Low Vitamin K in Children May Lead to Greater Risk of Fractures, New Study Shows

Jul 21, 2017

New study results recently presented at June’s International Conference on Children’s Bone Health in Germany indicate that children with low vitamin K2 status may be at greater risk of developing low-energy bone fractures. A low-energy bone fracture is defined as a fracture resulting from a fall that happens from standing height or lower. According to the researchers, while vitamin D, another bone-health nutrient, has been studied for its role in preventing fractures, this new study is the first to also take into account the role of vitamin K2 in preventing fractures.

In this unpublished study, researchers compared the nutrient status of children with clinically confirmed low-energy fractures and the nutrient status of a control group of children without fractures. The fracture group comprised 20 children between the ages of 5 and 15. The non-fracture control group comprised 19 healthy children between the ages of 7 and 17.

Researchers evaluated both groups of children, measuring their status of the following nutrients: total vitamin D (specifically, 25(OH)D3 plus 25(OH)D2), calcium, BALP (bone alkaline phosphatase), and NTx (N-terminal telopeptide; used as a biomarker to determine bone turnover, or bone formation). To measure vitamin K2 status, the researchers calculated the ratio of undercarboxylated (ucOC) osteocalcin and carboxylated osteocalcin (cOC) in each patient. An increase in this ratio, which researchers call “UCR,” indicates an increased risk of fracture.

According to researchers, while they found no significant differences between the two groups of children in terms of serum calcium, NTx, BALP, or vitamin D levels, they did find a statistically significant difference in the UCR, noting that the median UCR in the fracture group was 0.4709 compared with the control group value of 0.2445. In short, the researchers wrote, “Children with bone fractures have two times lower vitamin K status expressed by UCR than healthy controls.”

Could this study lead to more investigation on the link between vitamin K2 status and the risk of fractures in children? As the researchers said, “There is a scarcity of research examining the effects of vitamin K deficiency on bone health in children and adolescent populations."

These study results were reported by vitamin K2 supplier NattoPharma (Oslo, Norway) in June. “This is a significant study, as it supports what NattoPharma’s clinical research has already revealed: that children have the most pronounced K deficiency, making them most in need of vitamin K2 supplementation,” said Hogne Vik, chief medical officer, NattoPharma, in a press release. “Further, our research with healthy prepubertal children has also shown that just 45 mcg daily of K2 (as [NattoPharma’s] MenaQ7 [vitamin K2 MK7]) improves K status and increases the activation of osteocalcin, the K-dependent protein responsible for binding calcium to the bone mineral matrix, therefore improving bone health.”

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