- Women's Health
Treating Heavy Periods with Vitamin K
Menorrhagia, excessively heavy or long-lasting periods, is a common problem among women and girls. It is commonly treated with the use of birth control pills, and in severe cases, sometimes even hysterectomy.
Heavy menstrual bleeding can be a sign of serious underlying conditions, including uterine fibroids or cancer, so it is important to get checked out by a doctor if your periods are, or suddenly become, too heavy or too long.
However, if ultrasounds and other test have not revealed any abnormalities and you are unable or unwilling to go on the Pill, modern medicine may offer limited help.
One well-documented but little-known cause of menorrhagia is a deficiency of Vitamin K.
Functions of Vitamin K
Vitamin K helps the body maintain healthy blood clotting. Insufficient clotting is one possible cause for excessive menstrual flow. If you have unusually long or heavy periods but do not experience much clotting, there is a good chance your menorrhagia is caused by a deficiency of vitamin K. If you do experience heavy clotting, your menorrhagia probably has another cause, such as excessively high estrogen levels.
Other signs of vitamin K deficiency might include easy bruising and excessive bleeding from small cuts or scrapes.
Vitamin K also has other benefits for women's health. It contains anti-inflammatory agents that reduce the risk of osteoporosis and acts as an antioxidant in some forms, reducing damage to the body by free radicals.
Sources of Vitamin K
The best sources of vitamin K are leafy green vegetables, such as Romaine lettuce, and fermented soy products such as miso.
Cruciferous vegetables such as cabbage, broccoli, and kale have also large amounts of vitamin K, but contain other agents that may inhibit its full absorption.
Healthy acidophilus bacteria, which is found in yogurt, kefir, and similar fermented dairy products containing live cultures, manufactures Vitamin K in the body. This is the easiest type of Vitamin K for the body to absorb.
High intake of Vitamin E and calcium (such as by supplementation) can inhibit Vitamin K absorption, as does aspirin, mineral oils, X-rays, and other radiation. Freezing destroys it. Antibiotics kill healthy intestinal bacteria such as acidophilus and reduce the body's production of vitamin K.
Consult a doctor before increasing your intake of vitamin K if you have any history of blood clots, stroke, pulmonary embolism, or similar problems, or if you are taking blood thinning medications.
Because excessive intake of vitamin K also has adverse health effects, it is best to get vitamin K from dietary sources, rather than pills or other supplements. In particular, excessive levels of vitamin K can lead to excessive blood clotting, which is another possible cause for menorrhagia. (Frustrating, I know. If I've learned one thing through all my research on the connection between menstrual health and diet, it's the importance of balance!) If your periods tend to have heavy clotting, or if they get heavier or more painful after increasing dietary vitamin K, your menorrhagia may be caused instead by excessive levels of estrogen.