The student news site of Bellarmine Preparatory School

The Bellarmine Prep Lion

The student news site of Bellarmine Preparatory School

The Bellarmine Prep Lion

The student news site of Bellarmine Preparatory School

The Bellarmine Prep Lion

Capstone Project: Incidences and Severity of Vitamin K Deficiency

Image by Abby Bock

When analyzing the human body, it is known that there are a variety of factors that contribute to overall health. Different nutrients contribute to the body in a multitude of ways, including mineralization of bones, development of muscles, regulation of blood, and a plethora of other functions. Particularly pertaining to dental health, there are specific nutrients that are of greater importance than others in terms of bone health and mineralization. Vitamin K is often overlooked and the necessity of it is not as known compared to more common micronutrients such as calcium and vitamin D. The rate of incidence and range of severity of vitamin K deficiencies within the scope of dental health varies based on proper absorption, determined by diet, other vitamin deficiencies, and the severity of them.

Nutrients are crucial to the development and growth of the human body, particularlyvitamin K, which regulates blood coagulation and bone mineralization. Vitamin K1 is a compound that is responsible for constructing various proteins in the body, coming from the chloroplasts of plants. Foods such as broccoli, spinach, kale, and leafy vegetables are sources of the nutrient, along with fermented foods including kimchi and some cheeses. According to a survey conducted with practicing dental professionals, one expert explained that nutrition is essential for patients to maintain optimal health both systemically and orally. This means that getting sufficient vitamin K in the body can directly improve bone mineralization, the participant explained. When digested, vitamin K is absorbed and rapidly mineralized, with small concentrations being found throughout the bloodstream. Here, it works coagulating the blood to prevent excess bleeding. This is essential with regards to dental health which commonly involves extractions that stimulate blood flow. It is “important in the body’s use of calcium to help build bones and to inhibit blood vessel calcification” (Knight). The figure below details the impacts of vitamin K on vascular calcification, representing that both bones and blood vessels utilize it for function. While regulating the blood, the fat-soluble micronutrient is also “involved in the maturation of another 11 or 12 proteins that play different roles, encompassing in particular the modulation of the calcification of connective tissues” (Mladenka). 1 Calcification of these proteins and connective tissues is vital for bone mineralization, especially in teeth, which are exposed to external factors most often. With this vulnerability, it is crucial that patients do the best they can to care for their teeth, both in their physical oral care and nutrition. It is evident that Vitamin K has many roles in the body; it increases the elasticity and prevents damage of blood vessels, and promotes bone and tooth development.

Teeth are a part of the body that directly utilizes vitamin K for development and mineralization. While vitamin K is mandatory for growth, other nutrients such as vitamin D and calcium are also necessary. According to the American Dental Association, “Dental caries [are] the most common disease worldwide. The term dental caries can be used to describe both the disease process and the cavitated or non cavitated lesions that form as a result of the disease process. The caries disease process is biofilm- mediated, sugar-driven, multifactorial, and dynamic in the phasic demineralization and remineralization of dental hard tissues.” The source goes on to state that dental plaque has been shown to be related to lower concentrations of calcium, phosphate, and fluoride, all of which remineralize the enamel and dentin of teeth. Vitamin D regulates calcium and phosphate metabolism, and increased intakes is associated with reduced caries. Calcium is absorbed from the intestines into the blood, which is related to vitamin K, the mineral that regulates the coagulation of blood circulation throughout the body. As mentioned by practicing dentists responding to a survey, an anonymous participant who has been in the field for thirty six years stated, “without calcium and phosphate your body cannot create hydroxyapatite (enamel of teeth), and without proper nutrients, like calcium, the body cannot form a tooth bud which morpho differentiates into a tooth or create bones from collagen.” Human bones are continually replenishing themselves, and because of this they demand nutrients consistently to keep them healthy and allow for regrowth and regeneration. During the replacement process, osteocalcin, amolecule produced by osteoblasts, activates calcium reproduction. Bones in the body utilize this calcium for strength, and can then rebuild themselves. This entire process is possible due to vitamin K, which osteocalcin needs to fulfill its functions. Osteocalcin calcifies or hardens bone tissue, meaning that the dentin that forms teeth directly depends on it This process repeats continuously and revolves around the utilization of vitamin K to allow the proteins in bones to form and compact.

