Determinants of vitamin K status in humans

Vitam Horm. 2008:78:1-22. doi: 10.1016/S0083-6729(07)00001-5.


To understand the role of vitamin K in human health, it is important to identify determinants of vitamin K status throughout the life cycle. Our current understanding of vitamin K physiology and metabolism only partially explains why there is wide interindividual variation in vitamin K status, as measured by various biochemical measures. Dietary intake of vitamin K is one of the primary determinants of vitamin K status, and intakes vary widely among age groups and population subgroups. How dietary sources of vitamin K are absorbed and transported varies with the form and food source of vitamin K. Likewise, the role of plasma lipids as a determinant of vitamin K status varies with the form of vitamin K ingested. There is also some evidence that other fat-soluble vitamins antagonize vitamin K under certain physiological conditions. Infants are at the greatest risk of vitamin K deficiency because of a poor maternal-fetal transfer across the placenta and low vitamin K concentrations in breast milk. During adulthood, there may be subtle age-related changes in vitamin K status but these are inconsistent and may be primarily related to dietary intake and lifestyle differences among different age groups. However, there is some suggestion that absence of estrogen among postmenopausal women may be a determinant of vitamin K, status. Genetics may explain some of the observed interindividual variability in vitamin K, but to date, there are few studies that have systematically explored the associations between individual genetic polymorphisms and biochemical measures of vitamin K status.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging
  • Apolipoproteins E / genetics
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Carbon-Carbon Ligases
  • Diet
  • Drug Interactions
  • Estrogens / physiology
  • Genetic Variation
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Nutritional Status*
  • Vitamin K Epoxide Reductases
  • Vitamin K* / blood
  • Vitamin K* / genetics
  • Vitamin K* / physiology


  • Apolipoproteins E
  • Biomarkers
  • Estrogens
  • Vitamin K
  • Mixed Function Oxygenases
  • Vitamin K Epoxide Reductases
  • Carbon-Carbon Ligases
  • glutamyl carboxylase