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J Gravit Physiol. 1998 Oct;5(2):65-9.

Bone markers during a 6-month space flight: effects of vitamin K supplementation.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Maastricht University, The Netherlands. C.Vermeer@BIOCH.UNIMAAS.NL


Rapid bone loss is a serious health problem for astronauts during long lasting missions in space. We have recorded the changes of biochemical markers for bone metabolism in one of the astronauts during the 6-month space flight of the EUROMIR-95 mission. Immediately after launch both bone resorption markers and urinary calcium excretion increased about two fold, whereas bone formation markers remained unchanged. After 12 1/2 weeks the astronaut received vitamin K1 (10 mg/day for 6 weeks). Vitamin K is known to be involved in the formation of gamma-carboxyglutamate (Gla) in proteins, such as the calcium-binding bone Gla-proteins osteocalcin and matrix Gla-protein. Concomitant with the start of vitamin K treatment, the calcium-binding capacity of osteocalcin increased, and so did the urinary excretion of free Gla. This is suggestive for a subclinical vitamin K-deficiency in the astronaut before vitamin K-supplementation. During periods of high vitamin K status markers for bone formation (osteocalcin and bone alkaline phosphatase) had increased as compared to the first part of the flight. The mean increases were 14 and 23%, respectively. Our data suggest that increased intake of vitamin K may contribute to counteracting microgravity-induced loss of bone mass during long lasting space missions, but need confirmation in more astronauts.

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