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Vitamin K and musculoskeletal health in postmenopausal women.


Aside from its important role in blood clotting, vitamin K is an important dietary factor in regulating bone and cartilage mineralization. The vitamin K requirements to maintain musculoskeletal health may be more than the current recommendations and subclinical vitamin K deficiency may be involved in the pathogenesis of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis. Observational studies suggest that diets low in vitamin K are associated with increased risk of fractures and osteoarthritis in older adults. However, so far randomized controlled trials of vitamin K supplementation in Caucasian populations have not shown clinically significant improvements in bone mineral density at major skeletal sites. Supplementation with vitamin K may reduce the risk of fractures, but this conclusion comes from clinical trials with methodological limitations. At this time, only one randomized controlled trial has examined the effect of vitamin K supplementation on radiographic hand osteoarthritis and found no overall effect. Large well-designed randomized controlled trials are needed to compare the efficacies of vitamin K1 and K2 on fractures and osteoarthritis among older adults. In summary, currently there is not enough evidence to recommend the use of vitamin K supplements for the prevention of bone loss, fractures, or osteoarthritis in postmenopausal women.