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Vitamin K & Bone Health: What You Need To Know

Vitamin K is an often overlooked nutrient for bone health. There is growing evidence of the importance of vitamin k for strong bones and prevention of osteoporotic fractures. In Japan, Korea and Thailand, vitamin K is used to treat osteoporosis.

Which Type of Vitamin K For Bone Health?
There are 3 types of fat soluble vitamin K:

1. K1 or phylloquinone
Vitamin K1 is found mainly in plants (such as green leafy vegetables), plant oils and algae.

2. K2 or menaquinones
Vitamin K2 is found in eggs, butter, dairy, organ meats, fermented vegetables, natto and certain cheeses.

3. K3 or menadione
This is a synthetic form of vitamin K.

Vitamin K2 is the most beneficial for bone health. There many forms of vitamin K2. MK 7 (menaquinone-7), the long chain form of vitamin K2 is the most advantageous as it is highly bioavailable and stays in the body longer. Most vitamin K2 supplements are in the form of MK 7 and is derived from a Japanese fermented soy product called natto.

Role of Vitamin K2 for Bone & Heart Health
Vitamin K2 is necessary for activating two vitamin K-dependent proteins:

1. Osteocalcin
Osteocalcin is a calcium-binding protein that is involved in calcium uptake and bone metabolism. It requires vitamin K to undergo a process called gamma-carboxylation, to bind calcium in the bones. Without sufficient vitamin K, osteocalcin is not activated and does not perform its job in the bone building process.

Low levels of vitamin K have been linked to increased risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

2. Matrix GLA-protein
This is another vitamin K-dependent protein. It also requires vitamin K2 for the carboxylation process to inhibit calcification in the arterial walls. When there is inadequate vitamin K2, calcium is deposited in the arteries as atherosclerotic plaque. This increases the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Vitamin K’s role in regulating calcium movement is two-fold:
1. It directs and keeps calcium in the bones by activating osteocalcin.
2. It removes calcium from arteries by activating matrix GLA-protein.

Therefore, vitamin K reduces the risk of arteriosclerosis, osteoporosis and osteoporotic fractures at the same time.

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Calcium alone is no good for bone health. Vitamin K2 works in synergistic with vitamin D3 and calcium to build strong bones and protect the heart. It is difficult to get enough of the most beneficial form of vitamin K2 (MK7) from diet alone. You’ll need to take a supplement unless you are eating natto regularly. Unfortunately, the taste and texture of natto are not for everyone’s palate.

If you are taking a calcium supplement such as Algaecal, you are receiving a full 100 mcg/day of vitamin K2 in the form of MK-7.

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