There are some general dietary guidelines that you should follow while taking Coumadin. Sudden changes can lead to dangerous problems, so it is important to eat a consistent diet during treatment. It is recommended that you not consume too much vitamin K, but overall, there are no foods that must absolutely be avoided with a Coumadin diet.
What Is a Coumadin Diet?
Coumadin® (warfarin sodium) is a prescription anticoagulant medication. One of the downsides of this medication is that it interacts with many different foods and beverages. While there is no specific diet for people taking Coumadin, there are general guidelines that should be followed to help improve the safety of the medication.
Foods to Avoid While Taking Coumadin
You may have heard that you must give up certain foods while taking Coumadin. Your healthcare provider may even have told you this. However, this is one of the most widespread bits of drug misinformation out there. At one point, it was believed that people taking Coumadin should avoid certain types of foods. However, it is now understood that eating a consistent diet is more important.
Therefore, there really are not any foods that absolutely must be avoided while taking Coumadin. Instead, there are general guidelines that will help you in your food choices.
The Science Behind Diet and Coumadin
In order to understand the dietary recommendations for people taking Coumadin, it is important to first understand how the medication works. Blood clotting is a complex process that involves many different substances in the body, known as clotting factors, and several different steps. Coumadin works to inhibit blood clotting by decreasing the formation of active forms of certain clotting factors.
Some clotting factors require vitamin K to be converted into their active forms. Although this reaction changes vitamin K into an unusable form, the body can recycle it back using an enzyme known as vitamin K epoxide reductase. Coumadin blocks this enzyme, inhibiting the recycling of vitamin K and, thereby, decreasing the formation of the active clotting factors.
If a person taking Coumadin consumes much more vitamin K than he or she usually does, this will make the medication less effective, which could increase the risk of blood clots. Similarly, if he or she consumes less vitamin K, this could increase the effects of the drug, perhaps even causing a Coumadin overdose.
Once you understand how vitamin K affects Coumadin, it is easy to see that completely cutting out all foods high in vitamin K is not necessary and could even be dangerous, if you do so without your healthcare provider's supervision. Instead, you simply need to try to keep your vitamin K intake fairly consistent.