New Research Finds Critical Vitamin K Deficiencies in Older Adults

New Image

Vitamins play a crucial role in our overall health, regardless of age. Some older adults grew up taking multivitamins and supplements, while others learned that a healthy, balanced diet is often enough to meet daily nutritional needs. But making sure that we provide our bodies with enough nutrients is not always on our minds – especially if age-related health concerns take up most of our attention. For example, new research from Tufts University has found that many older Americans[i] do not get enough Vitamin K, which could lead to unhealthy outcomes, like malnutrition.

The Mayo Clinic finds that malnutrition is a considerable concern for older adults. As a result, both you and your loved ones should equip yourselves with a knowledge of malnutrition warning signs. Adults suffering from malnutrition may have a weakened immune system, muscle weakness, or decreased bone mass. Simply put: It’s never a bad idea to monitor your own or a loved one’s nutrition, especially during the aging process.

Whether you’re worried about malnutrition, getting enough Vitamin K, or are simply interested in taking proactive health measures, a medical alert system can provide some relief. Many seniors worried about malnutrition feel anxious about other aspects of aging. Getting the right amount of vitamins and minerals is essential to healthily aging in place, but it’s difficult to predict how getting older will affect your body.

Why Older Adults Need Vitamin K

Our general familiarity with Vitamin K concerns its role in blood clotting. For older adults who notice that they bleed too heavily after injury, Vitamin K can work to help stem the flow and speed the healing process. Most often, Vitamin K deficiencies may become apparent if you take antibiotics, which block Vitamin K metabolism.

All of us, especially senior adults, need Vitamin K. Consuming the recommended amount leads to better overall health and nutrition. Along with helping blood clot, this vitamin also helps to produce healthy bone tissue. This, in turn, helps to maintain mobility and agility later in life. It is crucial that older adults strive to eat a balanced diet that includes fruits and vegetables. For most, this is the best and easiest way to prevent a Vitamin K deficiency.

However, the past year of isolation and emotional fatigue have taken a toll on many of us. Enduring separation from loved ones for the sake of health and safety may have come at another price. When we feel at our lowest, it’s easy to cook simple meals that are lacking in high nutritional value. We may also find an urge to eat comfort foods that we enjoy but which don’t supply the nutrients required in a balanced diet.

We should also reach for those simple leafy greens and meats that provide us with some extra Vitamin K. In doing so, you or your loved one can live a healthier life with improved heart health. As an added bonus, healthier bones can lead to fewer falls and fewer bad fall-related outcomes.

Keep your Vitamin K intake in mind each day. Also be aware that not all methods of getting it are equally beneficial. A doctor may recommend that you avoid Vitamin K supplements for personal, health-related reasons. While some companies tout the efficacy of Vitamin K2 supplements, your doctor may recommend multivitamins with Vitamin K, or even a balanced diet, as a better alternative. It is always best to follow the advice of your medical practitioner.

What Does the New Research Say?

Vitamin K deficiencies in older adults are at the center of new research from Tufts University’s Vitamin K Team. In a recent study, researchers found that about 60% of men aged 51 and older don’t get the recommended intake of Vitamin K. Similarly, 40% of women in the same age group don’t get the recommended amount of this vitamin, which is 120 micrograms for men and 90 micrograms for women.

How do these specific dietary shortcomings affect seniors? Like any type of vitamin, Vitamin K has specific benefits and can improve your health. Seniors who are looking for more ways to improve their health and wellness should talk to their doctors about incorporating Vitamin K into their diets. After all, the statistics indicate that they are likely to have a deficiency.

The Benefits of Vitamin K

The Tufts University research team found that Vitamin K may contribute to important and previously overlooked health benefits. These benefits can potentially include minimizing:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cognitive Problems
  • Physical Disability
  • Osteoarthritis

Vitamin K fights calcification, or the hardening of bodily tissue. As a result, the vitamin type contributes these four benefits in specific ways.

·         Heart Disease – Studies from the early 2000’s revealed that those who get less Vitamin K encounter higher rates of coronary heart disease. Researchers hypothesized that the blood vessels feeding the heart will get stiffer and narrower without adequate Vitamin K. In some cases, people introducing more Vitamin K into their diets lived longer than those who did not.

