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ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
11/8/13 1:11 P

LOL - you've got a good point there, Russell, about it mayhaps being a bit difficult to talk the USDA in to a change!

I'm glad you brought up the soy issue --- I don't eat the stuff, so I always forget about it.

I guess we should also mention that tobacco smoke contains Vitamin K, so smokers or those who are subjected to frequent second-hand smoke need to take that in to consideration as well.

It's all about individual response, so frequent testing is pretty much necessary until we and our docs work out the best thing for ourselves. I guess the main take-home is that it would be nice to have the tool available here for those, like me, who have figured out the "base line" where the main variable that we need to worry about is the range of Vitamin K each week, and have a good feel for what variety of foods we can use to keep the INR in line.

I'm kinda glad this thread came back - you've brought out some things that I haven't had to think about in a while, and it's always good to be reminded!


RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
11/8/13 12:55 P

Iced, I think you have a better chance of convincing SP, than the USDA. I just was pointing out that it might not be the huge benefit that most people think it is. You are assuming that mg of Vitamin K are the only concern. Soy affects me more than greens, so I would have a lower INR, on less mg of Vitamin K. People might find that in sticking to a certain amount of Vitamin K, they have wildly different results, based on the kind of food they eat to get that Vitamin K. This is just as important as total Vitamin K, and putting the focus on just that, may be harmful.

Still, I understand that there is no reason to not have the ability to track the nutrient, just until now there hasn't been the demand. I have no idea why phosphorous is able to be tracked, but Vitamin K isn't, so as long as demand is higher, I think they may add it.

ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
11/8/13 11:06 A

Russell, you are absolutely correct that for folks who follow an eating plan like yours, tracking Vitamin K would be just an additional chore with no benefit.

I, however, am nowhere near as disciplined as you are, and tend to eat according to mood and desire. The idea of having to eat the same vegetables in the same quantities every week gives me the screaming heebies!

I've been on warfarin for about 1-1/2 years now, and have also maintained my INR between 2.0 and 2.5. I've done this while still eating to my mood, by looking up the Vitamin K contents and knowing that I need to keep within a certain range each day. I personally need the freedom to know that it doesn't matter if I hit that range with spinach, or broccoli, or brussels sprouts, or asparagus, or whatever other thing I get a craving for (yes - I get cravings for these). As was mentioned earlier, it just would be nice to be able to track this here so that I didn't have to use different sites to give me the freedom that I want with my menus.

Yes, it would be a pain to have to enter every vegetable separately, which is why it would be nice if the USDA data-base would include it. Even if they don't, though, I would still find it easier in the long run to take the time once to enter each item here in to my Favourites so that the info is there for me every day. It's likely that I'm on this med for life, so an inconvenience of a few days of data-entry would be a worthwhile investment for me.

Although slightly off-topic, I do want to mention in this thread that a couple of other things that impact your INR and warfarin dosage are losing weight and changes in amount of exercise. Our doctors need to be aware that we are doing either of these, and may choose to test more often to be able to adjust dosages as needed.

RUSSELL_40 Posts: 16,826
11/8/13 7:35 A

I can understand the desire to track the Vitamin K. I have been on Coumadin for about 2 years now.

The problem is, you would have to look up the levels of every single food, and put it into manually entered foods, even if SP added Vitamin K as a trackable option. The reason for this is that it is not a requirement to be on food labels, so it isn't. It is not that SP isn't required to track, but the food labeler.

So even if SP added it, you would have to look up the levels yourself, manually enter every food, and only then would you get an accurate number. Of course, they track many things that have the same problem, and it is why people track a nutrient, and think they are low. Lots of people think they are low on potassium, but it just isn't required to be counted on most labels, so they get a number lower than they actually consume. What usually happens with this, is confusion.

