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Vitamin K Deficiency Linked to Inflammatory Bowel Diseases

Vitamin K crystals
With all the buzz surrounding vitamin K (special thanks to the calcium causing heart attacks study), more and more people are becoming interested in how to measure vitamin K status. In fact, I just had this discussion with a colleague yesterday, and as you'll see in the study I cover today, vitamin K status is measured somewhat indirectly by measuring the levels of uncarboxylated (inactive) osteocalcin. Remember, osteocalcin is the vitamin K-dependant protein produced in the bones, so by measuring levels of this, we can gauge how deficient someone is in vitamin K. If you want more on this, read the post where I covered vitamin K and osteocalcin.

Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory process in the digestive tract and patients with IBD develop osteopenia (low bone mineral density, but not yet osteoporosis). Although vitamins K and D are important for maintaining bone health and inhibiting inflammation, their roles in patients with IBD are not clear. So these researchers investigated the roles of vitamins K and D in the bone health and inflammation in patients with IBD...but I'll just focus on the vitamin K results here.

For this study 87 patients with inflammatory bowel disease (47 with Crohn's disease and 40 with ulcerative colitis) were selected. What was found was that serum undercarboxylated osteocalcin levels were significantly higher in patients with Crohn's disease, suggesting bone vitamin K insufficiency, and this was associated with clinical activity index of Crohn's disease.

The authors conclude, "Vitamins K...[is] insufficient in patients with IBD. Insufficiency of vitamin K is suggested to be associated with inflammatory processes of Crohn's disease."

Again, expect to hear more about this essential, but under-rated, nutrient. In relation to vitamin D's rise to fame, vitamin K is closely mimicking D's footsteps. If you're not already taking vitamin K supplements, you probably will be in the coming years -- just as most of you are now likely taking vitamin D supplements on a regular basis.

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Source: Association of vitamin K deficiency with bone metabolism and inflammatory bowel disease


  1. Replies
    1. I'm assuming you're referring to vitamin K deficiency being linked to IBD, correct? Well, it's quite simple. Patients with IBD have a reduced ability to absorb fat-soluble nutrients, and so it would be expected that they'd be low in vitamin K, just as this study found.


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