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Broccoli caused Dan Quayle's blood clot - not.

After the former Vice President was hospitalized because of a blood clot in his lung, his doctor told him to reduce his intake of vegetables rich in vitamin K, a nutrient that plays a crucial role in blood clotting. But there is no evidence that such vegetables (broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and other leafy greens) normally can cause blood clots, unless you are taking an anticoagulant drug (such as Coumadin), which Quayle began taking after his clot developed. Such medications decrease clotting by inhibiting the action of vitamin K, so consuming foods rich in this vitamin can defeat the anticlotting action of the drugs.

The advice given to Quayle by his doctor--"not to eat as many green vegetables as he does, and to eat a more regular, American diet"--would be a disastrous prescription for most of us. Healthy people don't need much vitamin K from food, since intestinal bacteria usually synthesize substantial amounts of K, but the vegetables are packed with vitamins, minerals, and other substances that we do need and benefit from.

People on anticoagulants should avoid large servings of green vegetables--and certainly shouldn't suddenly increase their intake of greens. But they usually can eat small portions of them, and are able to eat lots of other veggies that aren't particularly rich in vitamin K.

Tea & K

Which leads us to another misconception:

Myth: Tea is one of the richest sources of vitamin K.

Fact: That's true only if you eat large quantities of the leaves themselves. According to a new study by researchers at Tufts University, brewed tea contains virtually no K. Many nutrition textbooks misleadingly put green tea at the top of the K list--with 1,700 micrograms in eight ounces (the RDA is 65 to 80)--and many doctors therefore tell their patients on anticoagulants to skip green tea. In fact, after our last article on the potential benefits of green tea, a reader scolded us for not warning people on anticoagulants, like her, to avoid green tea. But what she and her doctor had never been told was that 1,700 micrograms is for eight ounces, by weight, of dried tea leaves, which would make hundreds of cups of brewed tea.

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Title Annotation:former VP's clot was not caused by vitamin K as his doctor stated; how vitamin K interacts with medications
Publication:The University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter
Date:Feb 1, 1995
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