If you’re on the blood thinner warfarin, you’ve almost certainly been warned to steer clear of foods rich in vitamin K.
It’s probably THE most common advice given to folks taking these drugs.
In fact, you likely get to hear the “stay away from K” recommendation again every single time you go in have your levels checked.
But now new research finds this popular advice could land you in hot water. Or even worse, it could turn out to be downright dangerous.
The trouble is it’s based on an oversimplification. And that mistake could have devastating consequences for your health.
Following it may even end up making it MORE DIFFICULT to control your anticoagulation levels.
The warfarin mistake nearly everyone makes
They tell you to cut way back on greens. Or, better yet, avoid them altogether.
Can you imagine hearing that when you were just eight years old? Spinach and Brussels sprouts off the menu for good? Best day of your life, hands down.
But of course these days your far fonder of your greens. Plus, you know those veggies provide you with a BUNCH of necessary nutrients including that vitamin K.
And that’s where the warfarin advice comes in.
Since K and warfarin don’t play nice together, docs often urge patients to avoid foods that are rich in the vitamin… especially green vegetables.
They’re so strict about it that it’s easy to start feeling downright paranoid. Before long, you may find yourself convinced that eating one little side salad could kill you.
Well, get ready to chow down on collards and munch on mustard greens again. Because the new study finds that while you do need to keep an eye on your green vegetables when you are on warfarin, there’s no reason to fear them.
It turns out that, like with most things in life, it’s all about balance and consistency.
In fact, people who get consistent and sensible levels of K-rich foods such as greens have BETTER outcomes than those who don’t.
Better INR blood levels WITH greens
In the new study, patients with a history of unstable anticoagulation levels were given one of two types of advice.
- generic nutritional counseling
- specific advice on getting consistent K levels through daily diet
You’ve probably noticed I’ve used the word consistent a couple of times. There’s a reason for that. It’s the key here. Eating no green veggies one week and then bags full the next is a set up for failure too.
After six months, the folks in the K group were more than twice as likely to achieve stable anticoagulation levels. Half of them reached that ideal, versus just 20 percent of the patients give generic diet advice.
Naturally, this DOESN’T mean you can eat boatloads of green vegetables or ignore your doctor’s advice. But if you’re on warfarin, it DOES mean you don’t have to fear K-rich greens anymore.
So go ahead and have a chat with your doc about what this study means for you. And ask about sensibly introducing more greens back into your diet.
Don’t forget that means keeping your levels pretty consistent. The new study aimed for 90 micrograms of vitamin K per day in women, and 120 micrograms per day for men.
When you make the switch, your doc may want to test your levels more often than usual at first to ensure your INR levels remain in balance as your K levels rise.
And while you’re there for that chat go ahead and ask your doc if you need the warfarin at all. Some people don’t, based on the latest research and guidelines, and you could be one of them.
Or you may be eligible to make the switch to natural blood-thinning therapies such as nattokinase or turmeric, depending on your situation.