Be cautious when you eat your veggies

I recently found myself at a dangerous blood level due to eating too much veggies rich in vitamin K.

I’ve never been a picky eater, yet I recently found myself carefully sorting garbanzos from a tasty salad made up mainly of assorted beans, Niblets corn, green onions, garlic and cherry tomatoes.

An urgent call from my family doctor had alerted me to a dangerously high blood test result.

Since suffering a blood clot in one leg years ago after a long car trip, I’ve been prescribed Coumadin, commonly known as Warfarin or rat poison.

Like many drugs, the right amount is helpful; too much or too little can be harmful. To regulate my Coumadin dosage, I must go to the lab for frequent INR or prothrombin tests.

A range of 2.2 to 2.7 permits me to take the blood test once a month. But if the result fluctuates up or down, I have to take the test more frequently until I’m in balance again.

An INR test result measures how many minutes blood takes to clot.

A too high measurement could lead to hemorrhaging or at the least prolonged bleeding in case of injury. Too low a result poses a danger of blood clotting in the heart of anyone with atrial fibrillation.

Foods rich in Vitamin K play havoc with Coumadin dosages exaggerating the blood thinning effects of the drug.

My INR spiked to 3.7. My doctor ordered me to return for a blood test two days later. That result was even higher – 4.0.

Food choices can imbalance INR results in short order, and that’s what happened to me last week. Not paying attention to my menu choices, I had eaten a succession of meals rich in Vitamin K.

Foods rich in vitamin K include kale, spinach, brussels sprouts, iceberg lettuce, romaine lettuce, cabbage or coleslaw, cauliflower, broccoli, turnips, garbanzos or chick peas, radishes, lentils, ginger, strawberries, green onions and garlic.

Green tea, too, causes the INR to fluctuate but I rarely drink green tea or eat green onions or strawberries.

I blame my blood clotting spike on a new packaged salad I bought made from kale, brussels sprouts and romaine with a Greek yogurt dressing. Yummy.

The package contained plenty for three meals. Rather than have one meal of this salad interspersed by usual fare, I enjoyed one serving after another until the package was empty.

Why wait until the last serving was wilted? The result was predictable, if only I had been mindful of it.

Fortunately I just happened to be scheduled for a blood test so the spike was soon caught.

My Coumadin dose was cut back to compensate, and I was instructed to get a follow-up blood test two days later.

My first action was to review my meal diary where I write down the foods I eat each day. The diary began years ago as a way to track my weight.

Since the blood clot scare 12 years ago the diary has in addition given me a daily check on my Vitamin K choices. That’s important to me because I avoid trips to town whenever I can; a trip to the lab once a month is no hassle, but more frequent trips because I selected foods that juggled my INR levels … That troubles me.

Despite a fridge loaded with cauliflower, broccoli, and turnip, on my own I curtailed my choices to salads made from veggies with negligible Vitamin K content – tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, carrots.

Druggists, when they fill prescriptions for Coumadin, could do patients a big favour by printing a list of foods with high Vitamin K content, information I found scarce even on internet medical sites.

Claudette Sandecki keeps a close on what’s on her plate from her home in Thornhill, B.C.

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