Vitamin K Deficiency: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment
Vitamin K is a very important ingredient for growth of anyone and especially the infants. They are the ones more prone towards deficiency of Vitamin K which results in heavy bleeding caused by an inability to form blood clots. So, what is Vitamin K?
It comes in two forms, the first is known as the Vitamin K-1 or Phylloquinone and is generally found in plants such as spinach and Kale while the other is known as Vitamin K-2 or Menaquinone and is generally found in the body and gets created naturally in the intestinal tract. Both the forms produce proteins which help in the clotting or coagulation of the blood. This prevents excessive bleeding both internally and externally. While its deficiency is very rare, it occurs more in the infants known as VKDB. Its deficiency means a person’s body cannot produce enough of these proteins which increase the risk of excessive bleeding. Certain medications and medical conditions can reduce the production of Vitamin K and make our body deficient in it.
What are the causes of Vitamin K deficiency?
As illustrated earlier, certain medical conditions and medications impact the production of Vitamin K production. Some of the causes include the intake of anticoagulants which prevents blood clots but inhibit Vitamin K activation. Some antibiotics can also interfere with Vitamin K production and absorption. Due to adulteration, it might be that the supply of Vitamin K from the foods is inadequate or the person has taken more doses of Vitamin A or E which also affects adversely on the activation of Vitamin K.
Some people diagnosed with Vitamin K deficiency may get into a condition that can result in the body being unable to absorb fat properly. This condition is known as Fat Malabsorption. People with that condition may also carry Celiac Disease or Cystic Fibrosis or an intestinal or Biliary Tract disorder or have part of their intestine removed.
Why are Infants more prone to Vitamin K Deficiency?
There can be various reasons as to why the newborn babies are more prone towards Vitamin K Deficiency. These can arise from drinking breast milk which is low in Vitamin K or Vitamin K transfer from mother’s placenta to her baby has been altered. This may also happen when the newborn baby’s liver is unable to use Vitamin K efficiently or its gut cannot produce Vitamin K2 in the first few days of the life. It is recommended by the dieticians that the pregnant women should consume no more than 90mg of Vitamin K through their daily diet. Foods that are high in Vitamin K include green, leafy vegetables, prunes, and fermented dairy products.
Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency
There are some symptoms associated with Vitamin K deficiency but the main symptom is the excessive bleeding which might not be immediately evident as it only occurs if a person is cut or wounded. Additional signs of excessive bleeding can also include easy bruising, small clots appearing under the nails, bleeding in mucous membranes that line areas inside the body. The stool may also get dark black, tar-like or may contain blood sometimes. While looking for signs of Vitamin K deficiency in newborn babies and infants, the doctors should look for bleeding from the area where the umbilical cord has been removed, bleeding in the skin, nose, gastrointestinal tract or other areas. The bleeding might also happen at the penis if the baby has been circumcised or sudden brain bleeds which are deemed severe and potentially life-threatening.
If a person has been diagnosed with Vitamin K deficiency, they will be given a Vitamin K supplement called Phytonadione which is usually taken orally though it can also be given as an injection if a person has difficulty absorbing the oral supplement. The dosage given for the treatment depends completely on age and health of the individual. The usual dosage for adults might range from 1 to 25 mg of Phytonadione.