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Women with the highest vitamin K1 intake were nearly half as likely to require long-term hospitalization due to hip fracture compared to women with the lowest intake, a recent study shows. Those with higher vitamin K1 intake were nearly one-third less likely to experience any kind of fracture that required hospitalization.

Researchers tracked hip fractures among more than 1,300 older women (70 years and older) living in Australia for about 15 years. They also assessed the women’s vitamin K1 intake using food frequency questionnaires and measured their blood vitamin D concentrations.

They found that nearly 11 percent of the women experienced a hip fracture and 28 percent experienced any type of fracture that required hospitalization during the study period. When compared to women with the lowest vitamin K1 intake, those with the highest intake were 49 percent less likely to require hospitalization due to hip fracture and were 31 percent less like to require hospitalization due to any type of fracture. This was true regardless of the women’s vitamin D status.

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that participates in blood clotting, bone metabolism, prevention of blood vessel mineralization, and regulation of various cellular functions. The body has limited vitamin K storage capacity, so the body recycles it in a vitamin K redox cycle and reuses it multiple times. Naturally occurring forms of vitamin K include phylloquinone (vitamin K1) and a family of molecules called menaquinones (vitamin K2). Vitamin K1 is synthesized by plants and is the major form of vitamin K in the diet.

The findings from this study suggest that vitamin K1 is essential for bone health in older women and underscore the importance of adequate dietary intake of this essential nutrient. The study investigators noted that just one or two servings of vitamin K1-rich foods daily were sufficient to achieve levels high enough to protect against fracture. Sources of vitamin K1 include kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and other green leafy vegetables.

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