Coumadin Dietary Restrictions: What to Avoid During Warfarin Therapy

Vitamin K is the vitamin required to initiate blood coagulation, which is helpful in managing bleeding disorders. Clots can travel through arteries and cause stroke or heart attack. Coumadin or warfarin is an anticoagulant, which means that it thins out the blood, is used to control clotting rate by diminishing vitamin K effects. When on warfarin therapy, certain foods and beverages need to be avoided as they may interfere with the efficacy of the drug. Coumadin dietary restrictions include certain vegetables, dietary supplements, vitamins, and even herbal products.

Vegetables You Need to Avoid

Vegetables that are rich in vitamin K are usually the dark green, leafy vegetables. Though these vegetables can have an effect on the effectiveness of the drug, they should not be eliminated from the diet.  These vegetables are rich in fiber and can be good sources of important nutrients.  If eating green leafy vegetables has been part of your normal diet already, make sure you consume a consistent amount of the vegetables to keep vitamin K levels in your bloodstream also consistent. Examples of dark green vegetables include broccoli, spinach, lettuce, green turnip, and cabbage.

Beverages to Avoid

Green tea, along with herbal teas that contain sweet clover, tonka beens, or sweet woodruff should be avoided when on warfarin therapy. Cranberry juice should also be avoided or consumed only in small amounts as it can increase the effects of warfarin. Alcohol can also increase the side effects of Coumadin.

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Herbal Preparations

Certain herbal products may also interact with warfarin. These are black cohosh, alfalfa, chamomile, garlic, ginger, bromelain, celery, gingko biloba, licorice, horseradish, parsley, and onion.

Dietary Supplements

Dietary supplements that contain vitamin K can interact with warfarin. If you take such supplements, consume it consistently to avoid significant fluctuations of vitamin K levels in the body. Vitamin C at doses above 500mg per day can lower INR results. INR or International Normalized Ratio measures the tendency of the blood to clot, which also shows the efficacy of warfarin. Vitamin E at more than 400IU/day can elevate INR levels.

Coumadin Therapy Requires Strict Monitoring

The therapeutic range, or the concentration at which the drug is effective, of warfarin vary greatly which is strict monitoring is required. The therapeutic range is affected by medication, dietary changes, or illness.  The normal INR range in patients taking warfarin is 2.0-3.0. If you have lower levels of INR even with warfarin, it may indicate that you have thick blood consistency, making you at risk for strokes. A higher INR result indicates you have thinned blood which makes you at risk for bleeding. Your physician may adjust Coumadin dosage based on the fluctuations of INR levels.

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