Vitamin K Deficiency

By | June 10, 2022

Vitamin K deficiency is one of the hypovitaminosis. However, it rarely occurs.

What is vitamin K deficiency?

A vitamin K deficiency occurs when not enough vitamin K is produced by the intestinal bacteria or ingested with food. Deficiency symptoms are usually caused by certain diseases or poor nutrition. A vitamin K deficiency can also occur in babies, since their intestinal flora is not yet sufficiently developed and therefore cannot produce enough vitamin K. For brachydactyly (bd), please visit

The mother’s milk also only has smaller amounts of vitamin K. Because of this, the newborn children get extra vitamin K. Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that plays an important role in regulating human blood clotting. It is also important for bone mineralization. Most of the vitamin K can be covered in green leafy vegetables such as cabbage, lettuce and spinach.

It is also found in chicken, wheat germ and sunflower oil. In addition, the vitamin is produced in the body by the intestinal bacteria. The daily vitamin K requirement of adults is between 0.03 and 1.5 µg per kilogram of body weight. In children, the daily requirement is greater at 10 µg per kilo.


A lack of vitamin K is usually caused by intestinal diseases. These cause the absorption of the vitamin to no longer function smoothly. The intestine is no longer able to absorb the vitamin from food, which results in deficiency symptoms.

In some cases, treatment with antibiotics can also be responsible for a vitamin K deficiency. There is a risk that the intestinal bacteria will be affected by some antibiotics. In addition, the functions of the vitamin can also be disrupted by the antibiotic agents.

Other possible causes of a vitamin K deficiency are liver diseases that damage the liver tissue, thinning of the blood through the use of certain medications or malnutrition. Other conditions that may be responsible for a lack of vitamin K include long-term alcohol abuse, celiac disease, Crohn’s disease, cancer, or a lack of calcium.

A vitamin K deficiency can be particularly fatal for infants, since even minor deviations in vitamin K intake can have serious consequences for the health of the child concerned.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

A vitamin K deficiency impairs the human blood coagulation system. Above a certain concentration, there is a risk of spontaneous bleeding. Injuries can even result in significant blood loss. But even without the external influence of violence, severe bleeding in all organs and tissues is possible. The bleeding is noticeable through pronounced bruises on the skin. Bleeding in the brain is also possible.

Symptoms in babies due to vitamin K deficiency are what doctors call Morbus haemorrhagicus neonatorum, which means an increased tendency to bleed. Bleeding occurs in infants primarily in the intestines, liver, lungs, abdomen, skin, mucous membranes and brain and varies in intensity. Furthermore, a vitamin K deficiency results in a decrease in bone density. This increases the risk of bone fractures.

Diagnosis & course of disease

If a vitamin K deficiency is suspected, a doctor should be consulted. The doctor will check for any changes that may be caused by the deficiency. He also inquires about the eating habits and possible previous illnesses that cause a vitamin K deficiency.

In addition, the doctor performs a thorough physical examination. A blood sample is taken to confirm the diagnosis. The doctor records the time it takes for the blood to clot. If the clotting time increases, this is considered an indication of a vitamin K deficiency. In the further course, the doctor tries to find out the reason for the lack of vitamin K, for which he carries out further examinations.

It is also important to check for any additional deficiencies. If the vitamin K deficiency is compensated for by appropriate treatment, the disease usually takes a positive course. Without treatment, however, vitamin K deficiency in babies can have life-threatening consequences.


A vitamin K deficiency primarily affects blood clotting. People suffering from K hypovitaminosis are more likely to bruise, bleed from the nose or injure the gums. Bruising occurs mainly in the joints and is associated with pain and sensitivity to pressure. In the long term, this can also lead to adhesions, scars and sensory disorders.

A beginning deficiency also causes lack of concentration and listlessness. The susceptibility to infections may also be increased, as well as pronounced fatigue and persistent headaches. Serious complications occur with internal bleeding, for example with gastric or intestinal ulcers or injuries. This can lead to anemia and, in the worst case, bleeding to death.

Internal bleeding can also occur with K hypovitaminosis without a cause. Due to the disturbed blood clotting, the smallest internal injuries occur, which initially cause pain and can develop into serious complications if the deficiency persists. Taking vitamin K supplements can cause side effects.

