Vitamin K is usually associated with clotting. It's a fat-soluble vitamin and comes from the German word "koagulation." Besides being instrumental in clotting, Vitamin K is really important in calcium-binding. Vitamin K plays an important role in bone health.
Healthy adults, those getting lots of exercise and eating a nutritional diet, generally have no vitamin K deficiency. But epidemiological studies show a relationship between vitamin K and age-related bone loss. Osteoporosis is a concern in senior health, especially among women. A heart study of over 800 elderly men and women, revealed that those with the highest diets of vitamin K had a 65% lower risk of hip fracture than those that consumed the least amount of vitamin K. A ten year nurse's study of over 72,000 showed that women eating food with the least amounts of vitamin K had a 30% higher risk of hip fracture than women who had diets rich in vitamin K.
The primary dietary sources of vitamin K are generally green leafy vegetables and some vegetable oils (soybean, cottonseed, canola, and olive).
Three vitamin-K dependent proteins have been isolated in bone: osteocalcin, matrix Gla protein (MGP), and protein S. Osteocalcin is regarded as a sensitive marker of bone formation. Vitamin K is required for the gamma-carboxylation or modification of osteocalcin. Under-modification or undercarboxylation (ucOC), badly affects its capacity to bind to bone mineral. A study of 7,500 elderly women showed that high levels of ucOC was predictive of fracture risk. These results could also show a deficency of both vitamin D and vitamin K.
Vitamin K1 is available in the USA without a prescription in multivitamin and other supplements. Acceptable doses range from 10-120 mcg per supplement. Vitamin K2, menatetrenone (MK-4), has been used to treat osteoporosis in Japan.
"Bone" supplements may contain 100 to 120 mcg of vitamin K. The heart study shows that an individual would need to eat a little more than 1/2 cup of chopped broccoli (102-141 mcg) or a large salad of mixed greens every day for a decreased risk of hip fracture.
The Linus Pauling Institute recommends taking a multivitamin-mineral supplement and eating at least 1 cup of dark green leafy vegetables daily. Vitamin K gives us a good foundation of bone health.
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