Broken bones can be life-changing events, especially as we age, when hip fractures can become particularly damaging and lead to disability, reduced independence and a higher risk of mortality.
But research from Edith Cowan University’s Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute has found that there may be something you can do to reduce your risk of fractures later in life.
In collaboration with the University of Western Australia, the study looked at the relationship between hospitalizations related to fractures and vitamin K1 intake in nearly 1,400 older Australian women over a 14.5-year period from the Perth Longitudinal Study of Aging Women .
It found that women who consumed more than 100 micrograms of vitamin K1 — equivalent to about 125 g of dark leafy greens, or one to two servings of vegetables — were 31 percent less likely to experience fractures compared to participants who consumed less than 60 micrograms per day, which made the current guideline is for adequate vitamin K intake in Australia for women.
There were even more positive results regarding hip fractures, with those who ate the most vitamin K1 cutting their risk of hospitalization nearly in half (49 percent).
Study leader Dr Marc Sim said the results were further evidence of the benefits of vitamin K1, which has also been shown to improve cardiovascular health.
“Our results are independent of many established factors for fracture rate, including body mass index, calcium intake, vitamin D status and current disease,” he said.
“Basic studies of vitamin K1 have identified a critical role in the carboxylation of the vitamin K1-dependent bone proteins such as osteocalcin, which is believed to improve bone hardness.
“A previous ECU study indicates that a dietary intake of vitamin K1 of less than 100 micrograms per day may be too low for this carboxylation.
“Vitamin K1 may also promote bone health by inhibiting various bone resorbing agents.”
So, what should we eat – and how much?
Dr. Sim said the ideal is to eat more than 100 micrograms of vitamin K1 a day — and luckily it’s not that hard to do.
“Consuming this much vitamin K1 daily can be easily achieved by consuming between 75 and 150 g, equivalent to one to two servings, of vegetables such as spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage,” he said.
“It’s one more reason to follow public health guidelines, which advocate higher vegetable intake, including one to two servings of leafy green vegetables — which is consistent with our study’s recommendations.”
Vitamin K1 rich foods
Vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, green beans
Fruits: Plums, kiwi, avocado
Material supplied by Edith Cowan University. Note: Content is editable for style and length.