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Vitamin K2 supplements reduce bone loss in women

Vitamin K2 supplements reduce bone loss in women

Friday, March 29, 2013. An article that appeared online on March 23, 2013 in the journal Osteoporosis International reports the outcome of a trial conducted by researchers in the Netherlands which found a benefit for supplementing with vitamin K2 in postmenopausal women—a group that has an increased risk of developing osteoporosis.

Two hundred forty-four women between the ages of 55 and 65 years were divided to receive 180 micrograms of menaquinone-7 (MK-7, a form of vitamin K2) or a placebo daily for three years. Lumbar spine, hip and femoral neck bone mineral density and bone mineral content, and vertebral fracture assessment were obtained by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) upon enrollment and yearly until the trial's conclusion. Femoral neck bone strength and vitamin K status as determined by the ratio of uncarboxylated to carboxylated osteocalcin were additionally assessed at these time points.

Women who received MK-7 had improved vitamin K status and a significant reduction in the decline of bone mineral content and bone mineral density of the femoral neck and lumbar spine in comparison with those who received a placebo. While women in the placebo group experienced the expected age-related decrease in bone mineral content and density in the lumbar spine, these values had decreased by less than 1 percent in those that received vitamin K in comparison with measurements obtained at the beginning of the study. Participants who received vitamin K also had better bone strength and a reduction in the loss of vertebral height in the middle site of the lower thoracic region after two and three years of supplementation.

"Long-term use of MK-7 supplements significantly decreased the age-related decline in bone mass and strength," authors M. H. J. Knapen and colleagues write. "We conclude therefore that postmenopausal women may benefit from taking MK-7 supplements to prevent the age-related bone loss."

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Study defines osteocalcin's role in preventing fracture

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Research described online on November 5, 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reveals a significant role for the protein osteocalcin in strengthening bone and reducing fracture risk.

By studying bone on a microscopic scale, Deepak Vashishth of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York and his associates found that fractures begin with the formation of dilatational bands measuring approximately 100 nanometers in size. The holes, which function as a defense mechanism by helping to prevent further damage to surrounding bone following an impact, can lead to fracture if the bone is deficient in osteocalcin and/or another bone protein known as osteopontin. "This study is important because it implicates, for the first time, the role of osteocalcin in giving bone the ability to resist fracture," stated Dr Vashishth, who is the head of Rensselaer's Department of Biomedical Engineering. "Since osteocalcin is always the point of fracture, we believe that strengthening it could lead to a strengthening of the overall bone."

For osteocalcin to be absorbed, it needs to be carboxylated by vitamin K. Increasing osteocalcin by boosting vitamin K intake could therefore be a useful strategy to help prevent osteoporosis. "Currently, all of the advice for treating osteoporosis is related to calcium," Dr Vashishth observed. "We believe there's more to the story than just calcium, and the results of this new study raise an important question about vitamin K. Leafy green vegetables are the best source of vitamin K—wouldn't it be great if eating spinach and broccoli was not only healthy, but also good for your bones? We plan to investigate this link in future."

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