Vitamin K for Baby and Mom

When most women think of vitamin K, the usual connection is the shot given to newborns, usually in the foot. This injection is given because at birth newborns have little if any vitamin K in their bodies, so it is important to give them a booster in order to protect them. Protect them from what?

Vitamin K - the "K"oagulating Vitamin for Mom & Baby

In 1929 Dr. Henrik Dam, a Danish scientist, discovered vitamin K. The K is for koagulation, essential for blood clotting. In Western English, we use a "c" to spell the word. Newborns are given the injection of vitamin K to prevent excessive bleeding and to ensure their blood clots. Since they are not born with adequate amount of this clotting vitamin, they could become subject to a potentially fatal condition known as hemorrhagic disease of the newborn, otherwise known as vitamin K deficient bleeding. The incidence of this disease had dropped significantly since the injection was instituted and it now appears almost exclusively in breastfed babies who never received the injection and whose mothers are vitamin K deficient. Babies who are fed formula get adequate supplies of this vitamin in the formula.

Importance of Vitamin K to Prevent Cholestasis in Pregnancy

Vitamin K is an essential vitamin for adults, especially pregnant women. Inadequate amounts of vitamin K in a pregnant woman and lead her to develop a condition called cholestasis - something that only occurs in pregnancy. It is most frequently found in women in the third trimester and is caused by a hormonally induced disruption of the flow of bile in the gallbladder. The symptoms of cholestasis are:

· severe itching

· dark urine

· lightly colored bowel movements

· fatigue

· loss of appetite

· depression

In order to confirm a diagnosis, blood work is necessary and if a woman is diagnosed with cholestasis, the most common treatment is vitamin K supplementation prior to and following the birth of the baby in order to prevent intracranial hemorrhaging (bleeding in the brain). Cholestasis in not a common occurrence and does require an accurate diagnosis before treatment.


Take Vitamin K for Pregnancy in the Proper Dosage

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin, which means it does not have to be replaced as frequently as water based vitamins do and it doesn't lose its value when cooked. The recommended dose for women age 19 and older is 90mcg per day and for women younger than 19, 75mcg per day. The dose does not change for a woman when she is pregnant. There are three main forms of vitamin K:

· K1 - phylloquinone, also known as phytonadione - this is found most in green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, collard greens and in foods that are fortified with the vitamin.

· K2 - menaquinone - the best source for this one is natto (a Japanese food that is strong and rather unpleasant), fermented soybean foods, cheeses, especially curd cheese

· K3 - menadione synthetic variant - not recommended for consumption and should be avoided

Vitamin K crosses the placenta, which is why supplementation is given if there is a deficiency during pregnancy. Although there is usually an adequate amounts in the human body, and it is replenished with a healthy diet heavy on green leafy vegetables, supplementation is suggested by way of a good pregnancy multivitamin. It is important not to exceed the recommended dosage, even though there have been no studies to indicate problems if a woman does take more than is recommended. However, it is better to err on the side of caution than to risk ingesting anything that could become toxic to mother or baby.

Vitamin K for Bone Health for Both Mom and Babe

Vitamin K has also been associated with bone health and works together with vitamin D3 to promote strong bones. It is only within the past few years that the understanding of the value and need for vitamin D has been appreciated and a concerted effort to educate people and promote healthy consumption of vitamin D has been a big thrust in health awareness, particularly for expectant mothers. Vitamin K is critical for producing osteocalcin protein in the body. Without vitamin K, bone health would deteriorate rapidly. Together with vitamin D, vitamin K is a powerhouse for bone building.

Learn more about vitamin K for newborns in the article on this site.

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