A vitamin K deficiency is responsible for digestive, nasal, skin and cerebral haemorrhages, as blood coagulation is no longer possible. In time, these minor, sometimes imperceptible haemorrhages lead to anaemia (lack of the red cells that transport oxygen in the blood).An appropriate intake through the diet helps prevent these risks.
The existence of an anti-hemorrhagic dietary factor was proven in 1929 and isolated in 1936. It was given the name vitamin K, but in fact it is a group of several similar liposoluble substances that permit blood coagulation in certain conditions throughcomplex biochemical mechanisms. Vitamin K is traditionally administered by injection following the intoxication of anticoagulants (e.g. accidental ingestion of rodenticides).
Vitamin K is a co-factor for many enzymes, which means that these enzymes cannot be active without it. As a consequence, it is essential to some blood coagulation factors. It also has a role in protein metabolism, helping to bind calcium in bone.
The main dietary sources of vitamin K are meat and vegetables, especially cabbage, parsley and spinach. In animals, vitamin K is mainly stored in the liver.