Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

My husband is on blood thinners, what should he eat?

Thank you for that question. There are many people who have been prescribed blood thinning medications to help keep their blood from forming dangerous clots and may need to manage their diet to prevent potential food/drug interactions.

Blood thinners, also called anticoagulants such as heparin, warfarin, enoxaparin, clopidogrel bisulfate, work to lengthen the time it takes for your blood to clot. For many people who could be harmed by blood clot formation in their circulatory system, blood thinners are a necessity.

There are also antiplatelet drugs such as aspirin that prevent platelets from clumping into a clot. You may be prescribed both types of medications.

People who have a circulatory problem including poor blood flow to the brain, risk for stroke or heart attack or formation of blood clots in their veins are usually prescribed blood thinners. These will be needed for their lifetime.

Doctors will also prescribe anticoagulants after orthopedic surgery such as hip replacement or during recovery from a bone fracture. These will only be needed for a short time and stopped when recovery is complete.

Whether your husband needs them for a long or short time, dietary precautions are usually needed to prevent interactions with these medications. Some drugs such as rivaroxaban do not require dietary restrictions, so be sure to discuss with your doctor if you need to monitor your diet.

Food Concerns While Taking Blood Thinners

Vitamin K works in our bodies to clot our blood. It is often called the clotting vitamin.

Many foods contain vitamin K in amounts that could inhibit the action of blood thinning medications which try to keep the blood thin as it increases clotting and the diet should therefore be managed. Experts recommend keeping the amount of vitamin K consumed to a consistent level.

Does that mean you should avoid everything with vitamin K? No, but you need to know which foods contain vitamin K and be aware of the amount you might be ingesting so that it can be taken in consistent amounts each day without great fluctuations. Sudden changes in the amount of vitamin K in your diet can lead to clotting problems.

Foods High in Vitamin K – Food/Drug Interactions

These foods are considered high in vitamin K and should be managed for consistency. You could try to eat one per day or one every other day or one per week to maintain a consistent amount.

If you take a multivitamin with Vitamin K, be sure to take it every day to maintain a consistent intake of its amount of vitamin K. Read the label to be sure you are getting the lowest dose of vitamin K in your multivitamin. Nutritional supplement shakes also contain vitamin K so drinking the same amount each day will maintain a consistent intake. That is, avoid drinking one container one day and three the next — be consistent.

  • Dark green leafy vegetables: collard greens, turnip greens, spinach, kale, swiss chard, parsley, romaine lettuce
  • Brussel sprouts
  • Cabbage
  • Lentils
  • Broccoli
  • Beef liver

Some nutritional supplements or herbal products can interact with medications and should be discussed with your doctor such as fish oil, Co-enzyme Q10, green tea and ginkgo biloba.

Review the amount of alcohol that you should consume with your doctor as well since it can impact the effect of your anticoagulants. Many over-the-counter medications can also interfere with your anticoagulant and should be discussed with your doctor or pharmacist before taking.

Awareness and management of vitamin K will help keep your blood at the required thinness to avoid dangerous health outcomes.

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