If you have been diagnosed with a blood clot, a medication named warfarin (Coumadin) may be prescribed as part of your treatment to prevent further blood clots. You may need to take warfarin (Coumadin) for a few weeks, months, or the rest of your life. While taking warfarin (Coumadin), there are a few things about vitamin K you will need to know.
Vitamin K is a naturally occurring vitamin. Vitamin K is primarily found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce, and enters your body when you eat these foods. Vitamin K is produced by the bacteria in your intestines, and it is also in vitamin and nutritional supplements. Your body uses vitamin K to produce some of the clotting factors that helps blood clot.
Changes in the amount of vitamin K in the diet can alter the metabolism of warfarin (Coumadin ®). However, vitamin K does not influence the action of other blood thinners, such as heparin or low molecular weight heparins (Lovenox ®. Fragmin ®, or Innohep ®).
You should aim to keep the amount of vitamin K in your diet consistent. For example, if you normally eat two servings per day of food that is high in vitamin K content, you should continue this pattern every day. If you do not normally eat foods that are high in vitamin K, do not suddenly eat a large amount of them.
There are certain things about vitamin K that you cannot control. For instance, some medications and illnesses (intestinal diseases and/or infections) can lower the amount of vitamin K in your body or change how your liver metabolizes your warfarin.
Yes, your INR refers to the international normalized ratio test, a standardized way to measure how your blood is clotting. The lower your INR, the more quickly the blood clots or the “thicker” the blood. The higher your INR, the longer it takes the blood to clot or the “thinner” the blood, putting you at risk for bleeding problems. With an increase in vitamin K , your INR level may drop. Conversely, a decrease in vitamin K intake may increase the INR. Other things, like medications, antibiotics, and herbal products may also influence your INR.
Any time your vitamin K intake changes, it is important to notify your anticoagulation healthcare provider. Some of the circumstances that may apply include if you:
You do not have to avoid foods or other products that are high in vitamin K; these foods have many other vitamins and minerals that are part of a healthy diet. The most important thing to remember about vitamin K intake is being consistent as much as possible and communicating any changes that may occur to your anticoagulation healthcare provider.
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It is not the intention of NBCA or MASAB to provide specific medical advice, but rather to provide users with information to better understand their health and their diagnosed disorders. Specific medical advice will not be provided and both NBCA and MASAB urge you to consult with a qualified physician for diagnosis and for answers to your personal questions.
Posted November 24, 2008