The term vitamin K encompasses two related compounds: vitamin K1 or phylloquinone, which is synthesized by plants, and vitamin K2 or menaquinone, which is produced by bacteria. Vitamin K is needed for the synthesis of many of the body’s calcium-binding proteins. The first to be discovered was the calcium-binding proteins involved in blood clotting, ie, prothrombin and clotting factors VII, IX, and X. Vitamin K deficiency decreases the prothrombin content of the blood. Clotting time increases, and bleeding often occurs anywhere in the body, either spontaneously or after a bruise.

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