Vitamins and minerals are vital to development and in sustaining a healthy body, and when these nutrients are not present there are negative impacts on the body. Fat soluble vitamins, in which vitamin K is classified, are deficient in nearly every case of tooth decay. Vitamins D and K are closely related and work synonymously along with calcium to maintain oral health. The symptoms of deficiency are parallel to one another, including increased bone fractures, periodontitis, and osteoarthritis. Vitamin D regulates cells in both proliferation and differentiation which then contributes to the transportation of calcium throughout the body.

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Skeletal health is supported by calcium, since its absorption and mineralization forms osteoblasts. According to a report about deficiencies in the body, author Calafiore explains chronic inflammatory disease (lichen planus) can be a result of vitamin D deficiency, and is identified by symmetrical and bilateral lesions in the oral mucosa (lining of the mouth). Both vitamins are significant in oral health. Weston A. Price wrote Nutrition and Physical Degeneration, in which he details that 85-100% of communities suffer from tooth decay. Of the minerals present in food, our body only receives up to half of them. His research shows that average adults are advised to get up to one gram of calcium per day and the body relies on it for skeletal support. Those who have high immunity to dental caries have a diet consisting of up to four times the minimum requirement of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron.

Unfortunately, before the age of six, children are not able to entirely absorb calcium and phosphorus into their bodies, which can lead to deficiencies later in life. To combat this, diet can be altered to ensure that the body has access to these nutrients that will prevent dental decay. Those who have a surplus of access to foods rich in minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, and iron have greater immunity to tooth caries. To guarantee greater health and longevity, ensuring the appropriate vitamins and nutrients are present through diet will benefit all aspects of the body, especially bone and teeth health.

As with any deficiency, a lack of vitamin K causes stress for the body and in this case, the shortage of the nutrient contributes to poor blood circulation and bone calcification. Not all deficiencies are diagnosed so it is helpful to recognize the signs and symptoms. A survey respondent states that “a patient deficient in Vitamin K will bleed more while patients deficient in Vitamin D and Calcium will have increased risk of decay.” It is preeminent to maintain healthy vitamin levels so that stabilization in the body is more easily attained. Studies analyzed by Dr. Weston A. Price showed 49.7% of 476 teeth were decayed and that change in diet decreased tooth decay, with 0.14% new cavities. The rate of deficiency is increased in regions where nutrition is not easily accessible. Those who have nutritional deficiencies, either as a child or an adult, will likely have an increase in treatment needs because of greater risk of decay and bone breakage. Over time these repercussions will worsen and require further treatment, notably with major surgeries that constitute bleeding. Insufficient levels of vitamin K often leads to osteoporosis and due to other genetic factors, women have greater likelihood of this condition. The human body builds upon vitamin K and bones and teeth become fragile when it is missing in the calcification process.

The state of one's oral health is directly determined by nutrition and absorption of minerals in the body and bloodstream. Vitamin K is necessary for bone mineralization and calcification of teeth. Since the gut naturally produces small concentrations of the vitamin and supplements are popularizing, deficiency is commonly combatted. The number of patients diagnosed with severe deficiency is low, but this is not to neglect the fact that most individuals can improve upon their consumption. Unfortunately, most people are unaware that they are not absorbing enough of the vitamin, which leads to the consequences of lack of blood circulation and bone mineralization. The most common signs of deficiency are found orally because of the frequent exposure of the teeth. While there are a multitude of factors that impact dental caries, such as saliva, hygiene, and age, vitamin K impacts more than teeth. The rate of incidence and range of severity of vitamin K deficiencies within the scope of dental health varies based on location, diet, and severity of the deficiency.

Image by Abby Bock
Image by Abby Bock

Works Cited

Knight, Clare. “Vitamin K2: Physiological Importance and Increasing Your Intake.” News, 26
Aug. 2019,
Mladenka, Premysl, et al. “Vitamin K – Sources, Physiological Role, Kinetics, Deficiency,
Detection, Therapeutic Use, and Toxicity.” OUP Academic, Oxford University Press, 2 Sept.
Representation of Systemic Action of Vitamin K on Bone
vasculature-in-the-calcium_fig3_330875570. Accessed 11 May 2023.
Data – “Nutrition and Oral Health.” American Dental Association, Department of Scientific
Information, Evidence Synthesis & Translation Research, ADA Science & Research Institute,
Calafiore, Dario, et al. “Vitamin D for Clinical Diseases in Women: An Indispensable Factor in
Medicine and Dentistry.” MDPI, Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute, 30 May 2022,
Price, Weston A. “Nutrition and Physical Degeneration PDF.” Nutrition and Physical