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Originally published December 18 2008

New Study Shows Vitamin K Important For Juvenile Bone Development

by David Gutierrez, staff writer

(NaturalNews) Adequate levels of vitamin K play in a central role in the development and maintenance of healthy bones in children, according to a study conducted by Dutch researchers from the Universities of Maastricht and Utrecht and published in the journal Clinical and Experimental Rheumatology.

The researchers measured the vitamin K status and bone mineral content (a measure of bone health) of 55 children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis and 54 children with healthy bones. All participants were between the ages 6 and 18.

Juvenile idiopathic arthritis is the most common childhood disease of the joints and connective tissues. Approximately one in 250 children in the United States suffers from the disease.

Among children with juvenile idiopathic arthritis, higher levels of vitamin K were significantly correlated with improved measures of bone health and strength. Among the healthy children, no relationship was found between vitamin K levels and bone health.

However, children with better bone health tended to have a lower ratio of undercarboxylated osteocalcin to carboxylated osteocalcin. Vitamin K is essential for the activation (carboxylation) of osteocalcin, which itself plays a vital role in incorporating calcium into bone tissue. This finding thus suggests that higher vitamin K status was in fact linked to better bone health in healthy children as well.

"These findings suggest that improvement in vitamin K status, and thus in the amount of active osteocalcin, might significantly improve bone health in children, even in those with arthritis," co-author Leon Schurgers said.

Prior studies have linked better vitamin K status in children to improved bone mass.

Some forms of vitamin K are synthesized in the human gut, while others can be acquired from green, leafy vegetables and some fruits such as kiwifruit or avocado. The researchers noted that they could not yet determine from the current study if improved dietary vitamin K intake could lead to improved bone health.

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