When you think of nutrients to support bone health, you probably think of calcium and vitamin D. And when you think of vitamin K, its role in helping blood to clot may come to mind. But vitamin K and healthy bones go hand in hand, and this vitamin is critical for building strong bones and maintaining your frame.
The body needs vitamin K to use calcium to build bone. People who have higher levels of vitamin K have greater bone density, while low levels of this vitamin have been found in individuals with osteoporosis. In fact, some studies suggest that low levels of vitamin K are linked to a higher risk of osteoporosis. Research also finds that vitamin K may help reduce the risk of bone fractures, particularly in postmenopausal women, and may help improve bone health in athletes.
There are two basic types of vitamin K:
Vitamin K1 is found in leafy green vegetables like spinach, turnip greens, and kale. This type of vitamin K goes directly to the liver and helps maintain a healthy blood clotting system. K1 also helps maintain blood vessel health and it helps our bones retain calcium.
Vitamin K2 is produced by bacteria and is present in high quantities in the gut. It goes straight to the blood vessel walls, bones, and tissues other than the liver. K2 is found in some fermented foods, but the Japanese food natto is by far the richest source.
The body can convert vitamin K1 to K2, but the amount of vitamin K2 produced by this process is typically insufficient. Scientific evidence is finding that vitamin K2 as menaquinone-7, or MK-7, may be a superior form of vitamin K. MK-7, which is the bioactive form of vitamin K2 found in natto, is 10 times better absorbed than K1 from spinach. It works synergistically with a number of other nutrients, including calcium and vitamin D, to help move calcium into the proper areas of your body, like your bones. It also helps remove calcium from where it shouldn't be, like your arteries.
Some experts suggest that as many as 80 percent of Americans do not get enough K2 from diet alone to activate the proteins that transport calcium. Insufficient K2 leaves you vulnerable to not only osteoporosis but also heart disease and stroke. Furthermore, if you already have these conditions, it's likely you're deficient in vitamin K2.
If you don't regularly eat foods high in vitamin K2, such as fermented foods like natto (most Westerners can't tolerate the smell and slimy texture of natto), grass-fed organic animal products, and certain cheeses such as gouda and brie, your likelihood of deficiency is still high.
If you're considering a vitamin K2 supplement, look for formulas containing MK-7. This form of K2 is not only better absorbed than K1 but also stays in the body longer and has a longer half-life than vitamin K1, meaning you can take it just once a day.
Vitamin K2 is a fat-soluble vitamin, so be sure to take your supplement with a little fat to ensure optimal absorption.
© 2016 GeniusCental Systems, Inc.
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