Category: Vitamin K
Written By: Maria Vardapetyan, Eric Baghdasaryan, Osheen Abnous
Vitamins are chemicals that facilitate many processes in the human body such as blood clot formation, good vision, fight infections etc. There are two classes of vitamins. Water soluble vitamins and fat soluble vitamins. Water soluble vitamins dissolve in water. This makes it possible for them to be absorbed through all mucous membranes. Fat soluble vitamins on the other hand do not dissolve or pass through mucous membranes. Fat-soluble vitamins are absorbed in the intestine along with fats in the diet. These vitamins have the ability to be stored in the fat tissues of the human body. Water-soluble vitamins are not stored in the body and have to be taken in daily with the food and dietary supplements. Solubility of a vitamin is not a function of its physical state. There are fat soluble vitamins that have a liquid form and almost all of the water soluble vitamins come in form of pills or powders.
In this article, we are going to focus on fat soluble vitamins. They are all complex molecules made of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in different arrangements (see figures 1, 2, 3 and 4). These fat soluble vitamins are vitamin A, D, E and K.
Vitamin A has a major role in vision, immune function, cell growth, and maintenance of organs such as heart, kidneys, lungs, etc. It plays a pivotal role in the health of our eyes, specifically the retina1. Rhodopsin protein, a major protein that has the leading role in the process of vision, is found in the retina where it allows us to perceive light. This protein requires vitamin A to function properly. Without vitamin A, rhodopsin cannot sense light and thus cannot initiate the process by which vision occurs.
Figure 1: Chemical structure of Vitamin A molecule
Vitamin D regulates different chemical reactions that are associated with bones, muscles, and the immune system. The simplified way it does this regulation is it helps absorb calcium from dietary nutrients which in turn strengthens the bones, helps neurons exchange signals to move muscles and helps the immune system to fight against viruses and bacteria2.
Figure 2: Chemical structure of Vitamin D molecule
Vitamin E acts as an antioxidant. Antioxidants are naturally occurring chemicals that neutralize toxic byproducts of many chemical reactions in the human body. When food is consumed and digested, the human body converts it into energy. As a result of metabolism free radicals (toxic byproducts) are formed and are neutralized with the help of vitamin E. In addition, free radicals are also in the environment. Furthermore, vitamin E stimulates the immune system to fight against bacteria and viruses3.
Figure 3: Chemical structure of Vitamin E molecule
Vitamin K can be obtained from food and dietary supplements. There are two forms of vitamin K: phylloquinone (Vitamin K1), which is found in spinach, kale and other greens and menaquinone-4 (Vitamin K2), which is found in animal products. Vitamin K1 is involved in blood clotting, and Vitamin K2 is involved in bone tissue building. Vitamin K1 is the main Vitamin K in human diet (75-90% of all vitamin K consumed), however, it is poorly absorbed in the body4,5.
Figure 4: Chemical structures of Vitamin K1 and K2 molecules
Absorption of fat soluble vitamins
Polarity describes the inherent charge(positive or negative) or lack of charge for any given substance or molecule. Molecules that are charged are referred to as “polar”, while those that lack charge are “nonpolar”. When discussing solubility, it is important to remember the phrase “like dissolves like”. That means polar (charged) substances like to interact with a polar environment like water, since water contains a slight negative charge. Hence, charged substances are water-soluble. Nonpolar substances on the other hand readily interact with nonpolar environments such as fat, which contains no charge. Therefore, molecules that lack a charge such as vitamins A, D, E, and K are referred to as fat soluble.
Due to their water fearing nature, these fat soluble vitamins cannot simply be absorbed directly into the bloodstream (which is mostly water) like the sugars and amino acids in our diet. As their name suggests, these fat soluble vitamins like to be embedded in fatty droplets, which facilitate their absorption in the following way. Fat soluble vitamins group together with other fat molecules to form fatty droplets, effectively reducing the amount of interaction with the watery environment of the intestines. Therefore, without an adequate amount of fat in your diet, your body is unable to effectively absorb these fat-soluble vitamins. This may be true in an intact anatomy, however, post weight loss surgical patients can not increase their fat soluble vitamin levels by increasing their fat intake. This is due to the fact that a high fat diet causes excessive bowel movement which in turn washes away any vitamins taken by mouth. DS limits fat absorption (thus the great weight loss) which can cause vitamin A and D deficiency that can not be easily corrected with oral supplementation.
