You know your bones need calcium. You may know your bones also need magnesium and vitamin D. But what about vitamin K.
Vitamin K is a cofactor for specific enzymes that activate proteins bone growth and remodeling. It’s been the subject of research for decades.
A report published in December of 2020 in the journal Nutrients looked at 8 published clinical trials of vitamin K that evaluated the outcome of fracture. Because there are so many different forms and dosages of vitamin K available, let’s look at the details…
5 of the published trials used vitamin K2 at a dosage of 45 mg/day—an amount that is 50 times the recommended intake for adult women in the US (90 mcg). 3 of those 5 studies specified that it was the form MK4. This is the form and amount that has shown in some studies to reduce fracture risk and has been recommended in Japan since 1995 to support bone health.
1 study used MK4 but at a dosage 100 times less than the others (45 mcg instead of mg) and in combination with other medications. It reduced fracture risk, but it’s hard to know whether that was because of the MK4 or the other medications.
1 study used vitamin K2 in the form of MK7 at a dosage of 180 mcg/day. It showed that MK7 supported bone strength and bone density but did not report on fractures.
1 study used vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) at a dosage of 500 mcg/day and showed a reduced rate of fractures.
It’s clear that vitamin K is important for bone health, but the best form and dosage is still hotly debated. Proponents of MK4 cite numerous studies that have been conducted in Japan over the years and shown benefit. Proponents of MK7 say that it is a smaller molecule and better absorbed than MK7, allowing for lower dosages to be beneficial.
This recent report on vitamin K reminds us that bone health depends on more than just calcium. Bones depend on a combination of healthy proteins, vitamins, and minerals, all working together.
Want to include more foods into the diet that support healthy bone growth? Try These:
Cruciferous Veggies such as broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts and cabbage (rich in vitamin K, calcium and magnesium
Nuts and seeds such as almonds, walnuts, pumpkin and sesame seeds (rich in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and omega 3’s)
Beans such as kidney beans, black beans, pinto beans and edamame(rich in calcium, magnesium and phosphorus)
Fish such as rainbow trout, salmon and tuna (rich in vitamin D, omega 3’s as well as many minerals)
It’s #nationalosteoporosismonth, so there’s no better time to get your bone density tested! The National Osteoporosis Foundation recommends bone density scans for all women over the age of 65 and younger women with risk factors.
Fusaro M, Cianciolo G, Brandi ML et al. Vitamin K and Osteoporosis. Nutrients. 2020; 12: E3625.
Photo by Mathew Schwartz on Unsplash