Vitamin D is recommended by doctors for bone health because it helps improve your calcium absorption. But did you know that there is a lesser-known nutrient that you should not miss out on? Recent research says that vitamin K2 plays a significant role in optimal bone health and may even help you avoid bone fractures in your senior years.
A study published in Osteoporosis International found that postmenopausal women who had a lifetime supplementation with calcium, vitamin D3, and vitamin K1 had a 20 percent reduced risk of fractures. When vitamin K1 was substituted with the more beneficial vitamin K2, the researchers found that the probability of developing fractures became 25 percent less. (link)
This is very important, since bone loss dramatically speeds up during the first 10 years after menopause, which is also the period when osteoporosis is more likely to develop.
Dr. Joseph Mercola says: “If you currently take calcium and vitamin D for your bones, it’s important that you also get plenty of vitamin K2. These three nutrients have a synergistic effect that cannot be achieved when one piece of the puzzle is missing.”
The Best Type of Vitamin K for Your Bones
There are two types of vitamin K:
- Vitamin K1 – This goes to your liver directly and helps you maintain optimal blood clotting function. It is also needed by infants to prevent a fatal bleeding disorder. Vitamin K1 is mostly acquired from green vegetables.
- Vitamin K2 – Produced by good bacteria, this type of vitamin K thrives in your gut. Unfortunately, it is not absorbed and is instead excreted through your stool. Vitamin K2 goes directly to your liver, vessel walls, tissues, and bones. This is why it is said to be more beneficial to your bone health.
Vitamin K2 comes in several forms: MK4, MK8, and MK9, and MK7. MK7 is considered the most beneficial. It has a longer-acting form and has practical applications. You can get it from natto, a Japanese fermented soy product, and fermented cheese. Vitamin K2 supplements are also available today.
How Does Vitamin K2 Improve the Vitamin D-Calcium Team?
Dr. Mercola explains how vitamin K2 improves the effects of vitamin D and calcium:
- Vitamin K2 directs calcium to your bones and prevents calcium deposits from forming in your joint spaces, organs, and arteries. Calcium deposits can cause dangerous arterial plaque to form (atherosclerosis). This is why while your bones benefit from calcium, your arteries may be damaged by this nutrient. Vitamin K2 activates osteocalcin, a protein hormone made from osteoblasts, which works by binding calcium to your bone matrix. Osteocalcin prevents calcium from being deposited into your arteries.
- Vitamin K2 prevents vitamin D3 from working against you. While vitamin K2 directs calcium to your bones, vitamin D acts as the “gatekeeper,” so that your body can absorb the nutrient. Without vitamin K to direct calcium, vitamin D3 would simply allow your body to absorb the nutrient everywhere – including your coronary arteries. According to recent studies, vitamin D toxicity may even arise if you have vitamin K2 deficiency (link).
Get These Essential Nutrients from Natural Sources
Dr. Mercola says that even if vitamin K2, vitamin D3, and calcium are available in supplement form, it is still a good idea to get them from natural sources. Here are some simple guidelines you should remember:
- The best dietary sources of vitamin K2 are green, leafy vegetables and fermented foods like raw milk cheeses and natto. Dr. Mercola says that K2 supplementation is also a good idea, especially for people who do not get sufficient amounts of dietary vitamin K2. “You must use caution with vitamin K if you take anticoagulants, but if you are generally healthy and not on these types of medications, I suggest 150 to 300 mcg daily,” he says.
- Vitamin D3 can be acquired from proper sun exposure. The vitamin D you get from sunlight works as a pro-hormone and transforms into vitamin D3 (25-hydroxyvitamin D) in your skin. If you live in an area with inadequate sunlight, Dr. Mercola recommends using a safe tanning bed or taking an oral vitamin D3 supplement. Be sure you monitor your vitamin D levels adequately to make sure you stay within the therapeutic range.
- Calcium is best absorbed by your body in its food form. Your best options are raw milk and cheese, sesame seeds, wheatgrass, the pith of citrus fruits, carob, and green leafy vegetables.
Dr. Mercola says exercising is also essential to your bone and optimal health. He recommends weight-bearing exercise, which will greatly benefit your skeletal system.
“My favorite is Peak Fitness, but it is also very important to do strength-training exercises to produce the dynamic electric forces in your bones that will stimulate the osteoblasts to produce new bone,” he explains.
He also recommends minimizing sugar and grain consumption. Instead, include fresh, organic whole foods from local sources – such as vegetables, organic meats, eggs, raw organic unpasteurized dairy, and nuts and seeds – in your diet.
“The more of your diet you consume RAW, the better nourished you will be,” reminds Dr. Mercola.