Vitamin K?

“It does seem incredible that a disease that can be diagnosed and can be successfully treated is not a major health issue. We must do all we can to prevent, treat and ultimately cure this painful and life restricting disease. ”

– Baroness Julia Cumberlege, member House of Lords, former UK health minister, prominent osteoporosis advocate. Message on the occasion of the 2nd IOF Women Leaders Roundtable

Vitamin K?

shutterstock_7Vitamin K is a well-known Vitamin, essential for blood clotting. However, did you know that Vitamin K is also very important for your bone health? Low dietary intake of Vitamin K has been associated with an increased risk of fractures (especially in the hip and more prevalent in females). Your bone strength is therefore a result of more than just drinking milk. Calcium is very important to you for developing strong bones, but Vitamin D (mostly through sunshine) and Vitamin K (found in green leafy vegetables) are also very important.

High dietary vitamin K can be found in your diet as green leafy vegetables. Foods like kale, spinach, green beans, broccoli, Brussel sprouts etc, – 1 serving (cup) of Kale will provide over 1000 micrograms (almost 10x the recommended daily amount). Other foods include fermented soy foods (example- miso), cheese, grass fed eggs and meats, as well as fruits and vegetables (which also have high minerals, potassium and magnesium, aiding in bone strength) – kiwifruit, blueberries, prunes and grapes.

We know Osteoporosis cannot be reversed, however research into Vitamin K and the effects on bone health (in conjunction with exercise, vitamin C and Vitamin D) has been shown to slow the rate of bone weakening (especially in women after menopause), increase bone strength, decrease fractures in women with osteoporosis and possibly increase the effectiveness of osteoporosis medications.

When your body does not have the required amount of Vitamin K (apart from symptoms of anaemia, bruising and bleeding) you have a greater risk of osteoporosis. Vitamin K deficiency is increased with (among other things):

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Poor eating or restricted diets
  • Coeliac disease

There is also research available which shown Vitamin K may improve insulin sensitivity (Yoshida et all (2008). This is very new and further research is required to validate the results.

A warning: If you are pregnant or if you have experienced a stroke, cardiac arrest or prone to blood clotting, please consult your doctor prior to taking any vitamin K supplementation.

We know getting Vitamin D and Calcium are very important for bone health, now it’s time to ensure you are reaching your levels of Vitamin K too. These 3 nutrients do not share common food sources – so a healthy diet is essential. Add in some loading exercise and you are doing your part to keep the bones healthy and strong.

Booth, S. Broe, K. Gagnon, D. Tucker, K. Hannan, M. McLean, R. Dawson-Hughes, B. Wilson, P. Cupples, A. Kiel, D (2003) Vitamin K intake and bone mineral density in women and men. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 77:512–6.

Gundberg, C (2009) Kitamin K and Bone: Past, Present and Future. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research, 24:6, 980–982

Yoshida, M. Jacques, P. Meigs, J. Saltzman, E. Shea, K. PHD1, Gundberg, C. Dawson-Hughes, B. Dallal, G. Booth, S. (2008) Effect of Vitamin K Supplementation on Insulin Resistance in Older Men and Women. Diabetes Care 31:2092–2096

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