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J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2019 May 6. pii: glz108. doi: 10.1093/gerona/glz108. [Epub ahead of print]

Vitamin K status and mobility limitation and disability in older adults: The Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study.

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USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University, Boston MA.
Sticht Center for Healthy Aging and Alzheimer's Prevention, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston-Salem NC.
Thurston Arthritis Center, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Chapel Hill, NC.



Vitamin K has been implicated in chronic diseases associated with increased risk for mobility disability, such as osteoarthritis and cardiovascular disease. However, the association between vitamin K status and mobility disability is unknown. Therefore, we examined the association between vitamin K status and incident mobility disability in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study.


Plasma phylloquinone (vitamin K1) was categorized as <0.5, 0.5-<1.0 and ≥1.0 nmol/L (n=1323, 48% male). Plasma ucMGP, which increases when vitamin K status is low, was measured in 716 participants and categorized into tertiles. Mobility limitation and disability, defined as two consecutive semi-annual reports of having any or a lot of difficulty walking a ¼ mile or climbing 10 steps without resting, were assessed over a median 6-10 years of follow-up. Multivariate Cox proportional hazard models were used to evaluate the association between vitamin K status and incident mobility limitation and disability.


Participants with plasma phylloquinone <0.5 nmol/L were more likely to develop mobility limitation and disability compared to those with ≥1.0 nmol/L [adjusted HR(95%CI) mobility limitation: 1.27(1.05-1.53); disability: 1.34(1.01-2.76)]. After further adjustment for knee pain, the associations were partially attenuated [HR(95%CI) mobility limitation: 1.20(0.99-1.45); disability: 1.26(0.96-1.67)]. Plasma ucMGP was not associated with incident mobility limitation, but was non-linearly associated with incident mobility disability [HR(95%CI), compared to tertile 1: tertile 2=1.64(1.19-2.27), tertile 3=1.17(0.83-1.66), fully-adjusted].


Our results suggest vitamin K may be involved in the disablement process in older age. Future studies are needed to confirm our findings and clarify the underlying mechanism.


aging; disability; matrix gla protein; mobility; vitamin K


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