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Anemia & Vitamin K

author image Nadia Haris
Nadia Haris is a registered radiation therapist who has been writing about nutrition for more than six years. She is completing her Master of Science in nutrition with a focus on the dietary needs of oncology patients.
Anemia & Vitamin K
Vitamin K is found in foods such as kale and other leafy greens. Photo Credit: CREATISTA/iStock/Getty Images

Vitamin K plays a key role in normal blood clotting. This is important to prevent excess bleeding, which can lead to anemia, a condition that causes fatigue, weakness and dizziness. The University of Maryland Medical Center notes that vitamin K is so vital in blood clotting that newborn babies are given injections of this essential nutrient.

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Vitamin K and Blood Clotting

Your body's blood-clotting mechanism is a complicated chain of reactions that involve several proteins and the mineral calcium. Vitamin K helps to activate an enzyme that jump-starts this process. It also binds to proteins that keep it moving; without this vitamin, normal blood clotting would not occur. The liver produces the proteins and enzymes that bind to vitamin K, hence liver damage can also lead to uncontrolled bleeding.

Iron-Deficiency Anemia

Iron-deficiency anemia is the type that is linked to vitamin K. In this common condition, your body does not have enough erythrocytes, red blood cells that contain hemoglobin, an iron-rich protein that carries oxygen. According to the American Society of Hematology, anemia is diagnosed with a blood test of less than 12 grams of hemoglobin per deciliter in women and 13.5 grams per deciliter in men. Iron-deficiency anemia is usually caused by blood loss, poor nutrition or inadequate absorption of iron.

Causes of Vitamin K Deficiency

It is rare to have a vitamin K deficiency; the vitamin is found in plant and animal-based foods and synthesized by the bacteria in your gut. Your body can also store this fat-soluble vitamin. Low levels of vitamin K are caused by poor nutrition or a disorder of the intestines that stops it from being absorbed properly. The Linus Pauling Institute notes that medications such as antibiotics can also reduce levels because they kill the healthy bacteria that produce vitamin K.

Recommended Dosage

Steamed greens and roasted meat are packed with vitamin K; heating does not break down this nutrient, but freezing foods can destroy it. Rich sources of vitamin K include dark green lettuce, kale, spinach, cabbage, asparagus, turnip greens, beef liver and green tea. The University of Maryland Medical Center recommends a daily dosage of 90 to 120 micrograms of vitamin K for adults.

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