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Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms – 5 Signs of Low Vitamin K Levels

Mike Barrett
April 15th, 2013
Updated 05/08/2014 at 11:34 am
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spinachleavesinbowl 263x164 Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms 5 Signs of Low Vitamin K LevelsKnown primarily for helping blood to clot and the promotion of strong bones, vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin that is often ignored — at least compared to some other essential vitamins and minerals. But like all other vitamins, vitamin K is essential for optimal health for numerous reasons. So why is the vitamin so important, and what are some vitamin K deficiency symptoms?

Why You Should Consume more Foods Rich in Vitamin K

As mentioned, the most well known benefit of vitamin K revolves around its role in healthy blood clotting. In the case of a skin wound, for example, blood clotting (and vitamin K) helps the wound to close and prevents excessive bleeding. Additionally, vitamin K helps keep the body’s blood clotting ability at a perfect level. This is useful even if we are not wounded, so that our cardiovascular system doesn’t block a functioning blood vessel by mistake.

But that is not all vitamin K has to offer.

Like calcium, vitamin K has been established as a bone-enhancing nutrient. Multiple studies have found that those ingesting large amounts of vitamin K are at a decreased risk of bone fractures, while individuals deficient in vitamin K are clearly at a greater risk.

There is also evidence that vitamin K helps prevent arterial calcification.

5 Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin K deficiency is quite rare for two different reasons. First, the vitamin is absolutely abundant in leafy green vegetables and some green spices. Secondly, bacteria in your intestine actually make vitamin K on their own. That being said, it’s important to steer clear of antibiotics whenever possible. If you know anything about antibiotics, you know that these medicines destroy all bacteria in your gut (good and bad). In addition to leading to other issues like antibiotic resistance, a sluggish mental state, obesity, and much more, the use of antibiotics also puts you at risk of being deficient in vitamin K (due to bacteria destruction).

So while it’s rare to be vitamin-K deficient, it is still possible. Here are 5 vitamin k deficiency symptoms:

  • Issues related to problematic blood clotting or bleeding: bleeding within the digestive tract, gum bleeding, heavy menstrual bleeding, or hemorrhaging.
  • Easily bruise or bleed.
  • Cartilage calcification.
  • Uncontrollable bleeding at surgical or puncture sites.
  • Brain bleeding in newborns.

Caution: Since newborns don’t have bacteria in the intestine to produce vitamin K, countries like the U.S., Great Britain, and Canada inject newborn babies with vitamin K to prevent bleeding. Unfortunately, this controversial practice may not be a viable solution, and is deemed completely unnecessary by many experts. While the touted benefits of this administered vitamin K dose are understood, though not fully accepted, the immediate infliction of pain after birth can cause psycho-emotional trauma and physiologic instability.

16 Vitamin K-Rich Foods

  • Kale – 547 micrograms per 1 cup, raw (684% RDA).
  • Spinach – 889 micrograms per 1 cup, cooked (1111% RDA).
  • Broccoli – 110 micrograms per 1/2 cup, cooked (138% RDA).
  • Dried Basil and Dried Sage- 34.3 micrograms per tablespoon (43% RDA).
  • Dried Thyme – 42.9 micrograms per tablespoon (54% RDA).
  • Brussel Sprouts – 109 micrograms per 1/2 cup, cooked (137% RDA).
  • Asparagas –  45.5 micrograms per 1/2 cup, cooked (57% RDA).

Some other vitamin-K rich foods are okra, beans, cabbage, collard greens, mustard greens, turnip greens, romaine lettuce, spring onions, and prunes. Check out the USDA Nutrient Database to search for specific foods.

Related Read: 16 Magnesium Deficiency Symptoms

How to Safely Supplement Vitamin K

As you probably know, there are a few different types of vitamin K. The 3 main types are:

  • Vitamin K1 – Also known as either phylloquinone (a natural form of K1) or phytonadione (a synthetic form of K1).
  • Vitamin K2 – Also known as menaquinone.
  • Vitamin K3 – A synthetic form of vitamin K that is also known as menadione.

Vitamin K1 is one of two beneficial forms of vitamin K, and can be found in green leafy vegetables like broccoli, kale, and spinach. These vegetables make up about 90% of our dietary intake of vitamin K. The other beneficial form of vitamin K, vitamin K2, can be found in animal sources, bacteria, and fermented products. Lastly, we have the synthetic form of vitamin K which should be avoided, vitamin K3.

Since vitamin K is so abundant in food sources, and bacteria in your intestine produce vitamin K on their own, there is almost no need to supplement this vitamin. Simply continue (or start) eating more leafy green in order to bypass vitamin K deficiency symptoms.

Additional Sources:


University of Maryland Medical Center


About Mike Barrett:
2.thumbnail Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms 5 Signs of Low Vitamin K Levels Google Plus Profile |Mike is the co-founder, editor, and researcher behind Natural Society. Studying the work of top natural health activists, and writing special reports for top 10 alternative health websites, Mike has written hundreds of articles and pages on how to obtain optimum wellness through natural health.

From around the web:

  • Genevieve L Ferrantino learn about K1 and K2 . It is very important to supplement K2 if you want your child to be healthy and have straight teeth. I wish I would have known this when I had my kids :(

  • bonnielou

    “the immediate infliction of pain after birth can cause psycho-emotional trauma” Imagine how much psycho-emotional trauma circumcision, done without anesthesia, can cause!

  • guest

    question is there a link between gmo kill gut flora, bacteria and bodies abiliaty to convert k1

  • A Lys

    Good article, great commenters. Check out the Weston A. Price foundation and the Food Renegade websites. You are sure to find all the info you need to feed your growing babe. This is # 3 for me coming up without Vit K injection or all those horrid vaccines. Just pastured animal products, local organic veg & real milk. Congrats on educating yourselves.

  • Melanie

    I am currently pregnant (34 weeks) and looking to not have my newborn injected with vitamin K at birth. Anyone have additional info on how much vit K I should be consuming to ensure it passes to my little one in the next few weeks as well ??? Any help would be super appreciated! Thanks

  • HerbGirl

    K2 also helps your body utilize D3.

  • suss

    you forgot aged hard cheeses, and real milk all those vegi's mentioned at least most are goitegenic meaning they hamper your thyroid from using iodine- so even those w/ no thyroid issues if you down a bunch of those vegi's each and every day you'll end up w/ iodine deficiency.

    • joanne

      where could I find more about this? I think too that cheese and butter (the raw-mil matrial) are often underestimated for vitamins, calcium etc.

  • Susan

    Thank you for the article. I would highly recommend the following book for an in depth understanding of Vitamin K2: "Vitamin K2 and the Calcium Paradox." K2 is vastly different from K1, which is found in green leafy vegetables. The bacteria in our gut convert a miniscule amount of K1 into the essential K2. In essence, we need to obtain K2 from our diet and the primary available source of K2 is the fat from animal products (butter, eggs, dairy, meat) who have grazed on pasture/grass, as well as from a Japanese fermented soy product called Natto.
    Ruminant animals are very efficient at converting K1 to K2 in the digestive tract. With humans, this is not the case. As such, "Vitamin K2 deficiency is common and invisible" according to the book's author, Dr. Kate Theaume-Bleue. This is troubling, because we need Vitamin K2 to activate enzymes that drive calcium into our bones and away from our arteries! K2 is a key nutrient in preventing osteoporosis and heart disease.

  • Renard Moreau

    [ Smiles ] I believe that I get a lot of vitamin K since my diet is plant-based.

    Thanks for another great article!