Header for Osteoporosis Digest

Vitamin K Deficiency

Research shows that seventy-five percent of Americans fail to meet the recommended intake of vitamin K in their diets. Vitamin K deficiency can lead to defective blood clotting, heavy menstrual bleeding, anemia, bruising and bleeding of the gums or nose.

Vitamin K2 deficiency has also been linked to osteoporosis and coronary heart disease.

National data from the NHANES 2001-2001 study suggests that only about one in four Americans meets the goal for vitamin K intake from food. The fast food diet that contributes to obesity in North America not only lacks foods high in vitamin K but often has an excess of hydrogenated vegetable oils which decrease the absorption and biological effect of dietary vitamin K. (Moshfegh A, Goldman, J., Cleveland, L. . What We Eat In America. NHANES 2001–2002: Usual Nutrient Intakes from Food Compared to Dietary Reference Intakes. U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. 2005.)

In addition to a poor diet that lacks leafy green vegetables, there are a variety of health conditions that can cause a vitamin K deficiency. These conditions include:

  • liver damage or disease (e.g. alcoholics)
  • cystic fibrosis
  • inflammatory bowel diseases
  • recent abdominal surgery
  • eating disorders such as bulimia or anorexia
  • long-term use of anticoagulants

Health conditions that may limit the absorption of vitamin K include biliary obstruction, celiac disease or sprue, ulcerative colitis, regional enteritis, cystic fibrosis, short bowel syndrome or intestinal resection ... particularly of the terminal ileum, where fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed.

Medications that may reduce vitamin K levels by altering liver function or by killing intestinal flora (normal intestinal bacteria) include:

  • antibiotics
  • salicylates (a key ingredient in many skin-care products used for the treatment of acne, psoriasis, calluses, corns, keratosis pilaris and warts)
  • barbiturates (used for anxiety, insomnia and epilepsy)
  • anti-seizure medications, and
  • some sulfa-drugs.

Aging may also be related to vitamin K deficiency. Some research on the interrelationship between estrogen and vitamin K suggests that low estrogen levels in menopause may change the way vitamin K is metabolized.

Vitamin K2 (MK-7) is available for approximately 20 cents a tablet or $70 a year.

To learn more about vitamin K deficiency... visit Osteoporosis Treatment Guidelines.