There are several different types of vitamin K but together they play an important role in body function and general health. Vitamin K1 is the natural plant form of vitamin K, and is the type of vitamin we consume in food. Vitamin K2 is made from bacteria in the human gut, although in relatively small doses. Vitamin K is essential for normal clotting of blood. A deficiency in Vitamin K has an adverse affect on liver function and may lead to excess bleeding.
Foods rich in Vitamin K include peas, spinach, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and asparagus. Fruits such as pears, grapes and apricots are also good sources of Vitamin E.
There are no recommended daily requirements for Vitamin K in the UK or Europe. In the United States, the RDA for Vitamin K is 1mcg per kilogram of weight. For example, a 70kg woman should consume 70mcg of Vitamin K each day.
A deficiency of Vitamin K is uncommon because most of what we need is produced by the gut. However, in some cases where the intestines are damaged or due to an underlying illness such as cystic fibrosis, the body is unable to absorb Vitamin K.
A lack of Vitamin K reduces the ability of the blood to clot effectively which can be particularly problematic in babies and young children. The main symptoms of Vitamin K deficiency are bleeding from the nose, mouth, skin, intestine and urinary tracts.
It's also worth noting that antibiotics can kill of the bacteria in the gut that Vitamin K develops from. So care must be taken when taking antibiotics for a prolonged period of time. Talk to your GP if you are concerned.
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