That May Result from a Vitamin K Deficiency
Many of the features of common
chronic disorders, especially connective tissue disorders, are identical
to the symptoms of vitamin K deficiencies. Is this a coincidence, or could
vitamin K deficiencies be an often overlooked factor in many disorders
currently attributed to genes or other causes?
I've been diagnosed with a
variety of overlapping inherited connective tissue disorders that all
have bleeding problems as symptoms, yet all of my bleeding problems stopped
when I changed my diet to get more vitamin K. I've been to many doctors
throughout my life, including a hematologist, for my bleeding problems,
yet I was never tested for a vitamin K deficiency. I learned about vitamin
K from nutrition books and doing my own research on the Internet. It does
make me wonder how many other people there are who have bleeding problems
caused by an undiagnosed vitamin K deficiency, an easily correctable condition.
Note: High vitamin
K intake can interfere with anticoagulant medication. Remember to check
with your doctor before making any diet or supplement modifications, especially
if you are on anticoagulants.
of Vitamin K Deficiencies
Vitamin K is known to be needed
to coagulate blood and to maintain proper bone density. It plays a key
role in proper development of the fetus. Deficiencies of vitamin K have
been linked to:
(blood in the urine)
of soft tissue, especially heart valves (See my section on Calcium
Deposits for more on this topic).
Birth defects linked directly to vitamin K deficiencies include:
of the nose, mouth and mid face
The following birth defects
have been linked to anticonvulsant
drugs, which block vitamin K:
Flat nasal bridge
Variety of craniofacial abnormalities
Neural tube defects
Long, thin overlapping fingers
Upslanting palpebral fissures
Distal digit hypoplasia (shortened pinkie fingers)
Also see my sections on:
Overlooked Causes of Heavy Menstrual Bleeding for more information on
bleeds: Overlooked Causes and Remedies for Epistaxis
Pain from Vitamin K Deficiency
Vitamin K Deficiencies Occur
Human intake of vitamin K comes
from two main sources - our diets and synthesis from
intestinal bacteria. Vitamin K deficiencies can be caused by a variety
of factors. These include:
- Not consuming enough vitamin
K from one's diet can contribute to a deficiency. Dietary vitamin K
is highest in leafy green vegetables such as lettuce, kale, broccoli
and collard greens. These are foods that many people don't eat frequently.
- A diet with high intakes
can block vitamin K. Salicylates are found in foods such as nuts,
fruits, spices and mints. Aspirin is a salicylate. Blocking vitamin
K is why aspirin can "thin" the blood - it basically keeps
blood from coagulating. This is why too much aspirin may be a factor
in bleding related health issues such
(nose bleeds), as well as brain
and intestinal bleeding.
Regular aspirin use may raise the risk of bleeding strokes in healthy
study from Oxford University found that large numbers of older people
suffered from bleeding in the brain when they took aspirin or other
antithrombotic drugs. Another study from the Wolfson Institute of Preventive
Medicine in London found that aspirin use caused a
risk of serious bleeding in men with high blood pressure.
can cause bleeding problems from vitamin K deficiencies. Antibiotics
destroy not only harmful digestive tract bacteria, but also the beneficial
intestinal bacteria that is needed to create vitamin K. In order to
replace the beneficial intestinal bacteria after a course of antibiotics
it is often recommended to eat yogurt with active cultures or have to
take probiotic supplements containing acidophilus. In the U.S.
You can usually get
the supplements at most drug stores or health food stores. The refrigerated
kind is often best because the cultures last the longest when they have
been kept cold.
bacteria after antibiotics is standard conventional medical advice in
many European countries, but does not seem to be common medical advice
in the United States.
is important for the production of many nutrients that we keep
our "friendly" colon bacteria active and doing their job; to
aid this process we should minimize our use of oral antibiotics,
avoid excess sugars and processed foods, and occasionally evaluate
and treat any abnormal organisms interfering in our colon, such
as yeasts or parasites."
kefir, and acidophilus milk may help to increase the functioning
of the intestinal bacterial flora and therefore contribute to
vitamin K production."
from "Vitamin K", by Elson M. Haas M.D.
here to read
Dr. Hass' complete article.
- Candida (systemic yeast)
infections have been linked to vitamin K deficiencies. An overgrowth
of candida albicans or other kinds of yeast can crowd out the helpful
bacteria in the digestive tract that make vitamin K. People
who eat a lot of sugary foods, an unusually high proportion of alkaline
foods and/or take
antibiotics tend to be at high risk for Candida infections.
syndromes that prevent the proper absorption of nutrients can cause
vitamin K deficiencies. Celiac disease, an intolerance to gluten, can
cause deficiencies of a wide variety of nutrients, especially vitamin
disease can also cause vitamin K and other deficiencies.
like Warfarin block the action of vitamin K. In turn, vitamin K blocks
the action of anticoagulants. This is why people taking these types
of medications have to limit how much vitamin K they get in their diet.
