26 May 2016
Beyond Calcium and D3: The Role of Vitamin K2 for Bone Health
Millions of women take calcium supplements to maintain healthy bone and prevent osteoporosis and osteopenia. Yet few of us realize that creating the best bone health involves more than taking a single mineral supplement. Recent research has shown that vitamin K2 is an important addition to make sure that calcium goes to bone and is not deposited in blood vessels.
Why Vitamin K is Essential for Healthy Arteries and Bones
Current research is focusing on the importance of nutritional solutions to control the link between arterial and bone diseases by addressing calcium metabolism in the body; studying in particular the role of vitamin K2.
In nature, vitamin K is found in two forms: vitamin K1 (phylloquinone) in leafy, green vegetables, and vitamin K2 (menaquinone) in fermented vegetables, organ meats, egg yolks, and dairy products.
Vitamin K is required by the human liver to manufacture blood-clotting proteins. Beyond its role in blood clotting, recent research has revealed that vitamin K also plays a vital role in maintaining healthy bones and arteries. It acts like a “traffic cop”; keeping calcium in the bones and out of the arteries.
Your body can convert K1 to K2 to some extent, but the process is not very efficient and generally doesn’t provide the amount you need.
Without vitamin K2, calcium may deposit in arteries which increases the risk of cardiovascular diseases like heart attack and stroke. It may also have a role in cancer prevention.
What’s the Best Dose of Vitamin K?
Current dietary guidelines for vitamin K focus on how much is needed to regulate blood clotting and have largely ignored the higher amount needed to maintain healthy bones and arteries.
Vitamin K1 occurs naturally in green leafy vegetables, whereas vitamin K2 is found in relatively few foods, so it’s unlikely that most of us will get it from our diet. Organ meats, egg yolks, and the Japanese condiment natto, are good sources of vitamin K2. Natto is by far the richest source, unfortunately it is an acquired taste and a dish that the average American may be unwilling to try. Vitamin K2 is also found in modest quantities in traditionally fermented cheeses like Swiss Emmental and Norwegian Jarlsberg.
Vitamin K2 appears to be safe, with no side effects identified even at high doses.
What dose of vitamin K2 is best? Scientists are still debating this question. Supplements generally contain between 45 mcg and 1,000 mcg of vitamin K2. There are several different kinds of K2. The MK-7 type is the most effective and what you should look for in your supplement because it is more stable and stays in your body longer. I use and recommend this product which contains a combination of 5000IU of vitamin D3 (also important for bone health) and 45 mcg of MK-7 K2.
If you take Coumadin® (warfarin), use of vitamin K should be discussed with your healthcare provider before you begin, as changes in blood thinning will occur and closer monitoring is required.
Dr. Anna Garrett is a menopause expert and Doctor of Pharmacy. She helps women who are struggling with symptoms of perimenopause and menopause find natural hormone balancing solutions so they can rock their mojo through midlife and beyond. Her clients would tell you that her real gift is helping them reclaim parts of themselves they thought were gone forever.
Find out more about working with her at https://www.drannagarrett.com/work-with-me/.