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Vitamin K1 Retards Bone Loss

April 2004

LE Magazine April 2004
Vitamin K1 Retards Bone Loss

Vitamin K1 may help delay bone loss in postmenopausal women, especially if given in conjunction with certain minerals and vitamin D, new research shows.

For their study, researchers recruited 155 healthy postmeno-pausal women between 50 and 60 years of age and divided them into three groups. The first group received a daily supplement containing calcium, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin D. The second group received the same nutrients as the first group plus vitamin K1 supplements. The third group received an inactive placebo supplement.

After three years of treatment, the placebo group had lost approximately 5% of total bone mass, compared to 3.3% for the group receiving the vitamin supplement plus vitamin K1. The group receiving the vitamin supplement alone demonstrated a 4.6% decrease in total bone mass. No significant differences were observed among the three groups for bone mineral density measured in the lumbar spine (lower back).

“Recently, amazing new functions of vitamin K have been discovered, notably in the fields of bone and vascular health,” researcher Dr. Cees Vermeer of the department of biochemistry at the University of Maastricht in the Netherlands told Life Extension. “There are several forms of vitamin K, and in the present paper we have investigated its most common form, vitamin K1. It was found that—in combination with minerals and vitamin D—increased intake of vitamin K1 had an independent beneficial effect on bone. As compared to minerals plus vitamin D alone, the intake of extra vitamin K (1 mg/day) retarded postmenopausal bone loss by 35-40% during the entire three-year study period.”

*Editor's note: Most Life Extension members take 10 mg of supplemental vitamin K, which is ten times more vitamin K than was used in this study. Most Life Extension members also take hormone supplements such as DHEA and progesterone to help maintain healthy bone density.

—Marc Ellman, MD


Braam LA, Knapen MH, Geusens P, et al. Vitamin K1 supplementation retards bone loss in postmenopausal women between 50 and 60 years of age. Calcif Tissue Int. 2003 Jul;73(1):21-6.

Nutrients Reduce Cold and Flu Symptoms in Elderly

A nutritional supplement containing vitamins, minerals, and structured lipids boosted immunity and reduced days of cold and flu symptoms in elderly participants in a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

To determine whether a nutritional supplement could modulate immune status, researchers recruited 66 individuals over the age of 65. Approximately half of the participants received eight ounces per day of an experimental formula containing protein, antioxidants (vitamins C and E, beta-carotene), selenium, zinc, fructo-oligosaccharides, and structured lipids. The other study participants received a control drink containing protein and minimal vitamins and minerals. Influenza (flu) vaccinations were administered to all participants approximately two weeks into the study.

Eighteen participants in the control group and 16 in the experimental group completed the 183-day study. The control group logged 156 days of upper respiratory tract infection symptoms, compared to only 78 days in the experimental group. In addition, blood tests taken on day 57 demonstrated that 87% of those given the supplement achieved a fourfold or greater increase in antibody response to a certain component of the flu vaccine, compared to only 41% in the control group. Lymphocyte proliferation to the flu vaccine also was greater in the supplement group than in the control group.

“Advanced age is associated with increased risk of nutrient deficiency and altered regulation of the immune system. This combination is associated with increased risk of infection,” lead researcher Bobbi Langkamp-Henken, PhD, RD, of the University of Florida told Life Extension. “Many seniors do not get all of the nutrients that they require. By supplementing their diet with multivitamins and minerals, seniors may minimize their risk of nutrient deficiency and therefore get an immune advantage.”

—Marc Ellman, MD


Langkamp-Henken B, Bender BS, Gardner EM, et al. Nutritional formula enhanced immune function and reduced days of symp- toms of upper respiratory tract infection in
seniors. J Am Geriatr. Soc. 2004 Jan;52(1):3-12.

High Cysteine Linked to Lower Breast Cancer Risk

Higher blood levels of the amino acid cysteine seem to predict a reduced risk of developing breast cancer, suggesting that cysteine may have a protective benefit against breast cancer, according to research of more than 30,000 women as part of the Nurses’ Health Study.

Researchers found that women with the highest blood levels of cysteine had less than half the risk of developing breast cancer during the approximately six-year study period when compared to women with the lowest cysteine levels. Cysteine exerts its beneficial effects by merging with the amino acids glutamate and glycine to form glutathione, the most potent intracellular antioxidant and carcinogen-detoxifying agent.

