Purpose: The role of vitamin K in the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and arterial calcification is examined.
Summary: Vitamin K is essential for the activation of vitamin K-dependent proteins, which are involved not only in blood coagulation but in bone metabolism and the inhibition of arterial calcification. In humans, vitamin K is primarily a cofactor in the enzymatic reaction that converts glutamate residues into gamma-carboxyglutamate residues in vitamin K-dependent proteins. Numerous studies have demonstrated the importance of vitamin K in bone health. The results of recent studies have suggested that concurrent use of menaquinone and vitamin D may substantially reduce bone loss. Menaquinone was also found to have a synergistic effect when administered with hormone therapy. Several epidemiologic and intervention studies have found that vitamin K deficiency causes reductions in bone mineral density and increases the risk of fractures. Arterial calcification is an active, cell-controlled process that shares many similarities with bone metabolism. Concurrent arterial calcification and osteoporosis have been called the "calcification paradox" and occur frequently in postmenopausal women. The results of two dose-response studies have indicated that the amount of vitamin K needed for optimal gamma-carboxylation of osteocalcin is significantly higher than what is provided through diet alone and that current dosage recommendations should be increased to optimize bone mineralization. Few adverse effects have been reported from oral vitamin K.
Conclusion: Phytonadione and menaquinone may be effective for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis and arterial calcification.