Vitamin K Status and Lower Extremity Function in Older Adults: The Health Aging and Body Composition Study

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2016 Oct;71(10):1348-55. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glv209. Epub 2015 Nov 17.


Background: While low vitamin K status has been associated with several chronic diseases that can lead to lower extremity disability, it is not known if low vitamin K status is associated with worse lower extremity function.

Methods: Vitamin K status was measured according to plasma phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and dephosphorylated-uncarboxylated MGP (dp-ucMGP) in 1,089 community-dwelling older adults (mean ± SD age =74±3 years; 67% female). Lower extremity function was assessed using the short physical performance battery (SPPB), gait speed, and isokinetic leg strength. Linear regression and mixed models were used to determine the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between vitamin K status and functional outcome measures.

Results: Cross-sectionally, higher plasma phylloquinone was associated with better SPPB scores and 20-m gait speed (p ≤ .05). After 4-5 years, those with ≥1.0nM plasma phylloquinone (the concentration achieved when recommended intakes are met) had better SPPB scores (p = .03) and 20-m gait speed (p < .05). Lower plasma dp-ucMGP (reflective of better vitamin K status) was associated with better SPPB scores and leg strength cross-sectionally (p ≤ .04), but not longitudinally. Neither measure of vitamin K status was associated with walking endurance or with the rate of decline in function.

Conclusion: Older adults with higher vitamin K status had better physical performance scores at baseline, but data are less consistent longitudinally. Since lower extremity disability is a common consequence of multiple chronic diseases for which a role of vitamin K has been suggested, future studies are needed to determine if vitamin K supplementation could improve function in those with vitamin K insufficiency and clarify underlying mechanism(s).

Keywords: Nutrition; Physical function; Physical performance; Vitamin K.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Body Composition*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Lower Extremity / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Strength / physiology
  • Physical Endurance
  • Vitamin K / blood*
  • Walking Speed / physiology


  • Vitamin K