Many of us are aware that Calcium is important to prevent osteoporosis. This is because our bones contain 99.5% of the total calcium in the body. This calcium within the bones is also utilized if the body should need it for other purposes. Calcium is needed for healthy heart, muscle and nerve function. In addition, it is necessary for blood clotting.
But what about the other 17 bone building nutrients for bone health? One that you may not know of is Vitamin K. This vitamin plays a vital role in improving bone quality. Vitamin K has been shown to increase bone mineral density and prevent fractures in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis. It does this by enhancing bone quality rather than increasing bone mass. So by increasing bone strength, risk for fracture decreases.
There are 2 types of Vitamin K. K1 (phyloquinone) is primarily in green leafy vegetables. K2 (menaquinone) is found in animal sources such as fermented dairy and soy products fish, meat, liver and eggs. It is also synthesized by bacteria in the intestine. K2 is the more effective of the two and the first choice of supplementation.
A safe upper limit of Vitamin K has not been established due to a lack of side effects, except for mild gastrointestinal complaints. According to research outcomes, 1000 micrograms of Vitamin K1 and 45 mg of Vitamin K2 has been suggested.
One main concern with Vitamin K is its ability to increase clotting factors. Therefore, those on Warfarin (coumadin) or other blood thinners need to speak to their physicians before starting Vitamin K supplements. This does not mean you need to avoid all foods with Vitamin K, but supplementing needs to be at a lower dose and monitored.
Reference: Higgs, D. & Kessenich, C. “Complementary Therapies in Osteoporosis”. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, p. 193-198.