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Vitamin K: No Help for Bone Density

But Study Shows Vitamin K May Offer Some Protection Against Fractures and Cancers

Vitamin K and Osteoporosis continued...

He says vitamin D is "very important" for bone strength, but that "people should not go out and buy vitamin K because of this study."

Although Cheung says it would be premature to recommend vitamin K for osteoporosis, she believes it deserves further study in larger groups of women.

About 10 million Americans, 80% of them women, have been diagnosed with osteoporosis; another 34 million people in the U.S. are at risk, according to the National Osteoporosis Foundation.

Previous research suggesting vitamin K supplements might strengthen bones may have had "design and methodological" flaws, Cheung says.

Women in the study did develop fewer fractures, a finding that Cheung says she could not explain and needed further research. Over the four years, nine women had fractures among those taking vitamin K supplements, vs. 20 in the placebo group.

Vitamin K and Cancer

There were also similar surprise findings on vitamin K and cancer.

In the study, only three women in the high supplement group developed cancer over four years, compared to 12 taking placebo.

The finding suggesting vitamin K might reduce cancer risk was "consistent with other research," but the numbers were so small that "a chance association" was possible, Cheung writes.

The mere possibility that vitamin K might reduce cancer risk is reason enough to study the matter further, Cheung notes.

Should you take a vitamin K supplement? Cheung says there is not enough evidence in this study to draw any conclusions.

She says people with osteopenia and those who've been diagnosed with osteoporosis should definitely make sure they get enough vitamin D by taking supplements or eating foods such as egg yolks, butter and margarine, cheese, fish liver oils, fortified cereals, bread, milk, herring, mackerel, oysters, and salmon.

Cheung also says she also recommends foods rich in vitamin K such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, chick peas, dairy products, kale, and seeds.

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