With the birth of my baby coming closer, I have been researching the role of the vitamin K routinely given at the time of birth in Australia. Vitamin K may be given by injection or several oral doses. However there is a lot of conflicting information available (and over the years my trust in pharmaceutical companies, medical professionals and government health departments has been waning).
Vitamin K is considered to be essential to give to newborns soon after birth, as babies are born with little vitamin K – apparently vitamin K does not cross the placenta (however – fat soluble vitamins, such as vitamin K, DO cross the placenta – conflicting piece of information #1!), but babies will create their own vitamin K in their gut (as children and adults do) and reach suitable levels by around 6 weeks of age.
What does vitamin K do? Vitamin K aids with blood clotting – without vitamin K, small wounds may continue to bleed. Vitamin K is thought to be important to prevent haemorrhagic disease of the newborn (HDN) which could lead to serious bleeding in the brain, resulting in stroke or even fatality.
However, as I said, there is a lot of conflicting information surrounding this issue, which I believe comes down to the fact that we just simply do not understand all of nature’s mysteries yet – and the role of apparent low vitamin K levels in the newborn is one of these mysteries.
The form of vitamin K found in the injections and oral doses is synthetic, rather than the natural form vitamin K1 which is found in leafy green vegetables, or vitamin K2 which is found in butter. Coming from a natural philosophy, I prefer to stay away from anything artificial or synthetic unless absolutely necessary.
Along with being the synthetic form of vitamin K, the other ingredients in the injection are also questionable – preservatives, antimicrobials, antifreeze and phenol (which is known to be toxic) just to name a few. A newborn baby is unable to metabolize these potentially dangerous ingredients as their liver does not even begin to function until a few days after birth!
As a result, it has been thought the vitamin K injection can be linked to childhood leukemia however studies have concluded that there is no link between the vitamin K injection and childhood cancers.
In Australia, the vitamin K injection has been routinely given to newborn babies for over 20 years now, and as a result Australian babies do not get HDN (haemorrhagic disease of the newborn), which would indicate that the vitamin K injection is important in preventing this haemorrhaging.
Personally, I also hate the thought of subjecting my newborn baby, who is still trying to adjust to the atmospheric conditions outside of my body, to a painful injection. A peaceful beginning to life will help bring more peace to our world.
So what is my personal conclusion? I believe that babies are meant to have low vitamin K levels (for some unknown reason) – nature makes us as nature intended. But as a natural method for transferring vitamin K to my baby, I will be eating loads of foods rich in vitamin K during these last few weeks of pregnancy and during the first few weeks after birth so the vitamin K will transfer to my baby through my placenta and/or breastmilk.
Foods high in vitamin K include:
- fresh and dried herbs
- leafy greens like kale, dandelion greens, spinach, cress
- spring onions
- brussel sprouts
Try adding 1 tbsp of fresh parsley to your meals for a good boost of vitamin K, make green smoothies with 1 cup of chopped kale plus your favourite fruits, and eat your greens! Also, make some nettle tea – add a small handful of dried nettle leaves to 2 litres of freshly boil water, cover and let steep overnight. Chill if desired and drink through the day in place of water (is also quite refreshing with some freshly squeezed lemon juice or thinly sliced lemon!), and do this a few times a week.
I have created a printable as an easy reference for foods high in vitamin K (if you are like me and very pregnant and forgetful, it would be handy to print and put on your fridge or somewhere else in your kitchen so you are reminded!). Click here or the image below to download your vitamin K printable:
Disclaimer: this information is not meant to replace any information given to you by a medical professional. I am not a doctor or qualified health professional. These are simply my own conclusions from my own research.
Share your views on giving vitamin K to newborns in the comments below :)