As mentioned before, fat soluble vitamins are hydrophobic and nonpolar, which means they are also fat loving or lipophilic. Excess fat soluble vitamins can be stored in the liver and fat tissue. Therefore, these vitamins do not need to be eaten every single day since stores of these vitamins can sustain a person for some time. It may take several weeks or months for our body to deplete these stores of fat soluble vitamins which is why it generally takes a longer amount of time for fat soluble vitamin deficiencies to manifest themselves. The ability to store these fat soluble vitamins in tissues can also lead to vitamin toxicity – marked by an excess of vitamin stores in our body.
Clinical manifestations of A, D, E, K deficiency
|Vitamin||Clinical Deficiency manifestations|
|Vitamin A||Vision Problems
Dryness of the eye
|Vitamin D||Softening and weakening of the bones
Bone shape distortion
Bowed legs (generally in children)
|Vitamin E||Damage to red blood cells
Tissue/organ damage due to inability to supply enough blood
Nervous tissue malfunction
|Vitamin K1||Excessive bruising
Increased bleeding time
Small blood clots under nails
Increased bleeding in mucous membrane
|Vitamin K2||Weak bones
Increased plaque deposits along gumline
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin A. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminA-HealthProfessional/#. Accessed April 26, 2020.
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin D. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminD-Consumer/. Accessed April 26, 2020.
- Office of Dietary Supplements – Vitamin E. NIH Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/VitaminE-Consumer/. Accessed April 26, 2020.
- Vitamin K. The Nutrition Source. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/vitamin-k/. Published July 2, 2019. Accessed April 26, 2020.
- Beulens JWJ, Booth SL, van den Heuvel EGHM, Stoecklin E, Baka A, Vermeer C. The role of menaquinones (vitamin K₂) in human health. The British journal of nutrition. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23590754. Published October 2013. Accessed April 26, 2020.
It’s important to understand Vitamin D metabolism and deficiency potential following weight loss surgery Vitamins after DS need to be followed via laboratory blood studies. There are basic vitamin needs but individual needs should be based on medical history, genetics, alimentary limb length, common channel length and other surgical and physiologic determinations. Vitamins after DS are a life long commitment as well as protein needs and hydration. Duodenal Switch is a malabsorptive procedure which requires at least yearly laboratory blood studies, daily vitamins/minerals, daily high protein and daily hydration intake. There is not an all in one vitamin that is adequate for a DS patient or tailored to your individual needs. (example: you may need more Vitamin D and less Vitamin A if you are taking a all-in-one vitamin you can’t get more of one and less of another vitamin)
DS patients are recommended to take Dry forms (water miscible form) of Vitamin A, D3, E, K due to the fat malabsorption after DS. Dry formulations by Biotech are processed so they can be absorbed by a water soluble method after the DS procedure. Vitamin D seems to be the vitamin that can become deficient the easiest, followed by Vitamin A. Take these vitamins away from dietary fat.
In some cases, patients may need injectable Vitamin A or D to improve vitamin levels.
Many DS surgeon’s do not recommend Children’s vitamins or chewable vitamins unless there is a specific reason or need for them.
DS Surgeon Blog on Vitamin D:
Webinar on Vitamin D metabolism:
Medications that effect Bone health:
This does not constitute medical advice, diagnosis or prescribing. It is simply a compiled list of gathered information. If you are in doubt or have questions please contact your medical healthcare professional.
Obesity is related to as many as 400,000 deaths each year in the US and it has increasingly been recognized as a risk factor for several nutrient deficiencies. This may seem surprising given the likelihood of over consumption of calories, however these additional calories are not from nutritious sources. One of the main reason for these nutritional deficits is the greater availability of inexpensive foods that are rich in calories and are nutrient deficient. This has led some medical professional to conclude that there is a certain group of people who are overfed but undernourished. Even with the epidemic of the obesity, there is significant nutritional deficiencies noted.
Obese subjects have increased blood volume, cardiac output, adiposity, lean mass and organ size all of which can influence volume of distribution, in addition, treatment for severe obesity involving surgical procedures can worsen these nutrient deficiencies and in some cases may cause new ones to develop.
This table shows the percentage of population below the estimated average requirement (EAR) by body weight status in adults more tan 19 years old, showing that almost 90 to 100 percent of people including normal weight (NW) are below the EAR of vitamin D and Vitamin E.
