Why Use Vitamin K Before Surgery?

Surgeon prepping a patient for surgery
Image Credit: XiXinXing/XiXinXing/Getty Images

Before you undergo surgery, you want your body to be in the best possible shape. Your physician may recommend steps such as changing your diet to lose weight and boost your immune system or taking vitamin K supplements to reduce the risk of bleeding. However, before changing any dietary or supplementation habits, talk to your physician to ensure you can safely make these changes.



Vitamin K has the ability to bind with calcium ions in your blood, which helps to initiate clotting factors in your blood. Your physician may recommend taking vitamin K before surgery to help your body clot blood, which can help to prevent excess bleeding during the surgery. The recommended daily intake for vitamin K is 120 mcg per day for adult males and 90 mcg per day for adult females.


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Consuming vitamin K can be harmful if you experience a medical condition that may be endangered by excess blood clots. For example, if you have experienced a heart attack, stroke or pulmonary embolism in the past, your risk for experiencing future blood clots is higher. Your physician may prescribe an anticoagulant medication like warfarin to prevent blood clotting. If you are on warfarin therapy for blood-thinning, taking vitamin K supplements can be extremely harmful to your health. Notify your physician of all medications taken prior to surgery to ensure you are not at higher risk if you take vitamin K.



A study published in the March 2010 issue of "Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis" conducted at the Nouvel Hospital Civil Strasbourg studied the effects of using vitamin K supplementation instead of using a process known as heparin bridging. Heparain is a blood-thinning medication that your physician may recommend slowly reducing in dosage prior to surgery. Patients were given either 1 mg of vitamin K in the weeks prior to surgery or performed traditional heparin bridging. At the conclusion of the study, researchers found that one-third of patients who took vitamin K were at greater risk for bleeding. The researchers found that vitamin K could not replace heparin bridging as a presurgery treatment for those taking anticoagulants.


Physician’s Recommendations

Do not take vitamin K unless your physician recommends it prior to surgery. Some physicians may recommend initiating vitamin K supplementation about two weeks prior to surgery. This time period can ensure your blood has had sufficient time to develop clotting factors.




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