Some people complain of symptoms of poisoning, others experience stomach pains, migraines and other ailments. Corresponding complications are to be expected above all with the uncontrolled intake of these drugs. When the K vitamins are given intravenously, there is a risk of infection, tissue injury, and wound healing problems after the IV bag is removed.

When should you go to the doctor?

If you have a vitamin K deficiency, you should always see a doctor. The earlier the disease is diagnosed and treatment is initiated, the better the further course is, as this disease cannot heal on its own. The person concerned should therefore contact a doctor as soon as the first symptoms and signs appear in order to prevent further complications.

A doctor should be consulted for vitamin K deficiency if the person concerned suffers from a severe impairment of blood clotting. Even minor cuts and injuries can lead to severe blood loss, as the bleeding often does not stop.

This can also lead to bleeding under the skin, which can indicate a vitamin K deficiency. This deficiency also greatly increases the risk of fractures. If the person concerned frequently injures himself and suffers from broken bones, a doctor should also be consulted. Vitamin K deficiency can usually be diagnosed by a general practitioner. Further treatment is then carried out by taking medication that permanently relieves the symptoms. However, the person concerned should point out the vitamin K deficiency to the attending physicians so that heavy bleeding does not occur during examinations or during a normal blood test.

Treatment & Therapy

The treatment of a vitamin K deficiency depends on its triggering cause, which should always be combated. If, for example, intestinal diseases or liver diseases are responsible for the deficiency symptoms, the patients receive appropriate medication. In addition, patients are given a sufficient amount of vitamin K until the deficiency is corrected.

The vitamin is absorbed either through food or with vitamin supplements. In severe cases, injections with vitamin K are also possible. If there are other deficiency symptoms, these must also be treated accordingly. In the event that blood thinning medication is the trigger for the vitamin K deficiency, the blood thinning medication will be adjusted accordingly.

If the lack of vitamin K causes heavy bleeding, those affected are administered activated blood clotting substances, which they receive via a vein. In this way, the bleeding can be stopped and blood clotting can be brought back to normal.


To ensure that babies do not develop a vitamin K deficiency in the first place, newborn children in many countries are systematically given vitamin K in their first weeks of life. This procedure is very important, as it is not easy for them to get an adequate supply of the vitamin and there is a risk of significant health impairments due to a deficiency.


After a vitamin K deficiency has been remedied, attention should be paid to a healthy diet rich in vitamin K. Vitamin K1 is mainly found in green vegetables (spinach, kale, broccoli) and vitamin K2 in meat, eggs and dairy products. Since poisoning with vitamin K is not possible in adults, these foods should be eaten in abundance even after the vitamin K deficiency has been corrected. In this way, another vitamin K deficiency can be avoided.

When taking blood clots, however, care must be taken that the blood does not become too thick. Otherwise cardiovascular diseases can result. In addition, regular checks of the Quick and INR values ​​in the blood should be carried out in order to be able to detect a renewed vitamin K deficiency at an early stage. These tests can be done at home using blood meters, which are available from pharmacies with a prescription.

However, if bad values ​​are measured in the blood, a renewed visit to the doctor is essential. In addition, larger check-ups should be carried out at regular intervals by the family doctor and, if necessary, by a specialist, especially if medication is taken to increase the coagulation function of the blood. Patients should also pay attention to their tendency to bleed. If this is increased, another vitamin K deficiency can be the cause.

You can do that yourself

A vitamin K deficiency can be corrected with medication and a change in diet. A sufficient amount of vitamin K is contained, for example, in foods such as chives, spinach, calf’s liver or quark. Affected people should also drink plenty of fluids and generally eat a balanced diet to stimulate their metabolism.

If the deficiency persists, the doctor must be consulted. Typical symptoms such as fractures or persistent exhaustion indicate a severe vitamin deficiency. The doctor must clarify the cause and, if necessary, prescribe a suitable dietary supplement. If you take it regularly, the deficiency should go away on its own.

Since a vitamin K deficiency usually results from a disease, it must first be treated. Treatment is necessary for alcoholism. Those affected should also contact a specialist who can prescribe effective supplements for them, since in most cases there is not only a vitamin K deficiency, but also a mineral and general vitamin deficiency. The intake of supplements or large amounts of the foods mentioned should be done in consultation with the general practitioner or an internist. Otherwise, an overdose can occur, which is associated with various complications.

Vitamin K Deficiency