Vitamin K2’s absence of from diets has created a staggering insufficiency – leaving children underprepared to form the foundation of health that will support them into adulthood. For children and adults with the most pronounced K deficiencies, supplementation with vitamin K2 (MK-7) has been shown to evoke the highest response.
Bacteria that normally colonize the large intestine synthesize menaquinones (vitamin K2), which are an active form of vitamin K. Until recently it was thought that up to 50% of the human vitamin K requirement might be met by bacterial synthesis. However, research indicates that the contribution of bacterial synthesis is much less than previously thought, although the exact contribution remains unclear.
In newborn infants, this is exacerbated by the fact that they have not yet developed bacterial colonies in their intestines. Consequently, newborn infants generally have low vitamin K status. For infants in the United States, vitamin K deficiency without bleeding may occur in as many as 50% of infants younger than 5 days old. In addition, the average intake of vitamin K in infants who are exclusively breast-fed during the first 6 months of life has been reported to be less than 1 mcg/day; this is approximately 100-fold lower than the intake in infants fed a typical supplemented formula. This is a good reason for breast-feeding mothers to consider supplementation with vitamin K2.
As children get older, their intake of vitamin K may continue to be inadequate. A British study compared dietary intake and sources of vitamin K in 4,599 4-yearold children born in the 1950s and 307 children in the 1990s. Results showed that dietary vitamin K intake was significantly higher (P
In another study, researchers measured circulating uncarboxylated (i.e., inactive) osteocalcin (ucOC), a marker of the vitamin K status in bone, in 896 samples of healthy volunteers and vitamin K-deficient target groups.
The response to vitamin K supplements was measured in 42 children and 68 adults. Children had high ucOC levels, reflecting low vitamin K status. Children and adults with more pronounced vitamin K deficiency gave the highest responses to vitamin K2 (MK-7) supplementation. Researchers concluded that children showed the largest tissue-specific vitamin deficiency and, accordingly, may benefit from MK-7 supplementation to improve vitamin K status.
The vitamin K-dependent protein osteocalcin plays an important role in bone metabolism. Inadequate dietary vitamin K intake results in the synthesis of ucOC. In a cross-sectional study25, the vitamin K status of bone in healthy children (n = 86) was compared with that of adults (n = 30). In children, a marked elevation of the ratio of ucOC/ carboxylated osteocalcin (cOC), indicative of a poor vitamin K status, was observed. Furthermore, a marked correlation between the bone markers for bone metabolism and ucOC and cOC was found in the children's group. These findings suggest a pronounced low vitamin K status of bone during growth.
Additionally, individuals with disorders of fat malabsorption may be at increased risk of vitamin K deficiency. Symptoms of deficiency include easy bruising and bleeding. This may occur as nosebleeds, bleeding gums, blood in the urine, blood in the stool, tarry black stools, or extremely heavy menstrual bleeding.