Dangers of eating Vitamin K rich food with anticoagulants

Should foods with vitamin K be avoided in case of taking medications such as Sintrom or Warfarin?

What are anticoagulant medications used for?

Anticoagulant medications are a type of drugs that have the purpose of preventing blood clots. This function is important because it prevents cardiovascular accidents such as thrombosis, cerebral thrombosis, embolism, heart attack, etc.

How do anticoagulant medications work?

Mediterranean still life diet
The foods richest in vitamin K in the diet are green leafy and fermented vegetables, such as cabbage sauerkraut.

There are many types of anticoagulants. The most commonly used act by preventing the functions of vitamin K. This vitamin is called K because it was discovered by studying its effects on coagulation (the first letter of the Danish name Koagulation = coagulation).

Although it is famous for its property to coagulate blood, it deserves to be mentioned that it has other important functions in the body, such as vitamin K is essential for bone calcification.

Is it dangerous to eat food rich in vitamin K?

The normal consumption of foods with vitamin K is not worrying in people taking oral anticoagulants, since at the time of adjusting the medication the normal intake of foods containing this vitamin is taken into account.

Only high ingestion of foods with a lot of vitamin K is contrainidicated.

Where is vitamin K?

The foods richest in vitamin K are vegetables and fermented foods.

  • Among the vegetables, the richest in this vitamin are cruciferous, especially kale , watercress, turnip greens and Brussels sprouts.
  • Cabbage sauerkraut is very rich in vitamin K due to both the vegetable and the fermentation process
  • Spinach and chard are also rich in vitamin K
  • Kiwi is the richest fruit in vitamin K, but its normal consumption is not a problem.

Boiling these vegetables does not eliminate the vitamin K content, as it is not a water-soluble vitamin.

Eating large amounts of these foods could cause the medication to not be effective in blocking so much vitamin K and blood clots could occur.

Can foods be eaten with vitamin K if anticoagulant drugs are taken?

The advice on the ingestion of vitamin K after the administration of anticoagulant drugs is the following: to maintain a healthy diet, without major changes.

What is the recommended diet for people taking blood thinners?

As in any healthy diet, it is recommended:

  • Take 3 to 5 whole fruits (no juices) every day. The only fruit that is not recommended is grapefruit.
  • 1 plate of salad or vegetables at each meal.
  • Legumes (lentils, chickpeas, …), nuts, eggs, yogurt, kefir, white meat, fish, potatoes, sweet potatoes, rice, etc. are highly recommended.
  • Eliminate junk food: sugary, ultra-processed products of any kind, pizzas, soft drinks, pastries, cookies of any kind, etc.

What precautions should be taken in the diet if anticoagulant medication is used?

Licorice candies
Licorice candies. Those who take anticoagulant drugs should not eat licorice

Only in special cases should some warnings be added to the recommendations for people taking anticoagulant medications:

  • If this is the case, reduce the consumption of foods very rich in vitamin K and limit them to special or sporadic days (eg sauerkraut)
  • If this is the case, stop consuming licorice pills or candies.
  • If this is the case, avoid excessive consumption of food with fluidizing properties of the blood (grapefruit, onions, calçots, leeks and raw garlic). In this case, the contraindication is due to risk of bleeding (enhance the effect of anticoagulant drugs).
  • If this is the case, stop taking medicinal plants that may have a blood fluidizing effect, such as ginkgo. In this case, the contraindication is due to risk of bleeding (enhance the effect of anticoagulant drugs).

What foods are safe for people taking anticoagulant medications?

All the foods mentioned  in the section “Recommended diet for people taking anticoagulants” are safe.

Summary sheet of everything commented on the contraindication that exists between the high intake of foods very rich in vitamin K and anticoagulant drugs. Normal consumption of foods with vitamin K is recommended.

What foods should be controlled?

It is false that people who take anticoagulants should not eat foods with vitamin K. When the doctor administers an anticoagulant medication to a patient, he performs tests to see the coagulation rate and his vitamin K levels, which are in turn very related with the usual diet of the person.

In other words, the medication dose is adjusted to the current person and diet. Therefore, people should not fear eating vegetables because of their vitamin K content. What is important is not to drastically change the diet if these medications are taken. For example, fasting, detox diets or fruit juices are strongly discouraged.

punto rojo More information on vitamin K

This article was endorsed by Elisenda Carballido - Dietitian nutritionist. Postgraduate in Phytotherapy and master in Nutrition and Metabolism.
Written by Editorial Botanical-online team in charge of content writing

15 July, 2021

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