Be stable with vitamin K
A very commonly prescribed medication is Coumadin or Warfarin. It is an oral anticoagulant prescribed to prevent atrial fibrillation, blood clots or deep vein thrombosis or given because of a heart valve replacement. These anti-clotting meds are tightly regulated within a narrow therapeutic range, and blood work is done frequently to make sure the values are safe.
Vitamin K is an anti-clotting vitamin so it can have an impact on the warfarin and blood values. Old recommendations to patients were to limit or cut out all food sources of vitamin K but times have changed. Vitamin K is found in many very healthy nutrient-dense foods, so most doctors do not want these foods eliminated.
If your doctor says it is okay to eat foods with vitamin K, it is important to keep dietary intake of vitamin K stable. That means, eat vitamin K-rich foods each and every day, not occasionally or sporadically.
The very highest sources of vitamin K include all dark green leafy vegetables: spinach, kale, mustard greens, etc. Other very good sources of vitamin K are broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, asparagus, lettuce, and green beans. Believe it or not, you will find a pretty good amount of vitamin K in both canola and soybean oils, green eat and rhubarb.
A recent study of 1,000 mostly male participants who had been on warfarin for 12-31 months found that 68 percent were told to reduce vitamin K foods and 22 percent received no recommendations at all about vitamin K intake. If you are on Warfarin or another blood thinner, this is an important discussion to have with your doctor.
All of those foods high in vitamin K are really healthy for us. They are some of the best foods that we can and should be eating for heart health. Most physicians today suggest including vitamin K food sources daily – but to be consistent in eating these foods every day, not sporadically.
An example of consistency from day-to-day:
- Monday breakfast: a cup of strong green tea
- Tuesday lunch: a side of coleslaw with your sandwich
- Wednesday dinner: a large veggie salad that includes spinach and lettuce
- Thursday lunch: spinach salad
Spread out vitamin K intake with a high source every day. But first, talk it over with your doctor to see if this appropriate for you.
Recipes to try:
About the Author
Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.