Matthew Messer

Matthew Messer


Significantly reduced the risk of fractures, and the development of cancer.

The study participants 

The ECKO trial looked at 440 postmenopausal woman, with low bone mineral density. (1) After menopause, woman have double the risk of developing osteoporosis, compared to men. (2) Treatments that improve bone quality, and reduce the risk of developing osteoporosis are especially important for them. (3)

The design of the study 

The ECKO-trial is a randomized controlled trial, in which the participants were divided into two groups. One group received 5 mg of Vitamin K1, and the other group got placebo. The original study lasted for two years, and it’s main purpose was to determine whether Vitamin-K1 supplementation had an effect on bone mineral density at the places where most fractures occur. They also measured the levels of Vitamin-K, and other health outcomes such as fracture rates and cancer incidence. 

What are the results? 

In the beginning the two groups had similar bone mineral density, which only increased slightly by the end of the study in the Vitamin-K group. The scientists didn’t think the changes in bone mineral density were significant, however the levels of Vitamin-K, increased tremendously. What’s incredible is that Vitamin-K supplementation reduced fracture rates by more than double, only 9 people had fractures in the Vitamin-K group, compared to 20 in the placebo group. Even more surprisingly, only 3 people developed cancer in the group receiving Vitamin-K, compared to 12 in the placebo group. This means Vitamin-K reduced the risk of cancer by 75 percent. The anti cancer effects of Vitamin-K have been studied in cell lines and animal models for a long time. (4) Hopefully there will be similar human trials, with high doses of Vitamin-K1, because it is a cheap, safe and potentially very effective tool, in the prevention of chronic diseases.

Vitamin-K doesn’t just improve bone mineral density? 

The scientists designing the study were quite surprised, that even though there weren’t significant changes in bone mineral density, Vitamin-K supplementation still reduced fracture risks by over 50 percent. How could this be possible? The only explanation is that Vitamin-K helps to strengthen the bones, through other mechanisms besides increasing bone mineral density. By changing their structure, instead of the density, they become much more resilient. 

What can we learn from this trial? 

In order to stay healthy, we must focus on prevention. Usually when it comes to prevention, most people wouldn’t think such a cheap and widely available Vitamin, such as Vitamin-K, could be so effective in preventing even the most serious diseases. Of course for the same reasons, it is not studied enough, because there is little incentive to do so. Despite many promising results from supplementing Vitamin-K, not many people are using it, which will hopefully change in the future, since it is such a safe molecule with so many upsides. 

  1. Cheung AM, Tile L, Lee Y, Tomlinson G, Hawker G, Scher J, Hu H, Vieth R, Thompson L, Jamal S, Josse R. Vitamin K supplementation in postmenopausal women with osteopenia (ECKO trial): a randomized controlled trial. PLoS Med. 2008 Oct 14;5(10):e196. doi: 10.1371/journal.pmed.0050196. Erratum in: PLoS Med. 2008 Dec;5(12):e247. PMID: 18922041; PMCID: PMC2566998. 

  2. Ji MX, Yu Q. Primary osteoporosis in postmenopausal women. Chronic Dis Transl Med. 2015;1(1):9-13. Published 2015 Mar 21. doi:10.1016/j.cdtm.2015.02.006 

  3. Cawthon PM. Gender differences in osteoporosis and fractures. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2011 Jul;469(7):1900-5. doi: 10.1007/s11999-011-1780-7. PMID: 21264553; PMCID: PMC3111766. 

  4. Lamson DW, Plaza SM. The anticancer effects of vitamin K. Altern Med Rev. 2003 Aug;8(3):303-18. PMID: 12946240. 

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