Pregnancy / Childbirth

Vitamin K - its role in the body and administration for newborns

Vitamin K is still a little-known vitamin. A pity, because it plays a very important role in our body. In adults, the correct level affects normal blood clotting, protects against osteoporosis and exhibits anti-cancer properties. That is why it is worth knowing this vitamin and trying to maintain its proper level in the body. In Poland, vitamin K is also administered prophylactically to newborns. Its supplementation prevents the child from developing hemorrhagic disease.

The role of vitamin K in the body

Vitamin K was discovered by Henrik Lady in 1930. This Danish scientist during research on chickens fed with artificial food noticed that the body of animals was covered in bloody ecchymosis. Their occurrence was associated with vitamin K deficiency in the chickens tested.

Vitamin K is involved in the liver's production of prothrombin and other compounds that regulate blood clotting. Their deficiency caused by too low levels of vitamin K in our body makes blood clot much more slowly. In this case, even a small injury is enough to cause heavy and difficult to stop bleeding. Vitamin K also has a positive effect on the functioning of the circulatory system, as it prevents the accumulation of atherosclerotic plaques in arterial vessels.

This vitamin also participates in the process of activating proteins that perform the function of bone calcification. Its high enough thus prevents osteoporosis and bone problems. The anti-cancer properties of vitamin K have also been scientifically confirmed. Ensuring a sufficiently high level of this vitamin in our body prevents the development of cancers such as breast, ovarian, liver, stomach and kidney cancer.

What natural products does vitamin K contain?

The natural form of vitamin K, vitamin K1, in the largest quantities is found in green vegetables. It is the green color of the leaves that determines its content. So if we want to enrich our diet with this ingredient, we should consume such vegetables with green leaves, such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, romaine lettuce, spinach, cabbage and parsley. Small amounts of this vitamin can also be found in nuts, strawberries, beef liver and in vegetable oils.

Second character Vitamin K, vitamin K2, is produced by the bacteria that live in our intestines. In turn, an artificially produced form of vitamin K, called vitamin K3 is a vitamin found in dietary supplements. It is soluble in water or fat and is used to make up for vitamin K deficiencies in the body.

Vitamin K for newborns - is its administration mandatory?

The Polish Neonatal Society recommends that every newborn baby should receive vitamin K prophylactically in the first day of his life. It is served to her intramuscularly, by vaccine (1 mg) or orally (2 mg). Doctors also recommend that parents continue to administer this vitamin yet for the first three months of a child's life. Vitamin K does not penetrate the placenta, so babies are born with low levels in the body. Especially newborns fed mother's milk are at risk of vitamin K deficiency because only trace amounts are present in breast milk.

A newborn's vitamin K deficiency is dangerous and in some cases can contribute to the appearance of the child hemorrhagic disease. This, in turn, can lead to life-threatening children intracranial bleeding. It is recommended to prevent this prophylactic administration of vitamin K to all newborns in Poland.

However, doctors around the world disagree about the need to give vitamin K to newborns. It is also puzzling that in Western Europe this vitamin is only given to children who are already suffering from intracranial bleeding. Healthy newborns do not receive additional vitamin K supplementation at all. Also, too much vitamin K in a child's body can cause side effects. These include jaundice, sweating, seizures, anemia and swelling.

However, it is worth knowing that administration of vitamin K for newborns in Poland is recommended but not mandatory. A parent has the right to refuse to give this vitamin to their child if they think it is not necessary. It is worth getting acquainted with the subject of vitamin K for newborns before delivery and thus making an informed decision whether we want to give it to our baby or not.