What Are the Risk Factors for Vitamin K Deficiency

What Are the Risk Factors for Vitamin K Deficiency?

• Anticoagulants. Oral anticoagulant drugs are the major cause of vitamin K deficiency. Warfarin, a commonly prescribed anticoagulant drug, is an inhibitor of vitamin K epoxide reductase, an enzyme that allows the body to recycle and recover vitamin K. Long-term warfarin users are at a high risk of vitamin K deficiency.

• Vitamin K–deficient bleeding in newborns. Bleeding caused by vitamin K deficiency in new babies is a classic example of vitamin K deficiency–related disease in humans. A number of factors— including low vitamin K in the placenta, defective coagulation factors and germ-free digestive tracts in infants, and low vitamin K in breast milk—can cause vitamin K–deficient bleeding in newborns. Vitamin K–deficient bleeding often occurs during the first week of birth. The American Pediatrics Association recommends that newborns be given an injection of 0.5–1 mg of vitamin K to avoid vitamin K–deficient bleeding.

• Diseases. A number of conditions—including liver disease and inflammatory bowel diseases (such as Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis), as well as the long-term use of antibiotics—can trigger vitamin K deficiency. All these conditions could kill bacteria living in the colon.

Prevention and Treatment of Diseases

• Prevention. Vitamin K helps prevent osteoporosis (94), cardiovascular disease (48), and calcification of blood vessels.

• Treatment. Vitamin K may treat osteoporosis.