Bruising Easily: Causes and Solutions
Do you bruise easily or often find bruising with no clear cause?
Most of the time, bruising easily doesn’t signify an underlying health condition—but it may be a sign of vitamin deficiency.
Low vitamin K1 is the most common culprit behind purple patches and minor bruises that seem to come from nowhere.
Let’s go over some of the reasons why you may be experiencing easy bruising.
What are bruises?
Most bruises show up as black and blue marks on the surface of the skin. Also known as ecchymosis or contusion, bruises are the result of capillary damage or damage to the body’s small blood vessels.
When blood vessels break and bleed underneath the skin, red blood cells are dispersed, and a bruise develops on the skin’s surface. White blood cells then work to repair the damaged blood vessels.
You can expect a bruise to appear on your skin when you incur physical trauma. Unexplained bruising can be worrisome, but it’s usually not caused by an underlying health condition.
Oftentimes, easy bruising doesn't require treatment and can be prevented with diet and lifestyle changes.
Check out this video to learn about some of the causes of frequent bruises without injury.
What causes bruising without trauma?
Rarely, bruising without trauma can be caused by an underlying health condition like leukemia, certain types of cancers, bleeding disorders, clotting disorders, or genetic disorders.
The majority of the time, people who are prone to bruising are dealing with a vitamin deficiency.
A deficiency in vitamin K1 can cause frequent bruising because vitamin K1 is responsible for clotting factors in the body. Whether you experience a minor bump, a fall, or even sports injuries, blood clots are necessary to stop bleeding.
A vitamin K1 deficiency can be caused by a lack of vitamin K1 in the diet, certain medications, antibiotics, viruses, and bile deficiencies.
Blood thinners and other medications can deplete vitamin K, consequently causing you to bruise easily. Here are some of the medications that are often the culprit behind unexplained bruises.
Blood thinners like warfarin directly block the absorption of vitamin K1. Warfarin is designed to thin the blood to prevent a blood clot. This drug is even used in rat poison to cause rats to bleed to death.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like aspirin can have a similar effect on blood clotting.
The microbes in your gut have the capacity to make vitamin K1 and convert vitamin K1 to vitamin K2. Antibiotics kill bad bacteria but also kill the friendly bacteria in your gut. This can cause you to become deficient in vitamin K, leading to easy bruising.
The bacteria in your gut also make a secondary type of bile salt. Bile is essential for extracting vitamin K and other fat-soluble vitamins from your food. If you wipe out your microbes with antibiotics, you won’t have the necessary bile to extract vitamin K from your foods.
Statins are drugs that block the production of cholesterol, an essential component of bile salts.
If you don't have enough cholesterol, you can’t make enough bile salts to absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin K1. Consequently, a common side effect of statins is bruising.
Prednisone is a steroid that can also cause frequent bruises. It blocks both vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. This causes an inability to make strong bones and causes more osteoporosis than any other medication.
Prednisone is very hard on the gallbladder and inhibits bile production, further reducing the absorption of vitamin K and other fat-soluble vitamins.
Orlistat is a weight loss pill that helps you burn fat. It lowers bile output from the liver, which inhibits the body’s ability to absorb adequate vitamin K1, leading to bruises.
Thrombocytopenia, a side effect of orlistat, affects your platelet levels and can cause you to bruise easily.
Other causes of bruising easily
A deficiency in vitamin C can cause easy bruising. If you don't have enough vitamin C, your blood vessels weaken. Symptoms of a vitamin C deficiency include spider veins, spongy gums, and periodontal issues.
Fatty liver disease, adrenal weakness, low calcium, and low vitamin D can also contribute to bruising easily.
How to stop bruising easily
One of the best ways to stop bruising so easily is to increase your vegetable intake. The average American only consumes 1.5 cups of vegetables per day. To get adequate vitamin K1 and vitamin C, you need to eat 7 to 10 cups of vegetables each day.
This article published in the British Journal of Medicine highlights the best foods for replenishing vitamin K1.
Some fear that excess vitamin K will cause blood clot formation—but this isn’t something to worry about. Excess vitamin K1 acts as a potent anti-inflammatory agent in the body.
Some vitamin K1 is also converted to vitamin K2 in the bowel. Vitamin K2 is vital for preventing calcification in your arteries and joints.
Gut health is very important in preventing bruising. This is why bruising is a common symptom of conditions that affect the gut microbiome, including ulcerative colitis, celiac, and Crohn’s.
Fermented foods like sauerkraut and natto help feed the beneficial bacteria in your gut.
Because of vitamin K1’s important role in helping your blood clot, it’s important to get enough from your diet and pay attention to which medications may interfere with absorption.
Increasing your vegetable consumption will help improve your intake of essential vitamins and minerals. This will help your blood form clots properly, strengthen your blood vessels, reduce unexplained bruises, and improve your overall health.
1. Why do I bruise easily?
People bruise for a number of different reasons. Vitamin deficiencies are one of the most common causes of bruising without injury.
2. What causes bruising without trauma?
Medical conditions and viruses can sometimes cause bruises to appear on the skin. Vitamin deficiencies, medications, antibiotics, fatty liver disease, and bleeding disorders can all cause bruises to appear on the skin without any major or minor injuries.
3. What nutrient deficiencies cause easy bruising?
Oftentimes, vitamin K deficiency is the cause of unexplained bruising. Blood thinners like warfarin and other medications interfere with the absorption of vitamin K, which plays a vital role in the blood’s ability to clot.
Vitamin C is important in maintaining the strength of your blood vessels. A deficiency can cause your capillaries to weaken, resulting in bruising.
4. What does it mean if you bruise easily?
Most unexplained bruises are directly or indirectly related to vitamin K1. Certain medications interfere with the absorption of vitamin K1 in the body, resulting in frequent bruising.
5. How can I stop bruising easily?
Consuming 7 to 10 cups of vegetables per day can help with both your vitamin K1 and vitamin C intake. Dark, leafy vegetables like parsley and kale are especially rich in vitamin K1. It’s always best to get your vitamins from whole food sources rather than dietary supplements.
A healthy microbiome plays a crucial role in maintaining healthy vitamin K levels. Fermented foods like sauerkraut, kimchi, and natto can help restore your microbiome.
6. Do you bruise more as you get older?
Older adults might experience easy bruising because the fatty layer of skin becomes thinner as they age.