What Can You Eat While Taking Coumadin (Warfarin)?

Updated on October 20, 2018
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I am a medical transcriptionist, instructor, writer, photographer and dog trainer who writes on a variety of topics.

If you're taking blood thinners like Coumadin, you should aim for a consistent, moderate intake of vitamin K.
If you're taking blood thinners like Coumadin, you should aim for a consistent, moderate intake of vitamin K. | Source

Is There a Special Coumadin (Warfarin) Diet?

Yes and no. You should be mindful of the foods you are eating, but it's not all about how much you're eating. Because foods and medication often interact, to get the full benefit of the medication, the key is to keep your diet consistent day to day. In particular, you should make sure your daily vitamin K intake isn't fluctuating.

In this article, you will find the recommended daily intake of vitamin K as well as lists of foods that contain high, moderate, and low levels of vitamin K. It is recommended to discuss this information with your doctor before making any changes to your diet or treatment.

What Does Vitamin K Do, and What Does It Have to Do With Coumadin?

Vitamin K is produced by the liver is used to make blood clotting proteins. Since people who are taking Coumadin (warfarin) do so because they need to lower their blood’s clotting value, consuming excess vitamin K will basically reduce the medicine's action. If you're consuming vitamin K in excess, you can decrease the effects of the blood thinner. On the other hand, if you eat less vitamin K, you can increase the effects of the medication.

It is interesting to note that some of the newer anti-clotting medications (called NOACs or novel oral anticoagulants) do not have dietary restrictions associated with their use.

What Does the Coumadin Diet Entail?

People generally get lost in the concept of a "Coumadin diet" because they think that they have to eat less or more vitamin K to interact properly with Coumadin. This is not necessary. The most important thing to keep in mind is to make sure that your vitamin K intake stays relatively stable day to day. The problem occurs when there are large fluctuations your vitamin K intake while you're on Coumadin or another blood thinner.

So, What Does This Mean for You?

You don't have to avoid foods that contain vitamin K. This could actually lead to unwanted effects on your INR levels (the measure used to gauge the effectiveness of the blood thinner). According to Mayo Clinic, a normal INR level in a healthy person is 1.1 or lower. The safe level for PT/INR is generally recommended to be 2–3.

If you're taking blood thinners, you should have your PT/INR measured weekly—at least in the beginning. High PT/INR levels put you at risk of uncontrolled bleeding, and low PT/INR levels put you at risk of developing unnecessary blood clots.

Just make sure the amount of vitamin K consumed from day to day is kept consistent.

What Is the Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin K?

According to the National Institutes of Health, children that are 3 years old and younger should consume 2–2.5 mcg of vitamin K per day. This number dramatically increases for children 4 years of age up to 18 years of age, ranging from 55–75 mcg of vitamin K per day. Men 19 years of age and older require 120 mcg/day, while women 19 years of age and older require only 90 mcg/day.

Recommended Daily Intake of Vitamin K

Age
Male
Female
Pregnancy
Lactation
7-12 months
2.0 mcg
2.0 mcg
 
 
1-3 years
2.5 mcg
2.5 mcg
 
 
4-8 years
55 mcg
55 mcg
 
 
9-13 years
60 mcg
60 mcg
 
 
14-18 years
75 mcg
75 mcg
75 mcg
75 mcg
19+ years
120 mcg
90 mcg
90 mcg
90 mcg
Recommended daily intake of vitamin K sourced from the National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements.

Foods With High Levels of Vitamin K (90-1150 mcg/serving)

These contain more than the recommended daily dose of vitamin K.

  • Black tea (leaves), lower if brewed
  • Green tea (leaves), lower if brewed
  • Spinach noodles
  • Kale
  • Collards
  • Spinach
  • Turnip greens/beet greens/mustard greens
  • Green leaf lettuce
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Broccoli
  • Green onions
  • Parsley
  • Asparagus
  • Endive
  • Sauerkraut
  • Okra
  • Cabbage
  • Rhubarb
  • Plums, dried or stewed
  • Cowpeas or black-eyed peas

Foods With High Vitamin K Content

Food
Serving Size
Vitamin K (mcg)
Kale
cooked - 1/2 cup
531
Spinach
cooked - 1/2 cup
444
Collards
cooked - 1/2 cup
418
Swiss chard
raw - 1 cup
299
Swiss chard
cooked - 1/2 up
287
Mustard greens
raw - 1 cup
279
Turnip greens
cooked - 1/2 cup
265
Parsley
raw - 1/4 cup
246
Broccoli
cooked - 1 cup
220
Brussels sprouts
cooked - 1 cup
219
Mustard greens
cooked - 1/2 cup
210
Collards
raw - 1 cup
184
Spinach
raw - 1 cup
145
Turnip greens
raw - 1 cup
138
Endive
raw - 1 cup
116
Amount of vitamin K (mcg/serving size) in foods with high levels.