Last of all, I have no idea what levels of Vitamin K are good for me, while on Coumadin. I don't keep track of it like that. I know soy, and greens are a problem, and limit myself to 2 salads a week, or a few Tbsp.'s of mayo, and keep the level consistent, and my INR stay between 2.0-2.5. I know of no one who keeps their number constant by counting mg's of Vitamin K.

By simply eating the same levels of greens every week, you will let your doctor adjust your dose, and then just eat the same way every week.

I don't know if tracking it would be helpful, but there are many nutrients that SP allows to be tracked that require as much diligence to get an accurate accounting of your consumption of said nutrient. So I see no reason not to track Vitamin K, since they allow you to track phosphorus, or thiamine, which are probably only labeled on cereal boxes.

Just be aware that the ability to track it, might not be the wonderful help that you think will help you control your INR numbers. Sticking to a set number of cups of green, leafy veggies every week will still work better, probably.

AZULVIOLETA6 SparkPoints: (0)
Fitness Minutes: (74,443)
Posts: 3,293
11/7/13 3:40 P

This is a good idea. I am not on Warfarin now, but I was for a while many years ago, and being able to track Vitamin K would have been a HUGE help.

Instead of 0 where the quantity is unknown, couldn't some sort of null sign/symbol be used?

Edited by: AZULVIOLETA6 at: 11/8/2013 (11:20)
TRWAGNER1 Posts: 85
11/7/13 6:22 A

I'll add my request to this. I would use SparkPeople more often if I could track my vitamin K. I'm on warfarin as well and keeping my vitamin K levels consistent from day to day is very important.

While I understand reporting vitamin K isn't required by law, why should that be an excuse not to provide that as a service? In my opinion, that is scapegoating. When you try to call and get an answer from Campbells, they say the same thing. Yet, one of the foods you are warned about when going to get your INR tested in consumption of V8 because it contains spinach and, therefore, hidden amounts of vitamin K.

Realistically, I understand it would be difficult for SparkPeople to add this. The nutritional data entered often depends on the shared input of the community when they enter foods.

The same challenge of trying to locate and use vitamin K nutritional data exists elsewhere and for the same reason(s).

In my opinion, vitamin K should be available to track. While there's no way to "confirm" the data because it's not "required by the government", over time the community will help correct that by confirming and/or correcting the data as it is found.

Here are some alternate locations I found to help with tracking are the following links:

These links are valid as of 11/7/2013:

Vitamin K Food tracker (PDF form)

Vitamin K nutrient finder:

I hope this post is useful to others.


ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
6/27/13 1:06 P

Thanks, Anarie - that makes a lot of sense.

I do wonder, though, if Spark could possibly add the ability to "add your own" to nutrients tracked, so that those of us who do need to track something not on the list would have the ability to include it on this tracker instead of having to do a separate spreadsheet and track all of our foods twice.

This "add your own" could be noted with a reminder along the lines of "This item is not included in any database item and will have to be added manually with information from another database. SparkPeople is not responsible for the accuracy of information not supplied by them."

It would be a chore initially for anyone to use this, since all nutritional info on all foods would have to be added manually, but it sure would save time in the long run.

I have been pondering a way to still track it here, and the only thing I've been able to come up with is to add "Vitamin K" as a manually entered "food", and put in the "servings" as the mcg the USDA database shows for the foods in each meal. Still a pain to have to bounce back and forth between pages, but at least it would keep the info all in one place (and save me from having to create my own complete database!).

Ah well... pipe dream, I guess. Thanks again for taking the time to explain further!

Edit to add: I have looked at some of the on-line Vitamin K trackers and haven't been impressed with either the ease of use, or the completeness (or lack there-of) of the data. It still would be nice to be able to do all tracking in one place, instead of two.

Edited by: ICEDEMETER at: 6/27/2013 (13:09)
ANARIE Posts: 13,246
6/27/13 12:45 P

By the way, if you Google "Vitamin K tracking," there are a few online systems and apps designed for that, and most of them also let you track your INR results. I would be really wary and do a lot of checking to make sure they don't have the same gaps as this one, but if they're properly designed, specialized tools like that would be the best option.

