A recent study conducted by Tufts University, Health Sciences Campus, published in May in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences, observed the association between biomarkers of vitamin K and mobility disability, which includes Osteoarthritis and Cardiovascular Disease. The study found that older adults with lower levels of vitamin K were increasingly prone to developing conditions that impacted their freedom of movement, which also correlates directly with their independence.
Vitamin K1, also known as phylloquinone, is made by plants, and is found in highest amounts in green leafy vegetables because it is directly involved in photosynthesis. It may be thought of as the plant form of vitamin K. It is active as a vitamin in animals and performs the classic functions of vitamin K, including its activity in the production of blood-clotting proteins.
Preliminary clinical research indicates that deficiency of vitamin K may weaken bones, potentially leading to osteoporosis, and may promote calcification of arteries and other soft tissues.
The study used data from 635 men and 688 women ages 70-79 years old, approximately 40 percent of whom were black, who participated in Health ABC. Mobility was assessed every six months for six to ten years through annual clinic visits and phone interviews in the intervening time.
Mobility limitation and disability, were defined as two consecutive semi-annual reports of having any or a lot of difficulty walking a ¼ mile or climbing 10 steps without resting, were assessed over a median 6-10 years of follow-up.
“Because of our growing population of older people, it’s important for us to understand the variety of risk factors for mobility disability,” said Kyla Shea, first and corresponding author and a nutrition scientist in the Vitamin K Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging (HNRCA) at Tufts University.”
Participants with plasma phylloquinone (vitamin K1) <0.5 nmol/L were more likely to develop mobility limitation and disability compared to those with higher levels. This linked to increased risk of mobility limitation and disability in older adults, identifying a new factor to consider for maintaining mobility and independence in older age, suggest the researchers.
“Low vitamin K status has been associated with the onset of chronic diseases that lead to disability, but the work to understand this connection is in its infancy. Here, we’re building on previous studies that found that low levels of circulating vitamin K are associated with slower gait speed and a higher risk of osteoarthritis,” Shea continued.
“The connection we saw with low levels of circulating vitamin K further supports vitamin K’s association with mobility disability,” said senior author Sarah Booth, a vitamin K and nutrition researcher, and director of the HNRCA.
“Although the two biomarkers we looked at are known to reflect vitamin K status, biomarker levels can also be affected by additional known or unknown factors. Further experiments to understand the mechanisms of biomarkers and vitamin K and their role in mobility are needed.”
Vitamin K Status and Mobility Limitation and Disability in Older Adults: The Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study.
M Kyla Shea, Stephen B Kritchevsky, Richard F Loeser, Sarah L Booth
The Journals of Gerontology: Series A, 2019; DOI: 10.1093/gerona/glz108
Vitamin K has been implicated in chronic diseases associated with increased risk for mobility disability, such as osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease. However, the association between vitamin K status and mobility disability is unknown. Therefore, we examined the association between vitamin K status and incident mobility disability in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study.
Plasma phylloquinone (vitamin K1) was categorized as <0.5, 0.5-<1.0 and ≥1.0 nmol/L (n=1323, 48% male). Plasma ucMGP, which increases when vitamin K status is low, was measured in 716 participants and categorized into tertiles. Mobility limitation and disability, defined as two consecutive semi-annual reports of having any or a lot of difficulty walking a ¼ mile or climbing 10 steps without resting, were assessed over a median 6-10 years of follow-up. Multivariate Cox proportional hazard models were used to evaluate the association between vitamin K status and incident mobility limitation and disability.
Participants with plasma phylloquinone <0.5 nmol/L were more likely to develop mobility limitation and disability compared to those with ≥1.0 nmol/L [adjusted HR(95%CI) mobility limitation: 1.27(1.05-1.53); disability: 1.34(1.01-2.76)]. After further adjustment for knee pain, the associations were partially attenuated [HR(95%CI) mobility limitation: 1.20(0.99-1.45); disability: 1.26(0.96-1.67)]. Plasma ucMGP was not associated with incident mobility limitation, but was non-linearly associated with incident mobility disability [HR(95%CI), compared to tertile 1: tertile 2=1.64(1.19-2.27), tertile 3=1.17(0.83-1.66), fully-adjusted].
Our results suggest vitamin K may be involved in the disablement process in older age. Future studies are needed to confirm our findings and clarify the underlying mechanism.
For more info: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/31056634
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