What is Vitamin K?

Vitamin K is a vitamin found in leafy green vegetables, broccoli, and Brussels sprouts. The name vitamin K comes from the German word “Koagulationsvitamin.”

Several forms of vitamin K are used around the world as medicine. But in the U.S., the only form available is vitamin K1 (phytonadione). Vitamin K1 is generally the preferred form of vitamin K because it is less toxic, works faster, is stronger, and works better for certain conditions.

In the body, vitamin K plays a major role in blood clotting. So it is used to reverse the effects of “blood thinning” medications when too much is given; to prevent clotting problems in newborns who don’t have enough vitamin K; and to treat bleeding caused by medications including salicylates, sulfonamides, quinine, quinidine, or antibiotics. Vitamin K is also given to treat and prevent vitamin K deficiency, a condition in which the body doesn’t have enough vitamin K. It is also used to prevent and treat weak bones (osteoporosis) and relieve itching that often accompanies a liver disease called biliary cirrhosis.

People apply vitamin K to the skin to remove spider veins, bruises, scars, stretch marks, and burns. It is also used topically to treat rosacea, a skin condition that causes redness and pimples on the face. After surgery, vitamin K is used to speed up skin healing and reduce bruising and swelling.

Healthcare providers also give vitamin K by injection to treat clotting problems.

An increased understanding of the role of vitamin K in the body beyond blood clotting led some researchers to suggest that the recommended amounts for dietary intake of vitamin K be increased. In 2001, the National Institute of Medicine Food and Nutrition Board increased their recommended amounts of vitamin K slightly, but refused to make larger increases. They explained there wasn’t enough scientific evidence to make larger increases in the recommended amount of vitamin K.

Reference:
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/natural/983.html

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