Broken bones can be life-changing events—especially as we age, when hip fractures become particularly detrimental and can lead to disability, reduced independence, and a higher risk of death.
However, research from Edith Cowan University’s Nutrition and Health Innovation Research Institute suggests 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 examined the relationship between fracture-related hospitalizations and vitamin K1 intake in nearly 1400 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 — the equivalent of about 125g of dark leafy greens, or one to two servings of greens — had a 31 percent lower risk compared to participants who consumed a less than 60 micrograms per day, which is the current guideline for adequate vitamin K intake in Australia for women.
Results were even more positive for hip fractures, with those who consumed the most vitamin K1 almost halved their risk of hospitalization (49 percent).
Director of Studies Dr. Marc Sim said the results are 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 in fracture rates, including body mass index, calcium intake, vitamin D status, and predominant disease,” he said.
“Basic studies on vitamin K1 have identified a critical role in carboxylation of the vitamin K1-dependent bone proteins such as osteocalcin, which is thought to improve bone strength.
“A previous ECU study suggested that dietary intakes 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 get in excess of 100 micrograms of vitamin K1 daily — and thankfully, it’s not too difficult.
“Daily intake of that much vitamin K1 can be easily achieved by consuming between 75 and 150g of vegetables like spinach, kale, broccoli and cabbage, which is equivalent to one to two servings,” he said.
“This is another reason to follow public health guidelines that advocate higher intakes of vegetables, including one to two servings of leafy greens — which is in line with our study’s recommendations.”
Foods rich in vitamin K1
vegetables: Kale, spinach, broccoli, green beans
fruit: plums, kiwi, avocado
Materials provided by Edith Cowan University. Note: Content can be edited for style and length.