What is Vitamin K Deficiency


By Dr Manjusha Agarwal in Internal Medicine

When someone has a deficiency of vitamin K, it means they don't have enough of the essential nutrients in their system. Vitamin k has a lot of positive impact on the functioning of the body. However, it is important to understand that vitamin K deficiency results in the disorder of various types. Such as impaired blood clotting, coagulation and so on.

There are many other factors that lead to vitamin k deficiency. A diet poor in nutrients, illnesses affecting vitamin K absorption, or drugs interfering with vitamin K metabolism can all result in vitamin K insufficiency.

Supplementing with vitamin K or addressing the underlying cause of the deficiency are common treatment solutions. You might notice certain symptoms that may indicate vitamin K deficiency. It is very critical to identify the same and consult a doctor to solve the root cause.

Vitamin K Deficiency Symptoms

Vitamin k deficiency diseases can exhibit a wide range of symptoms and potentially have a negative impact on one's health. It's critical to keep in mind that many factors can contribute to vitamin k symptoms. Excessive bleeding, bruising, and difficulties blood clotting are some of the common signs of vitamin K insufficiency.

In extreme circumstances, it may result in potentially fatal situations including internal bleeding or hemorrhage. Thus, it is essential to make sure that you are getting enough vitamin K through a balanced diet or supplements in order to maintain good health. So, identifying these symptoms is essential for quick diagnosis and treatment.

1. Easy Bruising:

People who are vitamin K deficient frequently bruise easily, and the bruises may be larger and more noticeable than usual.

2. Excessive Bleeding:

Excessive bleeding, even from mild traumas, is a sign of vitamin K insufficiency. This can cause serious internal bleeding in essential organs like the brain or digestive tract, recurrent nosebleeds, heavy menstrual bleeding in women, and gastrointestinal bleeding. It is crucial for preserving digestive health.

3. Osteoporosis and Bone Fractures:

Vitamin K is involved in bone health by aiding in calcium regulation. Deficiency can lead to decreased bone density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

4. Delayed Wound Healing:

Slow wound healing and a higher susceptibility to infection may be observed in individuals lacking sufficient vitamin K.

5. Weakness and Fatigue:

Vitamin K deficiency can lead to fatigue and weakness due to its role in energy metabolism.

6. Prolonged Blood Clotting Time:

Vitamin K is essential for proper blood clotting. A deficiency can result in prolonged clotting times, which can be assessed through laboratory tests.

7. Petechiae:

Small, reddish-purple spots on the skin, known as petechiae, may appear due to minor capillary


8. Gum Bleeding:

Bleeding from the gums, especially during brushing or flossing, can be a sign of vitamin K deficiency.

9. Hematomas:

The formation of large, painful hematomas (blood clots under the skin) may occur more easily in individuals with this deficiency.

10. Calcification Disorders:

In rare cases, vitamin K insufficiency can cause abnormal soft tissue calcification, which can result in disorders like pseudoxanthoma elasticum which can also be a hereditary condition. It can damage the body's connective tissues, causing them to calcify.

See Also - Bone and Joint Pain

Vitamin K deficiency causes

Understanding the underlying vitamin k deficiency causes is essential for both prevention and treatment. Vitamin k deficiency results in the disorder leading to various illnesses and conditions. It is advisable to consult a healthcare professional for proper testing. Here are some key factors that can contribute to disease caused by deficiency of vitamin k .

1. Inadequate Dietary Intake:

Vitamin k deficiency is caused by insufficient ingestion of foods high in vitamins. Important dietary sources include broccoli, green leafy vegetables like kale and spinach, and vegetable oils like soybean and canola.

2. Malabsorption Disorders:

A lack of fat-soluble vitamins, such as vitamin K, can be caused by conditions like Celiac disease, cystic fibrosis, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), which damage the lining of the small intestine, reduce nutrient absorption, and stop the digestive system from producing these vitamins.

3. Medications and Antibiotics:

Some medications, particularly long-term antibiotic use, can disrupt the gut microbiome and reduce the amount of vitamin K produced by gut bacteria.

4. Liver Disorders:

The liver plays a key role in vitamin K metabolism and activity. Cirrhosis and other liver diseases, as well as liver failure, which can lead to a vitamin K deficiency, might interfere with this process.

5. Neonatal Vitamin K Deficiency:

Vitamin K deficiency results in the disorder known as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn in infants. Therefore, bleeding can happen to newborns who do not receive a vitamin K injection soon after birth because their newborn bodies do not have enough vitamin K and their gut bacteria have not yet fully developed.

6. Biliary Obstruction:

Bile can't flow normally due to conditions like gallstones and biliary atresia, which can hinder the body's ability to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin K.

7. Certain Medications:

Specific drugs, such as blood thinners known as anticoagulants, such as warfarin, can interfere with vitamin K's function in blood clotting, potentially resulting in bleeding disorders.

8. Poor Nutrient Intake in the Elderly:

Elderly people may be at risk for vitamin K deficiency due to age-related dietary restrictions, decreased nutrient absorption, and medication use.

