Throughout the years, vitamin D has gotten most of the attention for bone health.
But a new study in Nutrients introduces another vitamin as even more important than vitamin D.
If you have been diagnosed or are concerned about osteoporosis, you must make sure you’re getting enough of this essential (but little talked about) vitamin.
The researchers carried out a review of the already published literature to shed light on the connection between vitamin K and bone health and to find out how exactly this vitamin works.
Their first finding was that vitamin K indeed acted as an osteoprotective agent, meaning it helps protect bones.
Osteocalcin, a protein produced by bone cells, plays a significant role in this process. When vitamin K is present, it helps osteocalcin bind to calcium more effectively, thereby aiding in maintaining proper bone mineralization and building.
This action is pivotal because it keeps bones strong and healthy.
The deficiency of vitamin K, on the other hand, leads to a rise in the levels of undercarboxylated osteocalcin. This form of osteocalcin is less effective in managing bone health and may thus lead to weaker bones.
This vitamin makes other contributions too. To have strong bones, our bodies break down old bone so that the new bone can be formed from fresh calcium and other minerals.
Vitamin K regulates the activity of osteoblasts (cells that form bone) and osteoclasts (cells that break down bone). This role ensures a healthy balance between bone formation and breakdown, crucial for maintaining strong bones.
The scientists also found that the recommended daily intake of 90 mcg/micrograms (females) and 120 mcg (males) of vitamin K set by health authorities might be lower than what is required for optimal bone health.
Higher doses of vitamin K2 are particularly beneficial in improving bone density and reducing fracture risks in various groups, including postmenopausal women and individuals with conditions like cerebral palsy and osteoporosis.
Vitamin K is relatively easy to include in your diet. Try some of the following:
1. Green leafy vegetables like kale, spinach, collard greens, Swiss chard, mustard greens, and turnip greens.
2. Other vegetables like Brussels sprouts, broccoli, asparagus, cabbage, and cauliflower.
3. Fermented foods are excellent sources of Vitamin K, particularly Vitamin K2, including natto, sauerkraut, and other fermented vegetables.