Foods With Moderate Levels of Vitamin K (30–60 mcg/serving)

  • Chinese cabbage
  • Iceberg lettuce
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Celery
  • Coleslaw
  • Edible pea pods
  • Savoy cabbage
  • Blueberries (FROZEN)
  • Pumpkin
  • Green peas
  • Tuna fish
  • Carrot juice
  • Spaghetti sauce
  • Mung bean sprouts
  • Cooked soybeans
  • Kiwi

Foods with Low Levels of Vitamin K

  • Tomato paste
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Blackberries
  • Fresh blueberries
  • Artichokes
  • Grapes
  • Cauliflower
  • Carrots
  • Miso
  • Cucumber
  • Snap beans
  • Vegetable soup
  • French fries
  • Raspberries
  • Salad dressings
  • Pine nuts
  • Fresh tomatoes
  • Stuffing
  • Potatoes
  • Pickles
  • Sodas
  • Juices
  • Alcoholic beverages—low, but alcohol can lead to bleeding problems so should be avoided
  • Condiments and sauces

Foods Low in Vitamin K

Food
Serving Size
Vitamin K (mcg)
Broccoli
raw - 1 cup
89
Cabbage
cooked - 1/2 cup
82
Green leaf lettuce
raw - 1 cup
45
Prunes
stewed - 1 cup
65
Romaine lettuce
raw - 1 cup
48
Asparagus
4 spears
48
Avocado
1 cup
34-48
Tuna
canned in oil (3 ounces)
37
Blueberries/blackberries
raw - 1 cup
29
Peas
cooked - 1/2 cup
21
Amount of vitamin K (mcg/serving size) in foods with low levels.

Foods With Very Low Levels of Vitamin K

  • Nuts
  • Lima beans
  • Squash
  • Mangoes
  • Duck
  • Beef stew
  • Oatmeal
  • Fruits
  • Muffins
  • Soy milk
  • Peppers
  • Soups
  • Beans

Additional Resources

For more information on Coumadin and vitamin K in your diet, visit organizational websites such as Stoptheclot.org or Clotcare.com.

WebMD, Mayo Clinic, as well as Coumadin's site also offer information on many things to consider when taking warfarin.

An Easy Way to Check Vitamin K Levels in Common Foods

Vitamin K Levels in Common Foods
Vitamin K Levels in Common Foods

It's always handy to have a trustworthy guide you can use to check how much vitamin K is in a certain food item. This is a great little tool that was recommended to me by the nurse at my health clinic.

 

Questions & Answers

    © 2010 Audrey Kirchner

    Comments

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      • profile image

        ken hunter 

        6 years ago

        is there a spefic list of meals for us on coumadin to control inr ? /

      • profile image

        Greta 

        6 years ago

        Thanks for the info I just started taking blood thinners and the Vitamin K info was very helpful. I am only 45 so I am hoping to get things leveled out so that I am not up and down on the blood thinners.

      • profile image

        bobbiroser 

        6 years ago

        good info

      • profile image

        Ron 

        7 years ago

        Amazing hub! Great read

        Ron from http://www.intervalstraining.net

      • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Kirchner 

        7 years ago from Washington

        Katie - Thanks so much for the read....I did the research for my mom who is supposed to be on it but refused! Good to know though down the road I guess!

      • katiem2 profile image

        katiem2 

        7 years ago from I'm outta here

        Great facts on the considerations to take while on Coumadin. We must all be careful to learn and research the special needs due to medications we are prescribed. Thanks for your helpful research on Im on coumadin do I need special diet. Good stuff and much health to you! :) Katie

      • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Kirchner 

        8 years ago from Washington

        Thanks for commenting fucsia - it is especially important to note for folks who are on blood thinners and eat a lot of leafy greens such as salads. It is not that it is contraindicated then but you just have to exercise a little more caution.

      • fucsia profile image

        fucsia 

        8 years ago

        grat hub whit ineresting informations

        I knew only a few foods high in vitamin k ..... I am not on coumadin but I'm interested in nutrition and I know many people who must use coumadin. thank's!

      • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Kirchner 

        8 years ago from Washington

        That would be question for the docs as everyone's body is different but I think the main thing is keeping the vitamin K level STEADY and not having super high vitamin K foods one day and then none the next - that is how I interpreted it from my research - but again, I'd always ask a physician or even more than one!

      • profile image

        njm 

        8 years ago

        can you mentian your pt inr blood level if you take the same amount of vitamin k daily

      • akirchner profile imageAUTHOR

        Audrey Kirchner 

        8 years ago from Washington

        Thanks, Darlene - there are so many millions of people on blood thinners these days it is kinda frightening! That coupled with a lot of them are elderly and they don't know a thing about how to manage it - equally frightening. My mom is actually supposed to be on it but she refuses - researching the foods that she could not eat though - bummer - she would be in trouble from the get-go! Thanks again for reading!

      • Darlene Sabella profile image

        Darlene Sabella 

        8 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

        Excellent hub my friend, I never knew any of this information and I learned so much from you. Thank you

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