Tips for Better Bone Building, Part 12: Vitamin K

This is part of our ongoing The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging spotlight. Each week, we will be posting some of the great information that’s packed into our book, The Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging.

Today’s topic:
Tips for Better Bone Building, Part 12: Vitamin K

Vitamin K is required for the production of the second most important protein (other than collagen) in bone – osteocalcin. This would suggest a connection between vitamin K intake and bone health. Indeed, human bone mineral density is proportional to vitamin K intake. This conclusion was confirmed and extended by the findings of an extensive analysis of published research that firmly suggested superior bone health with daily dietary supplementation of between 10 mcg and 45 mcg of vitamin K.23

Adults may have poor vitamin K status because 1) the widespread use of “blood-thinning” medications may interfere with this vitamin, 2) the primary dietary sources of vitamin K are the green leafy vegetables, which commonly are minimized in the North American diet, 3) more than dietary sources, humans rely on gut bacteria to produce vitamin K from dietary fiber, another often-avoided dietary necessity. The typical low-vegetable, low-fiber diet may be causing a form of undiagnosed vitamin K deficiency, manifested as impaired bone health.

The fear with excessive vitamin K intake is also the fact that vitamin K has interactions with blood clotting proteins. This is a valid concern for many individuals who are taking blood thinners and other medications. Recently, a form of supplemental vitamin K, known as menaquinone-7 (or MK-7), has come onto the dietary supplement scene. The menaquinones are a group of compounds that comprise the vitamin K2 family. MK-7 is much safer that vitamin K1 and possibly much more effective in supporting bone health. Several studies point to the beneficial effects of supplementation with vitamin K2 as MK-7. This form of vitamin K has health benefits beyond its important actions on bone, and may support cardiovascular and arterial health as well. MK-7 is naturally found in natto, a traditional fermented soy food consumed in Japan and some other Asian countries. With a better safety profile and superior health benefits, MK-7 should be considered a preferential supplemental form of vitamin K.

Next Best Kept Secrets to Healthy Aging topic:
Tips for Better Bone Building, Part 13: Exercise

23. Cockayne S, Adamson J, Lanham-New S, Shearer MJ, Gilbody S, Torgerson DJ. Vitamin K and the prevention of fractures: Systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Arch Intern Med 2006;166:1256-1261.

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