Nutritional deficiencies in obese patients may promote the development of chronic diseases including increased insulin resistance, pancreatic B-cell disfunction and diabetes, this is because specific micronutrients are involved in glucose metabolic pathways; There are other chronic diseases related to obesity that are being investigated such as decrease in focal grey matter volume and cognitive impairment or inadequate sleep due to low intake of antioxidant vitamins.
We would like to thank Miguel Rosado, MD for his significant contribution provided for this Blog.
Vitamin A is one of the 4 fat soluble vitamins along with vitamin D, Vitamin E and Vitamin K. It is multifunctional and essential which means that it is not produced by the body. In this article we will touch on aspects of Vitamin A absorption and it’s effect on wound healing as well as its metabolism.
We often think of Vitamin A as the critical vitamin for vision, however it has several other roles that related to immune function, protein synthesis, and cellular communication. Vitamin A deficiency is a concern world wide because of the natural of the side effects. Vitamin A deficiency is the leading cause of preventable childhood blindness in the world according to UNICEF and sometimes it may be undetected until there is irreversible damage.
There are 2 chemical forms of vitamin A in diet:
Retinoids (Preformed vitamin A) This group include retinol, retinyl esters, and retinal they are mostly found in animal sources like liver, egg yolk or fish oils.
Carotenoids (Provitamin A) This group includes beta-carotene, alpha-carotene and lycopene, mainly found in plant sources like leafy vegetables or yellow/orange vegetables and fruits.
1.- Ingested food is digested in the stomach where retinyl palmitates (esters) are released from proteins. Retinol and beta-carotene are absorbed directly into the small intestine where retinyl esters and betacarotene are transformed into retinol . Retinol is the most easily absorbed form of vitamin A.
2.-That retinol absorbed by the enterocytes in the ileum (small intestine) along with bile is then transported to the liver with the help of chylomicrons a protein that transports fat.
3.-Fifty to 80% of the vitamin A is stored in the liver and the remaining is deposited into adipose tissue, lungs and kidneys.
4.-When stored retinol is released from the liver into the circulation to target organs, it is bound to plasma retinol-binding protein (RBP4) a transporting protein produced by the liver that requires ZINC, which is synthesized by the liver; This complex is stabilized by transthyretin (TTR), which reduces renal excretion.
Retinol is a crucial component for reproduction, embryological development, cellular differentiation, growth, protein synthesis, and immunity in the form of retinoic acid and vision in the form of retinal.
One of Vitamin A additional roles is in epithelial health of skin and mucous membranes. It increases epithelial turnover which is crucial during would healing. It also has anti-oxidative effects which prevent cell damage and can prevent or reverse the effects of other damaging agents. In addition to these benefits it has also been associated with increasing collagen, fibronectin, keratinocytes and fibroblast, all important in wound tissue structure. There have been some studies that suggest giving higher doses of Vitamin A in patients with non or slow healing wounds.
It is important to remember that we have documents delayed diagnosis of adult vitamin A deficiency leading to significant night blindness in adults. It is critical that the patients and their primary care physicians are acutely aware of this possibility. In majority of the patients with low vitamin A, post weight loss surgery, aggressive supplementations, including injections need to be considered as a part of the treatment regimen.
We would like to thank Miguel Rosado, MD for his significant contribution provided for this Blog.
Treatment options should be approached is a global and systemic fashion. It is critical that the nutritional status is at its best possible and optimized for important healthy bone vitamins and minerals. Low protein needs to be corrected. Special attention should be given to nutrients, minerals and vitamins. These include Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K1/K2to name a few.
Healthy bones require ongoing and routine force in the form of exercise to remain health. Just as exercise improves muscle strength, it also improves bone health. Exercise is also critical in improving bone structure and density. Ideally, exercise should be weight bearing and resistance. Examples include: hiking, walking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, and dancing. Resistance type exercise is weight lifting and resistance bands. These exercise work by creating a pull or force on the bone either by gravity, movement or weight. Always check with your physician before beginning an exercise routine, start slowly and building up to longer periods of time. The ideal goal would be at least 30 minutes a day, every day, if you are able.
We frequently see patients immediately started on osteoporosis medications without checking or improving some of the nutritional markers noted above or without looking at exercise history. In some case, the medication recommended are contraindicated due to nutritional status.
The medications can be grouped in to those that help with new bone formation (Anabolic agents) or those that help by suppressing the bone breakdown phase (Antiresorptive agents).
