Results of a study published in the latest edition of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition (AJCN) indicate that a diet insufficient in vitamin K increases the risk for hip fracture in older men and women. That was the conclusion of scientists at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for Aged Research and Training Institute who looked at 335 men and 553 women participating in the Framingham Heart Study. Institute researchers Douglas P. Kiel, M.D., M.P.H. and Marian Hannan, D.Sc., are contributing authors on the paper that appears in AJCN.
The study set out to look at the association between vitamin K and bone mineral density (BMD). Although the study indicated no correlation between dietary intake of vitamin K and BMD, the relationship between vitamin K intake and hip fracture was significant. Individuals in the highest quartile of vitamin K intake were as much as 65 percent less likely to suffer fracture.
Vitamin K is needed for proper bone formation and blood clotting, in both cases by helping the body activate certain proteins so they function properly. This new evidence of its relationship to fracture suggests that vitamin K could someday be used as a treatment for osteoporosis. However, clinical trials are needed. “This study confirms emerging data that links adequacy of dietary vitamin k to bone health. It also suggests the possibility that it is important to look at fractures as well as bone density in studies such as this,” says Dr. Kiel.
Fracture poses a particular health threat to seniors, often precipitating a decline in over all health status leading to comorbid conditions and in worst cases, death. Future studies by this group will investigate the relation between serum measurements of vitamin K and bone health.
As Associate Director for the Research and Training Institute, Dr. Kiel conducts a variety of research projects aimed at preventing or treating conditions that compromise skeletal health as people age, including fractures and osteoporosis. In addition to her work on fractures, Dr. Hannan is the Institute's resident expert on arthritis.