Published January 02, 2013
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is being treated with anti-coagulant medication due to a blood clot in her head. Blood clots form naturally in the body, and while they do not always cause problems, they become dangerous if they lodge in the heart or blood vessels and prevent blood from reaching its destination. Blood clots typically occur due to blood becoming stagnant, which can be caused by a number of factors.
According to the National Institutes of Health, anti-coagulants prevent blood from forming clots too quickly or easily. A laboratory measurement known as INR (International Normalized Ratio) is used to determine how long it takes the blood to clot and therefore determine the effects of oral anticoagulants on individuals to determine the correct dosage. When taking this medication it is extremely important to be aware that some foods can antagonize the action of anti-coagulants and cause serious effects. Making the wrong food selections could send Clinton straight back to the hospital.
Foods high in vitamin K should be especially monitored since it plays an important role in how the blood clots. Anti-coagulant medications such as Warfarin (Coumadin) work by directly interfering with how the body uses vitamin K and causes clotting to occur at a much slower rate.
It is not known what medication Clinton is taking for treatment.
The National Blood Clot Alliance states that it is crucial to maintain a balance between the medication and vitamin K. Once the medication is started, patients should avoid increasing their intake of vitamin K rich foods, because it can throw off the balance of the initially prescribed amount of anti-coagulant and affect the INR.
Clinton, and anyone else taking certain anti-coagulants, should talk to their doctor about whether or not they should monitor their intake of leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables – foods particularly abundant in vitamin K.
One 3.5-ounce serving of kale or Swiss chard contains between 800 and 830 micrograms of vitamin K and one half cup serving of broccoli and Brussels sprouts each contain over 100 micrograms.
Dried herbs such as basil, sage and thyme are also very high in vitamin K, as are fresh parsley and scallions. Salad dressings and cooking oils also hold higher Vitamin K levels than you may expect. Aim to reduce your intake of canola, olive and soybean oil and instead, try dressing your salad with sunflower or sesame seed oil. Chickpeas, lentils, liver and strawberries should also only be consumed in moderation. Be sure to check the vitamin K levels in your regular multivitamin. Though there is no universal recommendation, the Mayo Clinic suggests that daily values for vitamin K intake should be 120 micrograms for adult men and 90 micrograms for adult women.
Foods rich in vitamin K are not the only culprits of having effects on anti-coagulants. Mangos and papayas have been found to have a negative effect on medication when eaten in large amounts. Don’t add large quantities of these tropical fruits to your diet without consulting your doctor. Soy products have also been shown to decrease INR over time. The amount of soy needed to cause a disruption has not been determined which makes it important to keep soy intake consistent. This can be tricky since soy can hide in unexpected places including protein powders – so be sure to read labels carefully.
Large amounts of caffeine should be avoided, because it can increase the risk of bleeding. Limit caffeine intake to one or two cups per day. Even the increasingly popular goji berry juice should be avoided as it can also increase the risk of bleeding. Keeping a food journal is an easy way to keep danger at bay and monitor the overall consumption of potentially harmful foods.
Always check with your doctor before starting any new kind of diet.
Jacqueline Banks is a certified holistic health counselor and busy mama. Her focus is on helping other busy moms in all stages of motherhood keep themselves and their little ones healthy and happy. She uses natural and organic solutions to solve individual health problems and promote clean living.