inflammation

Another medical condition that is linked to vitamin K deficiency is osteoarthritis. It is thought that vitamin’s K role in regulating bone mineralization may account for this.15 Osteoarthritis causes inflammation and pain in joints and may also limit range of movement. People suffering from this condition may experience stiffness and pain when they don’t move for a while and their joints may appear more “knobbly” than normal.16

References   [ + ]

1. Vitamin K. National Institutes of Health.
2, 11. Vitamin K. Oregon State University.
3. Vitamin K. Merck Manual.
4. Bleeding Disorders in Women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
5. Blood in urine. National Health Service.
6. Blood in stool. Healthdirect, Australia.
7. Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding. CDC.
8. Vitamin K Deficiency Bleeding in the Newborn. University of Rochester.
9. Vitamin K. Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
10. Osteoporosis symptoms. Healthdirect Australia.
12. Coronary heart disease. National Health Service.
13. Ibarrola-Jurado, Núria, Jordi Salas-Salvadó, Miguel A. Martínez-González, and Mònica Bulló. “Dietary phylloquinone intake and risk of type 2 diabetes in elderly subjects at high risk of cardiovascular disease–.” The American journal of clinical nutrition 96, no. 5 (2012): 1113-1118.
14. Type 2 diabetes. National Health Service.
15. Misra, Devyani, Sarah L. Booth, Irina Tolstykh, David T. Felson, Michael C. Nevitt, Cora E. Lewis, James Torner, and Tuhina Neogi. “Vitamin K deficiency is associated with incident knee osteoarthritis.” The American journal of medicine 126, no. 3 (2013): 243-248.
16. Osteoarthritis. National Health Service.

Disclaimer: The content is purely informative and educational in nature and should not be construed as medical advice. Please use the content only in consultation with an appropriate certified medical or healthcare professional.