Sunday, May 9, 2010

What can cause a deficiency in vitamin k?

Vitamin K deficiency


Deficiency of vitamin K can be caused by the decreased intake of vitamin K in diet in people who don't eat enough green vegetables. Some diseases and conditions can cause this deficiency: e.g. malabsorption syndrome, liver diseases and diseases that cause obtructive jaundice.
Some medications also can be the cause such as oral anticoagulants, barbiturates, salicylates and taking broad spectrum antibiotics for extended periods of time, as these will kill all the bacteria in the gastrointestinal tract, some of these bacteria are sources of vitamin k in the body.

Symptoms & Signs:

The liver needs vitamin k in order to produce coagulation factors: 2,7,9 and 10. These factors are essential for stopping of bleeding and without them the patient shows manifestations such as:

  • Petichae: purple spots in the skin due to bleeding from small blood vessels.
  • Bleeding in response to trivial traums.
  • Ecchymosis and hematomas.
  • Gum bleeding.
  • Bleeding into a joint cavity (hemarthrosis).
  • May cause inability to stop a massive haemorrhage in severe cases.

Diagnosis & Treatment of vitamin K deficiency:

Blood tests will show normal platelet count and bleeding time with elevation of both prothrombin time and partial thromboplasin time. A factor assay will show low levels of the aforementioned clotting factors. The condition is treated with vitamin k injections or it can be taken orally depending on the severity of the condition.

Also read: Food sources of vitamin D