- High amounts of vitamin
A and/or vitamin E can also block vitamin K. I get nosebleeds whenever
I take a multivitamin or eat one of the popular nutrition bars, even
if I choose one with vitamin K. I think it may be at least in part because
the multivitamins and nutrition bars always contain high amounts of
vitamin A and E--probably too much for someone like me who bleeds easily.
- The bacteria that synthesize
vitamin K thrive in an acidic digestive environment. Antacids, if taken
in sufficient quantity, may cause a vitamin K deficiency, as well as
irritable bowel syndrome and various nutritional deficiencies, because
they neutralize the hydrochloric acid in a person's stomach. Hydrochloric
acid is needed to digest food and create the acidic environment in which
the beneficial bacteria thrive.
(For more information
on this topic, see my section on Acidic
Foods - Alkaline Foods.
study found vitamin
K deficiencies to be common in male alcoholics. (Perhaps not coincidentally,
born with fetal alcohol syndrome share many overlapping borth defects
linked to vitamin K deficiencies.)
- In rats, butylated
hydroxytoluene (BHT), a food preservative, was shown in tests to
induce vitamin K deficiencies. BHT is a common preservative. Many commercial
cereal boxes are sprayed with BHT to extend the shelf life of the product.
K Deficiencies - A Common Link in Connective Tissue Disorders?
The primary symptoms associated
with vitamin K deficiencies are osteoporosis and prolonged bleeding times.
Other symptoms that occur frequently in conjunction with osteoporosis
and prolonged bleeding times in connective tissue disorders are mitral
valve prolapse, scoliosis and hypermobility.
studies show all that each of these conditions occur in association
with the other two, and each has been found to occur in association
with prolonged bleeding times.
you look at nutrition as a causative factor, then there are highly
logical possibilities to consider as reasons for these associations.
Mitral valve prolapse, scoliosis
and hypermobility tend to occur in conjunction with each other whether
they occur as an "isolated" conditions or together as features
of defined genetic disorders. In fact, most connective tissue disorders
have scoliosis, mitral valve prolapse and hypermobility as primary features.
But isn't it interesting that these disorders occur together even without
the existence of a "genetic" disorder like Marfan or Ehlers-Danlos
syndrome? It is noteworthy that independent, unrelated studies have found
each of the three conditions to be linked to prolonged bleeding times,
a symptom of vitamin K deficiency. Scoliosis has been linked in many studies
to fractures and osteoporosis, which are also features that can be associated
with vitamin K deficiencies. Interestingly,
flat nasal bridges and underdeveloped mid faces are also signs of many
connective tissue disorders, and they are also known to be caused by prenatal
vitamin K deficiencies.
A study in
Russia found that MVP
frequently occurred in combination with elastic skin, joint hypermobility,
dislocations and occasional bleedings. Common findings of patients
with MVP included hematuria (blood in the urine), nosebleeds, profuse
menstrual bleeding, poor wound healing and gastrointestinal bleeding.
Many patients had more than one of these problems. Investigations revealed
the patients also had platelet aggregation dysfunction, von Willebrand
syndrome, end coagulation disturbances or lack or anomalies of factors
VII, X and II.
Basically, these symptoms linked
to MVP are identical to the symptoms of vitamin K deficiencies. It is
also interesting to note that vitamin K is a cofactor for the synthesis
of blood coagulation factors II, VII, IX and X, three of the four coagulation
factors found to be lacking or having anomalies in people with MVP. I
doubt this is all a coincidence. I suspect a lack of vitamin K is a factor
in some at least some cases of MVP, and that both conditions are often
linked to nutritional deficiencies that may have an inherited component.
A thing of shreds and patches, borrowed unequally from good and
bad ancestors and a misfit from the start.
Ralph Waldo Emerson
I have, or have had, MVP, hematuria,
joint hypermobility, nosebleeds, wounds that took forever to stop bleeding
and menorrhagia. A lot of my relatives, on both sides of my family,
have had many of these same problems. My maternal grandmother had to have
a hysterectomy due to uncontrollable menstrual bleeding, and my paternal
grandmother also had uncontrollable menstrual bleeding. I think I was
doomed from the start to ever have blood that coagulated normally. However,
if I eat enough vitamin K and avoid eating too many foods that block vitamin
K, I'm fine these days. I've been diagnosed with a variety of incurable
genetic disorders in the past, but I wonder if I really didn't just have
a genetic predisposition to be low in vitamin K and related nutrients.
I find it highly unlikely
that the many overlaps between vitamin K deficiency symptoms and connective
tissue disorders are due to random coincidence. I do wonder how many other
people there are who have either had a hysterectomy due to uncontrollable
bleeding, or have been diagnosed with an incurable genetic disorder with
bleeding as a symptom, who really just had a vitamin K deficiency. It
seems like it would be pretty easy to develop a vitamin K deficiency on
a standard American diet, especially considering how commonly antibiotics
and anticoagulants are prescribed these days. I suspect that a vitamin
K deficiency is a common underlying link in many conditions now attributed
solely to genes and other factors.
See my recommended
book list list for other books I found helpful.