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Effects of vitamin K on calcium and bone metabolism

Zittermann, Armin

Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care: November 2001 - Volume 4 - Issue 6 - p 483-487
Review Article

The K vitamins, a group of napthoquinones, are required for the carboxylation of a limited number of proteins including the bone matrix protein osteocalcin. Vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) and vitamin K2 (menaquinones), differ regarding food source (green vegetables and fermented products, respectively), bioavailabilty and intermediate metabolism. Epidemiological studies provide evidence for an association between a low vitamin K intake and an enhanced osteoporotic fracture risk. Doses of vitamin K1 up to 15 times the current recommended dietary allowance have successfully been used to reduce the percentage of undercarboxylated osteocalcin in the circulation. Studies demonstrating clear beneficial effects on bone health, however, are still lacking. In contrast, therapy with very high pharmacological doses of the vitamin K2 menatetrenone has impressively been used to prevent further bone mineral loss and fracture risk in osteoporotic patients.

Department of Nutrition Science, University of Bonn, Germany

Correspondence to Armin Zittermann PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Nutrition Science, University of Bonn, Endenicher Allee 11-13, 53115 Bonn, Germany. Tel: +49 228 732 016; fax: +49 228 733 217; e-mail:

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.