9. Alcoholism:

The liver's ability to process vitamin K can be negatively impacted by long-term alcohol abuse, which could lead to deficiency.

10. Bariatric Surgery:

Gastric bypass surgery and other operations that alter the digestive system can reduce the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin K.

Diagnosing vitamin K deficiency

A combination of clinical assessment and laboratory tests are used to identify disease caused by deficiency of vitamin k. Once the diagnosis is confirmed, medical practitioners can develop a tailored treatment plan addressing the deficiency and its underlying causes.

Treatment often involves dietary adjustments, vitamin K supplementation, and managing underlying medical conditions. To restore normal vitamin K levels and effectively manage associated health issues, ongoing follow-up and monitoring is necessary. Here are certain ways for how it is generally diagnosed.

1. Clinical Assessment:

During a thorough clinical assessment, medical professionals look over the patient's medical history and physical examination to find any signs or symptoms of vitamin K deficiency that may be related to the condition, such as easy bleeding, easy bruising, or problems with the bones.

2. Laboratory Tests:

Several laboratory tests, including the Prothrombin Time (PT), International Normalized Ratio (INR), Activated Partial Thromboplastin Time (APTT), blood levels, liver function tests, other blood tests, and bone density testing, are used to diagnose vitamin K deficiency. These tests check bone health, identify liver-related reasons, and estimate the degree of the deficit, with DEXA scans being especially helpful for bone health issues.

3. Evaluation of Underlying Causes:

The underlying reasons of vitamin K shortage, such as malabsorption disorders, liver disease, or drug interactions, must be found and treated. To identify these contributory factors, additional examinations, such as endoscopy or imaging, may be required. These extra tests can give a more thorough picture of the internal organs and aid in finding any anomalies or diseases that might be causing the symptoms. Based on the results, they can also assist in choosing the best course of treatment.

How to prevent vitamin K deficiency

Preventing the vitamin k deficiency causes is easily achievable. By taking a few informed steps you can manage the vitamin k deficiency diseases. Adopting a balanced diet, making lifestyle choices that support nutrient absorption, and addressing potential risk factors. Here are some strategies to avoid vitamin k deficiency results in the disorders.

1. Maintain a Balanced Diet:

To increase your vitamin K intake, include green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, and broccoli, vegetable oils like soybean and canola oil, and fruits like blueberries and kiwi. Consume fermented foods like sauerkraut and natto, which contain vitamin K2. Incorporate herbs like parsley, basil, and thyme for vitamin K1.

2. Healthy Fat Intake:

Ensure an adequate intake of dietary fats, as vitamin K is fat-soluble. Healthy fats include avocados, nuts, and fatty fish like salmon.

3. Balanced Gut Health:

Maintain a healthy gut microbiome, as gut bacteria play a role in vitamin K production. Consume probiotic-rich foods (yogurt, kefir, kimchi) and fiber to support gut health.

4. Avoid Excessive Antibiotic Use:

Limit the unnecessary or prolonged use of antibiotics, as they can disrupt gut bacteria, potentially affecting vitamin K production.

5. Address Malabsorption Conditions:

If you have malabsorption disorders such as celiac disease or Crohn's disease, work with a healthcare professional to manage and treat these conditions effectively.

6. Moderate Alcohol Consumption:

If you consume alcohol, do so in moderation, as excessive alcohol intake can negatively impact liver function and vitamin K metabolism.

7. Liver Health:

Take steps to maintain liver health. Avoid excessive alcohol and manage conditions that affect liver function.

8. Medication Management:

If you are taking medications that may interfere with vitamin K metabolism (e.g., blood thinners), discuss vitamin K supplementation or dietary adjustments with your healthcare provider.

9. Newborn Care:

If you are a new parent, ensure that your newborn receives a vitamin K injection shortly after birth to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB).

10. Regular Health Check-Ups:

Attend regular check-ups with your healthcare provider, who can monitor your overall health and assess your risk for vitamin K deficiency.


As we have discussed vitamin K plays a pivotal role in blood clotting and bone health, and a deficiency can leads to serious health issues. Addressing vitamin K deficiency is crucial for maintaining overall health. To prevent vitamin K deficiency, it is essential to adopt a well-balanced diet. Which includes vitamin K-rich foods, maintain a healthy gut microbiome, moderate alcohol consumption. Further, manage underlying medical conditions and medications that may contribute to deficiency. Newborn care is also vital to prevent vitamin K deficiency bleeding in infants. Regular health check-ups with healthcare providers can help monitor and assess the risk of vitamin K deficiency. So that it can be controlled at an early stage.

For individuals seeking personalized guidance and healthcare services related to vitamin K deficiency or any other health concerns. They can consult or undertake treatment from Global Hospitals Mumbai. They offer a range of medical services and expertise to address various health issues. Including those related to nutrition and deficiencies. Consultation with healthcare professionals can provide valuable insights and recommendations for managing and preventing vitamin K deficiency.

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