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Vitamin K & the Liver

by
author image Noreen Kassem
Noreen Kassem is a hospital doctor and a medical writer. Her articles have been featured in "Women's Health," "Nutrition News," "Check Up" and "Alive Magazine." Kassem also covers travel, books, fitness, nutrition, cooking and green living.
Vitamin K & the Liver
Vitamin K helps the body form a clot to stop bleeding. Photo Credit Liquidlibrary/liquidlibrary/Getty Images

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble essential nutrient that primarily mediates blood clotting in your body. This vitamin is stored in your liver and fatty tissue and plays a key role in the process of coagulation and anticoagulation. It does this by taking part in the synthesis of protein factors in your liver to control bleeding. Hence, illness or damage of the liver affects vitamin K storage and the production of blood clotting factors, which can lead to excess bleeding.

Effects

The primary role of vitamin K is in the blood clotting process in your body. This vitamin can interact with blood thinning medications and may be given as an injectable supplement if you have a bleeding condition. The Merck Manuals note that it is also given to newborn babies to ensure that blood clotting problems do not occur. Vitamin K also helps maintain your bone and skin health.

Liver Effects

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble nutrient and is stored in your liver and fatty tissue. Your liver is also vital in helping your body absorb vitamin K from the foods you ingest. This occurs because your liver produces and secretes bile into your small intestine where it digests and absorbs fats as well as vitamin K and other fat-soluble vitamins. Hence, the University of Maryland Medical Center states that liver disease can result in impaired vitamin K absorption and storage in the body. Additionally, your liver requires vitamin K to produce most of the blood's clotting proteins.

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Deficiency Symptoms

The main symptom of a deficiency of vitamin K in the body is excess or uncontrolled bleeding that can lead to a hemorrhage. This can be life-threatening, particularly in newborn babies that may not have enough vitamin K. The Merck Manuals state that in most regions, newborns are given vitamin K injections to ensure that they have sufficient amounts of this nutrient. Other symptoms of a deficiency of vitamin K include osteoporosis or brittle bones, bruising and swelling.

Sources

Food sources of vitamin K include green leafy vegetables, vegetable oils, cereals, and liver and other meats. Your body also produces its own vitamin K; healthy bacteria that dwell in your large intestine produce this nutrient, specifically a form called vitamin K2, explains Colorado State University. Both ingested and microbial vitamin K are absorbed by your body and stored in your liver and fat tissue where they are consumed for blood clotting and their other uses.

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