Low levels of Vitamin K trigger mobility disability, says research

Low levels of Vitamin K trigger mobility disability, says research

According to new research, insufficient levels of vitamin-K increase the risk of mobility disability in older adults. The study indicates that vitamin-K is involved in impaired mobility during older age. The findings of the research are published in the Journals of Gerontology, series A.

Previous studies have also reported links between vitamin-K and long-term conditions, raising the likelihood of mobility disability. These conditions may include cardiovascular disease and osteoarthritis. However, there is no direct link previously reported between vitamin-K and mobility disability.

The research team explains that low levels of vitamin-K trigger the onset of chronic diseases that may cause disability. However, the work to understand the link between the two is still at the initial stages. This study serves as a pioneer to evaluate the direct relationship between vitamin K status and incident mobility disability. It especially focuses on older people.

Rich dietary sources of vitamin K include,

  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Broccoli and other leafy greens

Some dairy foods also contain significant levels of vitamin K.

Mobility is a fundamental process of healthy aging. It is defined as the ability to move independently from one place to another. Physical independence is essential to healthy aging and the quality of life in older adults. A common parameter evaluating mobility is the ability of an individual to walk and climb stairs.

What is the link between mobility and vitamin K

Vitamin-K is a fat-soluble vitamin with Phylloquinone as its main dietary form. It can be obtained in rich amounts from leafy greens.

In order to assess the status of vitamin K, the researchers measured two blood biomarkers i.e.

  1. Phylloquinone
  2. Un-carboxylated matrix Gla protein (ucMGP)

The latter is the protein that requires vitamin K.

The research team noted that ucMGP in the blood increases when vitamin K status is low. The data for analysis came from 688 women and 635 men involved in the Health, Aging, and Body Composition (Health ABC) Study. Note that almost 40% of the participants were black, and they were around 70 to 79 years old.

The health ABC study evaluated mobility every 6 months. The follow up continued for a period of 6 and 10 years. The participants were subjected to telephonic interviews and they also attended clinics.

The mobility limitation is defined as two consecutive 6-monthly reports of having trouble either with walking a quarter of a mile or climbing 10 steps without resting. They defined mobility disability as two consecutive 6-monthly reports of experiencing a lot of difficulties or inability to complete the same walking and climbing challenge.

The results of the analysis showed that older people with low levels of phylloquinone were most likely to develop mobility limitation and disability. Particularly, the researchers found that, as compared to healthy individuals, developing mobility limitation was almost 1.5 times greater in those with low blood levels of phylloquinone. Moreover, the chance of developing mobility disability for those low in phylloquinone was almost double that of those with sufficient levels.

On the other hand, the results didn’t report any clear relationship between mobility limitation or disability and blood levels of ucMGP. Note that the results for men and women were largely similar.


The researchers suggest that there is still a need for further studies to confirm their findings. Moreover, further research may clarify the mechanisms that might link vitamin K to mobility. Our population of older people is growing thus it’s important for us to understand the variety of risk factors for mobility disability.

Maria Kovacs

Maria is fascinated with research, technology and everything that involves Biochemistry and Molecular Biology. She is an avid medical writer and often writes content based on the latest research in Health and Medicine. Twitter- @MariaKo51853208

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