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Vitamin K, Rat Poison, and Strokes

author avatar Dr. Eric Berg 04/17/2024

While many people are prescribed Coumadin, not all of them are aware of the link it has with strokes, or how vitamin K can help them.

Learn about how Coumadin affects the body, how it can affect strokes, and why you should increase your vitamin K intake for optimal well-being.

Understanding Strokes and Their Causes

A stroke, often termed a 'brain attack,' occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted. This lack of oxygen-rich blood can cause brain cells to die rapidly.

What is a Stroke?

The consequences of a stroke depend on which area of the brain is impacted. It might lead to problems with speech, movement, or memory.

To understand strokes better, consider what happens when you turn off the water supply to plants; they wilt quickly because they're not getting vital nutrients—just like our brains during a stroke.

Blood clot illustration

The Role of Blood Clotting in Strokes

Blood clotting is essential in strokes as clots can block arteries leading to the brain.

The same thing happens in our body when clots form. Ischemic strokes, caused by these blockages, make up around 87% of all cases, according to this CDC report.

The Connection Between Vitamin K and Blood Clotting

Vitamin K is essential for our bodies, particularly in blood clotting.

The Function of Vitamin K in Our Bodies

Ever wonder why you don't bleed endlessly from a paper cut? Thank vitamin K. This nutrient activates specific proteins in your body that work together to form blood clots.

Without enough vitamin K, these protein pals can't do their job effectively, which may lead to excessive bleeding.

This process is crucial because without this internal system, we could face severe health issues.

Dietary Sources of Vitamin K

Leafy green foods are rich sources of vitamin K. Incorporating more leafy greens like spinach and kale into your diet will help you get enough vitamin K for optimal clot formation.

Other options like broccoli or Brussels sprouts are also excellent options.

Coumadin - A Common Anticoagulant

You might know Coumadin as a common medication for helping prevent blood clots and strokes. But how does it work, and why is it often the go-to prescription for doctors?

How Does Coumadin Work?

Think of your body as a complex highway system. Now imagine that vitamin K is like traffic signals guiding this system. It helps regulate blood clotting by ensuring proteins needed for clot formation get where they need to be.

Coumadin, however, acts like an unexpected roadblock on this highway. It blocks vitamin K from reaching its destination, disrupting the normal flow and preventing clots from forming.

Why is Coumadin Prescribed?

Doctors prescribe Coumadin mainly because of its anticoagulant properties. Its ability to prevent or slow down clot formation makes it essential in managing conditions prone to causing harmful clots, such as atrial fibrillation or after certain surgeries.

The Surprising Link Between Coumadin and Rat Poison

It might shock you, but your doctor's prescription could share ingredients with rat poison. Yep, that's right. The anticoagulant medication Coumadin, also known as warfarin, is often used to prevent strokes by slowing down the formation of blood clots.

The Active Ingredient in Both Coumadin and Rat Poison

Coumadin contains a key ingredient called warfarin. This compound has a fascinating history, as it was initially developed as a pesticide for rats and mice.

These little critters would eat the warfarin, which prevents their blood from clotting correctly, leading to internal bleeding.

Stress, Adrenaline, and Their Impact on Clotting

We often associate stress with mental health issues. Stress has physical implications beyond just the emotional ones. Blood clotting can be a physical consequence of stress.

The Stress-Clotting Connection

Have you ever wondered why some people have increased clot formation during stressful times? It's because of adrenaline, our body's fight or flight hormone.

Patients on anticoagulants such as Coumadin may be especially vulnerable to the effects of adrenaline, which can cause platelets to activate prematurely and increase clotting risk. High adrenaline levels can increase the likelihood of clots forming in these individuals.

A sudden surge in adrenaline can stimulate platelets (tiny cells that help your blood clot) into action prematurely. That could lead to a blockage in a crucial artery supplying the brain, causing what we commonly know as a stroke.

This is not intended to scare you off from using Coumadin if prescribed by your doctor but rather emphasize the importance of managing stress for overall cardiovascular health.

Vitamin K and K2 Relationship

The relationship between vitamin K and K2 is rooted in their distinct roles within the body. While both are essential for various health functions, they serve different purposes.

Vitamin K, encompassing K1 and K2 forms, primarily contributes to blood clotting. However, the crucial difference between vitamin K and K2's influence on calcium metabolism becomes apparent.

Vitamin K2, specifically as menaquinone, is significant in directing calcium to the bones and teeth, preventing its accumulation in arterial walls or soft tissues.

This relationship underscores the importance of obtaining Vitamin K and K2 balance through dietary sources or supplementation when necessary, ensuring optimal overall health and well-being.

Understanding this relationship is critical to harnessing the unique benefits of each vitamin for improved health outcomes.


Understanding the link between Coumadin, strokes, and vitamin K is crucial for managing overall health.

Coumadin, often prescribed to prevent blood clots and strokes, interferes with vitamin K's role in clot formation. However, vitamin K-rich foods like leafy greens are essential for proper clotting function, complementing Coumadin therapy.

Balancing vitamin K intake is vital, ensuring optimal blood clotting while on Coumadin. Awareness of these relationships provides valuable insights into managing cardiovascular health effectively.

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