Tufts researchers are keeping track of vitamin K: Research summary

BOSTON -- Much of what is known about the content of vitamin K in the U.S. food supply comes from research conducted in the Vitamin K Laboratory at the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University. Extensive databases now exist for the food content of one type of vitamin K, phylloquinone. Synthesized by plants, phylloquinone makes dark green leafy vegetables the richest source of vitamin K in the American diet. Lab Director Sarah Booth, PhD, and her USDA colleagues, for the first time reported data on the content of the two other major types of dietary vitamin K -- menaquinones and dihydrophylloquinone -- in more than 500 commonly consumed meats, dairy foods, fast-foods, grains, cereals and baked goods. Assessing the natural and synthetic forms of vitamin K content in foods is important because of its possible links to a number of conditions such as osteoarthritis and coronary heart disease.

"We know that meats, dairy foods and many cereals and grain products contain relatively low amounts of phylloquinone," says Booth, also an associate professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts. "Our analysis of the two other forms of vitamin K in these foods confirms that no single food item in the meat, dairy, cereal or grain categories is a rich dietary source of any form of vitamin K. However, since many meats, dairy foods, grains and cereals are often consumed in large quantities, they may be important contributors to total vitamin K intake."

Vitamin K, which is a fat-soluble vitamin, is essential in blood clotting and cellular growth. It is also involved in building and maintaining bone mass. "These are known functions of phylloquinone in the diet," Booth notes, "but research is continuing to uncover other potential roles for this form of the vitamin." As an example, Booth mentions the results of a study published in the April 2006 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatism, in which she and colleagues colla

Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Tufts University

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