Vitamin K status is associated with childhood bone mineral content.
In adult bone, vitamin K contributes to bone health, probably through its role as co-factor in the carboxylation of osteocalcin. In children, the significance of vitamin K in bone-mass acquisition is less well known. The objective of this longitudinal study was to determine whether biochemical indicators of vitamin K status are related to (gains in) bone mineral content (BMC) and markers of bone metabolism in peripubertal children. In 307 healthy children (mean age 11.2 years), BMC of the total body, lumbar spine and femoral neck was determined at baseline and 2 years later. Vitamin K status (ratio of undercarboxylated (ucOC) to carboxylated (cOC) fractions of osteocalcin; UCR) was also measured at both time points. Markers of bone metabolism, sex steroids, vitamin D status and growth hormones were measured at baseline only. Large variations in the levels of the UCR were found at both time-points, indicating a substantial interindividual difference in vitamin K status. Improvement of vitamin K status over 2 years (n 281 children) was associated with a marked increase in total body BMC (r -49.1, P<0.001). The UCR was associated with pubertal stage, markers of bone metabolism, sex hormones and vitamin D status. A better vitamin K status was associated with more pronounced increase in bone mass in healthy peripubertal children. In order to determine the significance of these findings for childhood bone health, additional paediatric studies are needed.