Vitamin K turns out to be the “Rodney Dangerfield” of bone health vitamins- “it don’t get no respect” and no one talks about it. Instead, we talk about calcium and magnesium and vitamin D which of course are all very important, but the lesser acclaimed vitamin K is critically important for building strong bones as well.

Neither vitamin D nor calcium however can produce healthy bone mineralization without adequate supplies of vitamin K. Bone is a complex living structure comprising cells, mineral crystals and thick matrix proteins that hold the entire bone together like glue. Vitamin K actually activates a compound- called osteocalcin- that acts like studs inside the walls of a house. It’s a structural framework that helps hold calcium in the bones that anchors calcium molecules inside the bone. Vitamin K makes sure that you get that calcium into the bone where it belongs.

Vitamin K helps protect the bones also help protect against calcification in the blood vessels, a prime risk factor for a type of heart disease called atherosclerosis. In a well- known study of vitamin K called the Rotterdam Study, subjects with above average intake of vitamin K had reduced mortality from coronary heart disease. They also had a lower death rate in general. The authors suggested that adequate intake of vitamin K2 could be important in preventing coronary heart disease. And in the Nurses Health Study of 72,000 women, those who got the most vitamin K were about a third less likely to get a hip fracture. In fact, the effect of vitamin K in their diet was greater than the effect of synthetic estrogen. A double whammy: protection against both atherosclerosis and osteoporosis.

Vitamin K actually has three forms: K1 is found in foods, K2 is made in the body by intestinal bacteria, and K3 is a synthetic form available by prescription. All seem to work about the same. By keeping calcium in bone where it belongs, vitamin K may help prevent heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease and more.

Researchers now think that K is needed in larger quantities than what was once thought, particularly in aging adults. Recently it was shown that foods have less vitamin K than previously thought. Most multi-vitamins don’t contain any vitamin K at all, and the ones that do don’t contain enough for optimal health. Considering the importance of this vitamin, it’s reasonable to ask yourself if you’re getting enough.

Author's Bio: 

Jonny Bowden has a PhD in nutrition and a Masters degree in psychology and is the author of 5 books on health and nutrition. He invites you to listen to his free Super Foods audio course to learn the 7 Super Foods That Could Change Your Life.

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