Vitamin K Builds Bones Better Than Calciumby Dr. Josh Axe
Many people immediately turn to calcium in the form of supplements or milk in order to boost bone density and prevent osteoporosis. But those sources of calcium are NOT the best way to build bone health. In fact, it’s vitamin K2 that helps boost bone density and prevent osteoporosis even more.
According to recent research*, men and women with the highest intake of vitamin K2 are 65% less likely to suffer a debilitating hip fracture as compared to those with the lowest intake of vitamin K2.
According to recent research**, vitamin K plays a leading role in preventing the following problems commonly associated with aging:
- Osteoporosis and deteriorating bones
- Artery hardening
This latest study on vitamin K2 was led by Professor Bruce Ames Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of California, Berkeley, and a Senior Scientist at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute (CHORI).
Ames hypothesizes that vitamin K2 deficiencies impact the body by the role they play in production of certain proteins. When the body lacks in vitamin K2 these essential functions are compromised. Despite higher functions still being operative, the body responds by accelerating cancers, aging, and neural decay while leaving other critical functions unchanged.
In other words, when the body lacks enough vitamin K2, it goes into emergency mode keeping up only the critical functions needed for immediate survival. The result is that the other vital processes break down leaving the body vulnerable to weak bones, cancers, and artery problems.
According a Tufts University study only 50% of the population gets adequate amounts of vitamin K from their diets. Are you getting enough vitamin K in your diet or is your body silently being depleted, leaving you at higher risk for dangerous disease?
Vitamin K 101
Vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin with basically three main types; K, K1, and K2. For the purposes of this discussion we’re speaking of K2. A fat soluble vitamin is one that is absorbed in the intestines along with fat. Fat soluble vitamins are stored in the liver.
Vitamin K plays a vital role in blood clotting as well as bone calcification; both vital body functions for healthy living and disease free aging.
The Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for adult females is 65 mg and 80 mg for men. For children and infants the RDA is 5 mg.
Common Causes of Vitamin K Deficiencies
Although deficiencies in vitamin K used to be very rare the times have changed. Sadly, as is evident by the Tufts University study, more and more people are becoming deficient in this vitamin too.
Poor diet is one of the factors playing into a vitamin K deficiency (as well as other important vitamin and mineral deficiencies). There are a few common contributors to promoting a deficiency in vitamin K. Are any of these familiar to you?
- Long term use of antibiotics
- Intestinal problems such as chronic inflammatory bowel disease
- Cholesterol lowering pharmaceuticals
Basically since vitamin K is produced by friendly bacteria in the gut, any disruption in the intestines can result in a decreased ability of the body to absorb or produce vitamin K.
This can happen from any problem in the intestines as well as eating foods such as hydrogenated vegetable oils which impact the absorption of vitamin K and the body’s ability to use it.
The disruption of friendly bacteria in the gut from antibiotics, chlorinated & fluoridated water, and fake foods is one reason I recommend almost everyone supplement with a high quality probiotic. I personally use Primal Defense by Garden of Life.
As with any vitamin, mineral, or other nutrient, fresh, whole foods are the very best source. Along with it you’ll get more nutrients and all your body needs to properly assimilate it.
Food Sources of Vitamin K
The best food sources of vitamin K are leafy green vegetables.
There are other foods that offer vitamin K too:
- Brussels sprouts
- Cow’s milk
- Collard greens
- Bok Choy
- Green tea
- Split peas
Once again I want to emphasize that eating a variety of these foods in your daily diet is the best way to obtain vitamin K. However if for some reason you can’t consume these or they aren’t enough, consider a high quality vitamin K supplement. Generally speaking a deficiency in vitamin K is usually due to a problem with absorption rather than a lack in the diet.
If you suspect you are vitamin K deficient I urge you to pinpoint the cause and act accordingly.
Symptoms of Vitamin K Deficiency
Symptoms of a vitamin K deficiency can include:
- Easy bruising
- Gastrointestinal bleeding
- Heavy menstrual bleeding
- Blood in the urine
People with certain diseases are more likely to be deficient in vitamin K. These include celiac disease, chronic inflammatory bowel disease, cystic fibrosis, and cholestasis to name a few.
Despite the fact that vitamin K is a fat soluble vitamin there are no well documented or known toxicity problems. However it is not recommended to take supplements of this vitamin if you are taking anticoagulant drugs.
If you not sure if you have a deficiency in this crucial vitamin ask your health care practitioner who can order tests to determine for certain if you are deficient. They can also help guide you based on test results in proper supplementation if needed and getting to the root cause of the deficiency.
*According to the Framingham Heart Study led by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
**Published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in February 2009
Dr. Axe's Action Steps
- Choose at least 5 vitamin K-rich foods listed above and add them to your grocery list this week.
- Consider supplementing with a high quality probiotic to aid in your body’s absorption of vitamin K.
- If you decide to get tested for a vitamin K deficiency and find you are low, consider supplementing with a high quality vitamin K supplement.
- Get to the root cause of the problem, don’t just supplement without addressing the true cause.