National Osteoporosis Foundation has an exhaustive list (below) of medications for treatment of Osteoporosis.
The table below outlines the side effects and mechanism of the actions of the common medications used for treatment of osteoporosis which was published by the University Health News Publication on August of 2014.
With all this information, the few points to remember is that the most important factors in healthy bone structure are the nutritional status Protein, Calcium, Magnesium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin K1 levels.
This is an animation of normal bone Metabolism. It shows how bone structures is taken down and rebuilt continuously. This allows for a healthy bone maintainence as we age. The key is the balance of breakdown (osteoclast) and the build up (osteoblast) activity is regulated. Osteoporosis develops when there is more breakdown that build up.
With permission of Dr. Susan Ott of University of Washington.
Additional information available on her site.
Past blogs on Bone Health.
Weight loss surgical procedures may result in varying degrees of nutritional deficiencies. Some of these nutritional deficiencies may cause neuromuscular disease if left untreated, these include vitamins, minerals, and protein. The long-term effect of these deficiencies may presents as neuromuscular conditions including, weakness, numbness, confusion and all others if not-diagnosed and untreated. It is important to note that all weight loss surgical procedures require lifetime vitamin, mineral supplements and protein monitoring and possible supplements.
The table below outlines some of the specific neurological and neuromuscular disease complications following bariatric surgery. The most common deficiencies seen with the duodenal switch operation are fat soluble vitamin deficiencies. These include, Vitamin A, D, E and K. Duodenal Switch patients need oral supplements of Dry “Water Miscible” type of Vitamin A, D, E, and K based on their laboratory studies and needs.
The neurological deficiencies are manifested much more frequently with the Gastric Bypass than the duodenal switch operation. The most common nutritional deficients are that of B1, B12, Folate deficiencies that are common in Gastric Bypass. A list of possible neurologic deficiencies and there associated symptoms were summarized by Becker (2012). Another article with Nutritional Neuropathies.
Nutritional deficiencies are seen in a number of illnesses including weight loss surgery patients.
Vitamin K1 is a found in dark green leafy vegetables, asparagus, brussels sprouts, some grains, olive oil, prunes, soy bean oil, and canola oil. The body has limited storage capacity for Vitamin K and uses a recycle system to reuse it.
Vitamin K1 is a fat-soluble vitamin that after Duodenal Switch is not as easily absorbed due to the limiting contact of the food product with the bile until the common channel. Bile is needed to absorb fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins.
Duodenal Switch patients in need of Vitamin K1 supplements should take “Dry” or water miscible type of Vitamin K1, such as Biotech brand. The patients laboratory studies will determine if a patient requires Vitamin K1 supplement. Duodenal Switch patients should have laboratory studies drawn and evaluated at least on a yearly basis. Vitamin K works in a delicate balance with other supplements and should be monitored by a physician, in at risk people.
Vitamin K1 is most know for it’s coagulation effect and the clotting cascade. Vitamin K1 works with calcium and proteins in order to accomplish coagulation synethesis. Care should be taken with Vitamin K supplementation and anti-coagulation (blood thinners) therapy. Please see your physician regarding any supplementation of Vitamin K and blood thinner medications.
A discovery of Vitamin K dependent proteins has led to research on Vitamin K1 in bone health. Bone matrix proteins, specifically osteocalcin, undergo gamma carboxylation with calcium much the way coagulation factors do; this process also requires Vitamin K. Osteocalcin is a Gla-protein that is regulated by Vitamin D. The calcium binding ability of osteocalcin requires several Vitamin K carboxylations to exert it’s effects on bone mineralization.
In adults, the causes of Vitamin K1 deficiency include the following :
Multiple abdominal surgeries
Long-term parenteral nutrition
Parenchymal liver disease
Inflammatory bowel disease
Medications: Antibiotics (cephalosporin), cholestyramines, warfarin, salicylates, anticonvulsants, Cefamandole, cefoperazone, salicylates, hydantoins, rifampin, isoniazid, barbiturates, and certain sulfa drugs, higher Vitamin E can antagonized Vitamin K)
Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) – Severe
Chronic kidney disease/hemodialysis
Additional information: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/infocenter/vitamins/vitaminK/
As always, discuss with your physicians and/or surgeon any changes in medications and supplements. This is not meant to be an all inclusive discussion of Vitamin K.