Broken bones are more of a concern as people age but new research shows that risk can be mitigated by upping the intake of a specific vitamin. Researchers at Edith Cowan University in Australia found higher levels of vitamin K led to fewer fractures in older women who took part in their study.
Broken bones, especially hip fractures, are a greater danger in the elderly because they can lead to a loss of mobility and independence which can lead to a diminished quality of life and a higher mortality risk.
That’s why researchers from Edith Cowan teamed up with colleagues at the University of Western Australia to look into fracture-related hospitalizations and vitamin K1. They wanted to see if there was a common denominator between those who were more susceptible to breaks than those who stayed fracture-free.
Using data from the Perth Longitudinal Study of Aging Women, scientists looked at the health of 1,400 women over a period of more than 14 years. It showed women who had on average more than 100 micrograms of vitamin K1 per day were 31 percent less likely to have any fracture compared to those who consumed less than 60 mcg.
It takes one-to-two servings of dark leafy vegetables like kale and spinach to equate to 100 mcg of vitamin K. Vitamin K has also been shown in other studies to enhance cardiovascular health.
When it came to hip fractures, the numbers were even better. Those who had high levels of vitamin K intake were half as likely (49%) to break a hip and be hospitalized.
"Our results are independent of many established factors for fracture rates, including body mass index, calcium intake, Vitamin D status and prevalent disease," said Dr. Marc Sim. "Basic studies of vitamin K1 have identified a critical role in the carboxylation of the vitamin K1-dependant bone proteins such as osteocalcin, which is believed to improve bone toughness.
"A previous ECU trial indicates dietary vitamin K1 intakes of less than 100 micrograms per day may be too low for this carboxylation," he said. "Vitamin K1 may also promote bone health by inhibiting various bone resorbing agents."
Dr. Sim suggests consuming more than 100 mcg of vitamin K1 on a daily basis if possible.
"Consuming this much daily vitamin K1 can easily be achieved by consuming between 75–150g, equivalent to one to two serves, of vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage," he said.
"It's another reason to follow public health guidelines, which advocate higher vegetable intake including one to two serves of green leafy vegetables—which is in-line with our study's recommendations."