·         Cognitive Function – A 2019 review[i] found that at least six studies provide a link between achieving recommended Vitamin K levels and higher cognition amongst older adults. Older adults who achieved adequate vitamin K levels exhibited stronger recollections of past life experiences.

·         Mobility – Older adults with lower levels of Vitamin K can struggle more than those with adequate levels to walk long distances. These adults may also climb steps with greater difficulty if they do not take any breaks to rest. We should note that most of the larger studies, to date, are observational. Therefore, these findings do not necessarily prove cause and effect, but they do offer early insight that contributes to ongoing research.

·         Osteoarthritis – Researchers have linked individuals with higher Vitamin K levels to those who also have stronger bones. Along with improved mobility, Vitamin K can minimize how long it will take to recover from a fall. As a result, fall-related outcomes, such as a broken hip, may heal at a quicker rate.

Vitamin K in Your Diet

You can increase your intake of Vitamin K by adjusting your diet. As with any change in habit, consult your doctor before undertaking a new eating plan.

  • Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods: During your next shopping trip, buy some leafy greens, lean meats, and even eggs. Many vegetables[i] include high percentages of Vitamin K. Veggies that you can purchase can include cooked kale (443% daily value (DV) per serving), cooked collard greens (322% DV per serving), and raw spinach (121% DV per serving).
  • Integrate Healthy Snacks: You don’t need to base every meal around Vitamin K. If you want to work your way up, start with some new snacks. Eating some fruits, vegetables, or low-fat dairy products between meals is both filling and an effective progression.
  • Take Multivitamins: Taking a multivitamin that includes some Vitamin K is an option. However, do not use that as a stand-alone method. Supplemental vitamins and minerals may not absorb as readily as those found in foods.

If you find that your Vitamin K levels remain inadequate even with dietary adjustments, your doctor may have additional suggestions. Similarly, you may find that you have adequate levels of Vitamin K and may not need to change your diet. In most cases, the doctor may run tests that identify any underlying causes for ongoing malnutrition.

Research Shows a Connection Between Vitamin K and Fall Recovery

Much like a medical alert system, Vitamin K can possibly improve the outcome of an unforeseen fall. Vitamin K2 acts as an essential nutrient for bone health in older adults. Ultimately, having a healthy amount of Vitamin K2 plays a large role in helping to prevent fractures after falls.

Other long-term studies found that vitamin K2 reduces specific types of fractures in women. These fractures may include:

  • Spinal fractures (60%)
  • Hip fractures (77%)
  • All non-spinal fractures (81%)

Achieving a Healthy Senior Lifestyle

Vitamin K, a healthy diet, and a medical alert device are all important components to a maintaining a healthy life as an older adult. Improving daily nutritional intake for specific vitamins and minerals is just one part of maintaining a healthy senior lifestyle. Investing in a medical alert system can become a helpful and supplementary lifeline for many older adults.

Alert1’s personal emergency button alarms support users to independently age in place. A medical alert system can be part of a healthy lifestyle solution. If a fall occurs, trained agents are standing by 24/7/365, so you or your loved one will never have to encounter an emergency without support.

While Vitamin K does appear to be an important factor in maintaining optimal health and wellness, dietary changes are often not enough to prevent accidents or falls. If you or your loved ones are having mobility issues or want to be prepared in case of an emergency, consider Alert1’s medical alarms with fall detection technology. Our three systems include: In-the-Home + Fall Detection, On-the-Go + Fall Detection, and In-the-Home + On-the-Go + Fall Detection. With an Alert1 medical alert, you will always be independent, but never alone.




 

[1] Crouch, Michelle. (2021, April 9). Are You Getting Enough Vitamin K? AARP.org. Are You Getting Enough Vitamin K?

[2] Alisi, Ludovico, et al. (2019, March 10). The Relationships Between Vitamin K and Cognition: A Review of Current Evidence. Frontiers in Neurology. The Relationships Between Vitamin K and Cognition: A Review of Current Evidence.

[3] Arnarson, Atli. (2017, Sept. 6). 20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin K. Healthline.com. 20 Foods That Are High in Vitamin K.