ANARIE Posts: 13,246
6/27/13 12:35 P

"Granted, to be somewhat accurate, it means that we have to get the info on them from other sources for items not in the Spark database."

That's exactly the key. YOU understand this. A lot of people who are new to taking Warfarin, have just sort of stumbled upon this site wouldn't immediately realize it, and that's a problem, ESPECIALLY if they're not getting good medical guidance. (And let's face it; most Americans don't.)

The other things that you can track (inaccurately) are generally not as crucial as Vitamin K in a warfarin patient. Very few people have a condition in which it would be dangerous to get a little more zinc than they thought, but if you're on Warfarin, the amount of vitamin K in something like, say, a frozen dinner or a serving of packaged soup could make a serious difference. Those things won't have data for K in the database; they would show up in the tracker as 0. Since it would be hard to make sure that everyone using the tracker understands right away that there might be missing information, it's safer not to present that option. This is a case where inaccurate information could be a lot more dangerous than not making it possible to track here. Since there's no option, a new user realizes immediately that they have to find a different, more reliable tool.

With Vitamin K, the number of people who could be hurt by a "best we can do" report is probably a lot higher than the number who would benefit from it. A tracker like this is okay for making sure you get enough of a micronutrient, but it sucks for making sure you don't get too much.

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 67,127
6/27/13 10:35 A

Thanks for your feedback! Yes, you are correct that the majority of the entries in our food database come from the USDA. I'll see if we can pass along that request for future updates.


Coach Jen

ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
6/27/13 10:08 A

Hi Coach Jen!

I'm a bit confused by your answer here, as there are numerous items that aren't required to be listed on nutrition labels (B12, zinc, magnesium for a few quick examples off the top of my head) that we are able to track here. Granted, to be somewhat accurate, it means that we have to get the info on them from other sources for items not in the Spark database.

If I'm not mistaken, the Spark database is coordinated with one supplied by the USDA, and I'm thinking that the problem is that the USDA data doesn't include info on Vitamin K. If that's correct, would it be possible for Spark to pass along our request to see if this is something that they can include in future updates?

The reason it's important to those of us taking warfarin (Coumadin) is that Vitamin K counteracts the medication. We need to maintain a consistent Vitamin K intake as they base our dosage on that, in order to keep a consistent INR. It's not a matter of needing to increase or decrease our Vitamin K levels - we just need to know what we're having so that we can keep it consistent.

Many thanks!

ICEDEMETER Posts: 1,332
6/27/13 9:51 A

I absolutely agree with you!

I'm not sure that it's possible without a complete re-do of the database, though, since there isn't a listing for Vitamin K included.

The USDA vitamin listing is useful if you want to track it manually, though:

I did that for a while, and found that I'm pretty consistent, so don't track it on a daily basis any more. You've reminded me that I should probably do it again for a few days to make sure that I'm still keeping it steady - thanks!

SPARK_COACH_JEN Posts: 67,127
6/27/13 9:37 A

Vitamin K is not required to be reported on a food label. So it might be in a lot of the products you're eating, but because it's not reported, the data you'd get in your tracker won't be accurate. That's why we don't make that a reporting option.

Vitamin K can be made in your digestive tract by the billions of bacteria that are in your intestines. Some of these bacteria synthesize vitamin K that your body can then absorb. Good food sources include green-leafy vegetables such as spinach and broccoli, pork, liver, whole wheat, oats, and bran. Fair sources include fruits, vegetables, seeds, tubers, milk, and eggs.

Coach Jen

GFLAWNMAN SparkPoints: (12,469)
Fitness Minutes: (26,965)
Posts: 1
6/27/13 8:34 A

For those of us on coumadin(warfarin) it would be very helpful to be able to track Vitamin K.

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