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Vitamin K Assay - Serum

The Many Functions of Vitamin K

Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that functions as a cofactor in the production of blood coagulation factors (in the liver), osteocalcin (in bone), and matrix Gla-proteins (in cartilage and vessel walls), each resulting in the deposition of ionic calcium.

Monitoring vitamin K can help reduce risk of osteoporotic bone fractures, cardiovascular disease, and possibly some cancers by identifying individuals who may have a vitamin K deficiency. Since current dietary recommendations of vitamin K are based on saturation of the coagulation system, those recommendations may be insufficient to maintain vascular and bone health, since individual functions are independent of each other.

Vitamin K status is especially important in individuals:

  • With cardiovascular disease or those with a family history of arteriosclerosis
  • At high risk of bone loss, such as pre- and post- menopausal women or those with a family history of osteoporosis
  • On certain drug therapies, particularly blood thinners, such as warfarin or aspirin
  • On restricted diets
  • On long-term antibiotic therapies

The Metametrix Vitamin K Assay

Direct vs. functional measurement of vitamin K

The Metametrix Vitamin K Assay measures a functional marker, undercarboxylated osteocalcin (ucOC). Very little vitamin K is stored in the body therefore direct measurement is not ideal.

Osteocalcin (OC) is almost exclusively a product of mature, active osteoblasts and is a vitamin K-dependent, Ca+2 binding protein. A vitamin K deficiency is indicated by an ucOC increase in circulating blood and urine. Therefore, high ucOC indicates low vitamin K status.

Symptoms & conditions related to vitamin K deficiency:

  • Bruising
  • Epistaxis
  • Fractures
  • Gastrointestinal bleeding
  • Menorrhagia
  • Hematuria
  • Nosebleeds
  • Anemia
  • Osteopenia/Osteoporosis
  • Calcification of soft tissue, especially heart valves
  • Digestive problems, especially malabsorption
  • Cardiovascular Disease
  • Cancer
  • Malabsorption syndromes

Increasing vitamin K

There are two natural forms of vitamin K, which differ based on their phytyl group-phylloquinone (vitamin K1) synthesized from plants, and menaquinone (vitamin K2) from bacteria in the large intestines.

  • Vitamin K1 is highest in green leafy vegetables such as kale, broccoli, collard greens, and lettuce.
  • Vitamin K2 is found in fermented foods such as cheese, meats, and dairy products.
  • Use salicylates such as aspirin with care. Salicylates can block vitamin K.
  • Vitamin K supplements