Merdeka.com – Vitamin K refers to a group of fat -soluble vitamins and plays a role in blood clotting, bone metabolism, and regulating blood calcium levels.
The body needs vitamin K to produce prothrombin, a protein and clotting factor that is important in blood clotting and bone metabolism. Deficiency of this vitamin is rare. However, in severe cases, it can increase clotting time, cause bleeding, and result in excessive bleeding.
Phylloquinone, also known as vitamin K1, is found in plants. When people eat it, bacteria in the colon convert it to a form of vitamin K2. It is absorbed in the small intestine and stored in fatty tissue and liver.
Then, how does vitamin K function in babies?
The function of vitamin K in infants can prevent bleeding disorders which are currently rare, but potentially fatal cases. This fatal condition is known as ‘bleeding due to vitamin K deficiency’ or vitamin K deficiency bleeding (VKDB), also known as ‘hemorrhagic disease of the newborn’ (HDN).
This time, we will discuss more about the benefits of vitamin K for the body and also the function of vitamin K in babies that parents need to know.
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Benefits of Vitamin K
Vitamin K benefits the body in many ways. Reporting from Medical News Today, here are some of the main benefits of vitamin K for the body:
There appears to be a correlation between low intake of vitamin K and osteoporosis. Several studies show that vitamin K supports the maintenance of strong bones, increases bone density, and reduces the risk of fractures.
Elevated blood levels of vitamin K have been associated with improved episodic memory in older adults. In one study, healthy individuals over the age of 70 with the highest levels of vitamin K1 had the highest verbal episodic memory performance.
Vitamin K can help keep blood pressure lower by preventing mineralization, where minerals build up in the arteries. This allows the heart to pump blood freely throughout the body.
Mineralization naturally occurs with age, and is a major risk factor for heart disease. Adequate intake of vitamin K has also been shown to reduce the risk of stroke.
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Function of Vitamin K in Infants
In addition to some of the benefits previously mentioned, the benefits of vitamin K will also help the blood to clot. The benefits of vitamin K are also important for babies, even health experts recommend that all newborns get a dose of vitamin K when they are born.
The function of vitamin K in babies is to prevent your baby from experiencing bleeding that can occur in several parts of the body, such as the brain, stomach, and intestines. Bleeding due to vitamin K deficiency is called ‘vitamin K deficiency bleeding’ (VKDB).
Babies are at risk for VKDB during the first 6 months after they are born. That’s because most of the vitamin K that the body makes comes from the food we eat and the healthy bacteria in our gut. Until they start eating solid foods at about 6 months of age, babies don’t have enough naturally-produced vitamin K.
The function of vitamin K in babies is very important, because as quoted from pregnancybirthbaby.org.au, VKDB which causes bleeding into the brain, will result in brain damage or even death.
VKDB can be prevented by giving babies extra vitamin K, because babies don’t get enough vitamin K from the mother during pregnancy, or while they are breastfeeding, because breast milk alone cannot provide enough vitamin K to protect babies from VKDB. It is only at about 6 months of age that they can build their own supply.
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How to Give Vitamin K to Babies
The easiest and most reliable way for babies to get the effects of this vitamin K function in babies is by injection in the baby’s thigh muscle immediately after he is born. One injection right after birth that will protect the baby for months.
Reporting from the Alodokter page, vitamin K injections in babies can sometimes also be delayed up to 6 hours after the baby is born so that the mother can initiate early breastfeeding first. After vitamin K is injected, most of the vitamin K will be stored in the liver and used in the blood clotting process.
In addition to injection, giving vitamin K to babies can also be done by dripping vitamin K supplements in the form of drops. However, this method has poor absorption when compared to giving vitamin K by injection. Therefore, the administration of vitamin K to newborns is currently generally done by injection.