Vitamin K is essential for blood coagulation and plays an important role in extrahepatic metabolism, such as in bone and blood vessels, and in energy metabolism. This review discusses the assessment of vitamin K sufficiency and the role of vitamin K in bone health. To elucidate the exact role of vitamin K in other organs, accurate tools for assessing vitamin K deficiency or insufficiency are crucial. Undercarboxylated vitamin K-dependent protein levels can be measured to evaluate tissue-specific vitamin K deficiency/insufficiency. Vitamin K has genomic action through steroid and xenobiotic receptor (SXR); however, the importance of this action requires further study. Recent studies have revealed that the bone-specific, vitamin K-dependent protein osteocalcin has a close relationship with energy metabolism through insulin sensitivity. Among the organs that produce vitamin K-dependent proteins, bone has attracted the most attention, as vitamin K deficiency has been consistently associated with bone fractures. Although vitamin K treatment addresses vitamin K deficiency and is believed to promote bone health, the corresponding findings on fracture risk reduction are conflicting. We also discuss the similarity of other vitamin supplementations on fracture risk. Future clinical studies are needed to further elucidate the effect of vitamin K on fracture risk.
Keywords: bone; fracture; osteocalcin; vitamin K deficiency; vitamin K requirement; vitamin K-dependent proteins.