Saturday, February 11, 2012

Vitamin K: shot or not?

Tonight I gave Weston his third-to-last dosage of vitamin K. Over the next two weeks I will give him his final two doses, 2 drops of liquid (oral) vitamin K. The regimen required 2 drops daily for the first week, and 2 drops once a week for an additional 11 weeks.

Our midwife, Joan Bryson, emphasized the importance of not skipping vitamin K completely. I had read a lot of information about the K shot not being a good thing but was on the fence about whether we needed to administer vitamin K at all. I like to believe that a proper diet rich in all the fat-soluble vitamins (including K) will be all we need. I took vitamin K as a supplement while pregnant and drank nettle tea. I also ate lots of wonderful aged raw cheese from summertime grass-fed cows' milk--all important things to do to make sure as much vitamin K as possible passes through to the developing baby. (The food highest in K, natto, was not readily available to me and also seemed extremely unappetizing, but if you like it then the more power to you! It's very rich in vitamin K.)

It seems that Joan and the other NYC home birth midwives have encountered more than their fair share of cases where parents either skipped the K completely or didn't administer all the doses of the oral drops as they should have, and the baby developed infant hemorrhagic disease. According to international statistics these cases are extremely rare-one in 10,000 or so, but in her experience it happens MUCH more frequently than that (perhaps because our diets are poor in this important fat-soluble nutrient). Joan told me about seeing a baby who needed a brain shunt--his little head shaved from the operation. How horrible!

But since there is speculation that the K shot is associated with childhood leukemia I definitely didn't want to go that route. I settled on the oral K drops from Birth With Love. At $31.00 it is a much higher price than the $14.00 injectable K, but well worth the extra cost.

Aside from ensuring healthy blood clotting will take place if the baby is cut or bruised, vitamin K is crucial for developing a proper bone structure, including a handsomely broad face with high cheekbones--which in turn will ensure proper development of the jaw and plenty of room for all the teeth to come in straight. For a wealth of fascinating details on how proper nutrition can make our kids beautiful (and healthy!) see the book Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Foods.


  1. Colostrum is also high in vitamin K!

    We did the same - skipped the shot and went for the drops. I think ours was olive-oil based. Only I took them, too. And we only took them for 2-3 weeks.

    But the kicker is that the only 2 newborn procedures required by NY State Law are the Vit K shot and the PKU/Heel stick/Screening test. Unfortunately, unless one has a home birth, it's virtually impossible to avoid Vit K in the form of a shot. ;(

    1. Thanks, Vanessa, you bring up some great points. Yes, if born in the hospital I suppose you would have to be EXTREMELY on top of things to make sure drops were administered instead of a shot. You would also have to bring your own drops since hospitals don't provide them.

      As with all nutrients, in order for breastmilk (or colostrum) to be rich in specific nutrients those nutrients must be present in the mother's diet. Goose liver (probably other livers, too), aged raw cheese from grass-fed cows, natto (fermented soybeans -- eat it if you can get it!), are good things to have in your diet during pregnancy. We can also synthesize vitamin K at the gut level, so a healthy gut is very important. I will write more about this in an upcoming post on preparing your body for transmitting healthy microflora to your baby.

  2. I'm expecting twins. Is there enough in one bottle for two babies or do I need to buy two bottles?

  3. I would buy two to be safe. We just gave away the rest of our bottle and there was definitely some left, but I don't think it was the full dosage amount.

  4. Yeah, I also heard how beneficial vitamin k, especially its K2 form, to the bones. How is Weston now?