In an interview with Life Extension, Dr. Shumin Zhang of Boston’s Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Harvard School of Public Health, said, “In this large prospective study, women with the highest levels of blood cysteine, a key amino acid in the biosynthesis of glutathione (an antioxidant), had a 56% lower risk of developing breast cancer compared to those with the lowest levels.”

“Cysteine or its precursors might have the potential to be chemoprotective against breast cancer,” Dr. Zhang and colleagues wrote in the medical journal Cancer Epidemiology, Bio-markers & Prevention. Dr. Zhang warned, however that “this exciting new finding needs to be confirmed by other large studies.”

—Marc Ellman, MD


Zhang SM, Willett WC, Selhub J, Manson JE, Colditz GA, Hankinson SE. A prospective study of plasma total cysteine and risk of breast can cer. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers. Prev. 2003 Nov;12(11 Pt 1):1188-93.

Blood Pressure Drug Found to Raise Homocysteine

The commonly prescribed blood pressure medication hydrochlorothi-azide may raise blood homocysteine levels, possibly counteracting the cardiovascular benefits of decreased blood pressure, according to a study published in the medical journal Metabolism.

For their study, researchers at the Institute of Clinical Chemistry in Magdeburg, Germany, randomly assi-gned 21 patients to receive 25 mg of hydrochlorothiazide daily and compared them to 19 patients who were given 50 mg of captopril daily. Hydrochlorothiazide is a diuretic-type blood pressure medication while captopril is in the angiotensin converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitor class.

At the end of the one-month study, both groups demonstrated a decrease in blood pressure. The researchers found, however, that blood homocysteine levels increased by 16% in patients taking hydrochlorothiazide, while remaining relatively unchanged in patients taking captopril. They hypothesize that a reduction in kidney function caused by hydrochlorothiazide may explain this finding.

In their article, the researchers cite two previous studies that report an association between diuretic medications and increased homocysteine levels, and express concern that the cardiovascular protection conferred by lowering blood pressure may be offset by the increase in homocysteine: “Although this study is preliminary, it may be advisable to monitor homocysteine in patients treated with hydrochlorothiazide. If homocysteine increases substantially and hydro-chlorothiazide therapy has to be continued, normalization can be tried by supplementing vitamins, which lower homocysteine (folic acid, vitamins B6 and B12).”

—Marc Ellman, MD


Westphal S, Rading A, Luley C, Dierkes J. Antihypertensive treatment and homocysteine concentrations. Metabolism. 2003 Mar;52(3):261-3.

Lycopene Beneficial After Prostate Cancer Surgery

Lycopene, a carotenoid that has shown promise in helping to prevent and treat certain cancers, has been shown to be beneficial in patients who have undergone castration for severe prostate cancer.

Because prostate cancer is at least partially driven by male hormones, surgeons will occasionally remove the patient’s testicles (orchidectomy) in an effort to reduce disease severity in advanced cases. To study lycopene’s effect on metastatic prostate cancer, researchers in India randomly assigned 27 patients who were undergoing orchidectomy for metastatic prostate cancer to immediately start receiving lycopene supplements (2 mg twice daily) on the day of surgery. These patients were compared to a control group of 27 other patients undergoing orchidectomy who did not receive the lycopene supplements.

After six months of treatment, the researchers found a significant reduction in prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels in both groups, but more so in the lycopene-supplemented group. This finding was persistent even one and a half years later. Moreover, 21 patients in the lycopene group demonstrated a “complete” PSA response (a PSA level of less than 4 ng/ml), compared to only 11 in the control group. By the end of the trial, 12 patients in the control group died, compared to only seven in the orchidectomy-plus-lycopene group.

Lycopene also seemed to decrease disease symptoms. Urinary peak flow rate improved significantly more in the group taking lycopene supplements as compared to the control group. The lycopene-supplemented group also reported subjective improvement in other voiding symptoms, such as frequency, urgency, and pain with urination.

In their article published in the British Journal of Urology International, the researchers noted: “The remarkable association between a diet rich in fruits and vegetables and the reduced risk of several malignancies has led to a consideration of the role of carotenoids in cancer prevention. Lycopene is one of the carotenoids that has emerged as important in the chemoprevention and treatment of various kinds of cancers, because of its unique properties of cancer prevention and regression, besides being a potent quencher of free radicals and an immunomodulator.”

—Marc Ellman, MD


Ansari MS, Gupta NP. A comparison of lycopene and orchidectomy vs orchidectomy alone in the management of advanced prostate cancer. BJU Int. 2003 Sep;92(4):375-8.