Vitamin K and Warfarin.

There are six (6) main types of vitamins:

  • vitamin A;
  • vitamin B;
  • vitamin C;
  • vitamin D;
  • vitamin E;
  • vitamin K.

Each of these vitamins plays an equally important role in maintaining good health. Of these, vitamin K is responsible for ensuring proper blood clothing and for increasing the bone mass which aids in bone development. Naturally, deficiency of vitamin K can lead to slower blood clotting which is not a good sign. However, that does not mean that one should stock up on his vitamin K levels by eating loads and loads of  vitamin K rich foods. This is not advisable because it can in certain cases, lead to the formation of internal blood clots which is a type of blood disorder and one that can prove to be very dangerous. Therefore, those people who by default have very thick blood or those who have been diagnosed with internal blood clots are sometimes advised to use a blood thinning agent known as warfarin. People using this product should always be wary of the vitamin K and warfarin levels in their body.

Regulating Vitamin K and Warfarin Levels in the Body

Warfarin aims at thinning the blood whereas the function of vitamin K is to produce blood proteins that assist in clotting. Some people tend to have unusually thick blood. This can lead to the formation of thrombi or embloi i.e. clots as well as air bubbles in the blood vessels. If this clot grows in size and gets stuck in a vital organ, it can very well become life threatening. In such cases, warfarin is prescribed to serve the purpose of an anticoagulant.  People who are on warfarin therapy should be careful about their vitamin K intake. It should be consistent, i.e it should not drop sharply nor should it rise sharply. A sudden drop or rise in the vitamin K levels can have a contradictory effect on the benefits of warfarin.

Here is a list of foods containing vitamin K which can give you an idea of how to achieve a balance between the vitamin K and warfarin levels in your body.

Vitamin K Foods: Here is a list of vitamin K rich foods which ideally should be avoided or else should be eaten in low or moderate quantity, if you happen to be taking warfarin;

  • spinach and other green leafy vegetables;
  • lettuce and green salads;
  • broccoli;
  • kale;
  • green tea;
  • Brussels sprouts
  • parsley;
  • asparagus;
  • cabbage;
  • spring onions;
  • collards
  • mayonnaise;
  • soybean oil;
  • cranberry juice.

The following is a list of low to moderate quantity vitamin K foods that you can eat while on warfarin therapy:

  • most high fiber fruits such as apples, bananas, oranges, peaches, etc;
  • eggs, cheese and butter;
  • spaghetti;
  • breads;
  • tomatoes and potatoes;
  • mushrooms;
  • corn;
  • carrots;
  • pumpkins;
  • beans;
  • chicken, pork , beef and ham.

For a person undergoing warfarin therapy, it is very important to consistently monitor your vitamin K and warfarin levels. The best way to do so is to consult your doctor (and a dietician if necessary) about what you can eat and in  what amounts.

By Parashar Joshi (2009)

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