You may be aware that vitamin D and calcium are a powerful duo for bone health, including the prevention of osteoporosis. One of the undisputed benefits of vitamin D is that it helps you ABSORB calcium – this link has been known for many decades.
But there is also evidence that vitamin K, and specifically vitamin K2, is another key player in your bone health, and may be just as crucial in helping you prevent bone fractures as you age.
A Powerful Nutrient Trio to Reduce Your Osteoporosis Risk
A study published in Osteoporosis International has concluded that lifetime supplementation with vitamin K1 or, even better, K2, vitamin D3, and calcium is likely to reduce fractures and increase survival in postmenopausal women. Bone loss speeds up most dramatically during the first 10 years after menopause, which is the period when osteoporosis is most likely to develop.Why Vitamin K is So Important if You Take Calcium and Vitamin D
Many are under the mistaken impression that a prescription drug combined with calcium supplements is the answer to strong healthy bones, but the regular consumption of a healthy diet, along with safe sun exposure and extra supplementation when appropriate, is likely to be far superior.
Theorizing that vitamin K might have a role in the primary prevention of fractures, researchers studied the cost-effectiveness of various interventions for preventing fractures in 50-year-old postmenopausal women. They learned that the vitamin K1, vitamin D3, and calcium combination could reduce the lifetime probability of at least one fracture by 20 percent, but adding vitamin K2 to vitamin D3 reduced it by 25 percent.
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. Specifically, here's a simple explanation of why the benefits of calcium and vitamin D are largely dependent on vitamin K:The Vitamin That Is 'as Good as Drugs' at Reducing Blood Pressure
- Calcium: There is new evidence that it is vitamin K (specifically, vitamin K2) that directs calcium to your skeleton, while preventing it from being deposited where you don't want it -- i.e., your organs, joint spaces, and arteries. A large part of arterial plaque consists of calcium deposits (atherosclerosis), hence the term "hardening of the arteries."
Vitamin K2 activates a protein hormone called osteocalcin, produced by osteoblasts, which is needed to bind calcium into the matrix of your bone. Osteocalcin also appears to help prevent calcium from depositing into your arteries. So while increasing calcium is good for your bones, it is not so good for your arteries, which can become calcified. Vitamin K helps protect your blood vessels from calcifying when in the presence of high calcium levels.
- Vitamin D3: As mentioned, vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium, but vitamin K directs that calcium to your skeleton where it's needed. You can think of vitamin D as the gatekeeper, controlling who gets in, and vitamin K as the traffic cop, directing the traffic to where it needs to go. Lots of traffic -- but no traffic cop -- means clogging, crowding and chaos everywhere!
In other words, without the help of vitamin K2, the calcium that your vitamin D so effectively lets in might be working AGAINST you -- by building up in your coronary arteries rather than your bones. There is even evidence that the safety of vitamin D is dependent on vitamin K, and that vitamin D toxicity (although very rare with the D3 form) is actually caused by vitamin K2 deficiency.
One of the best parts about optimizing your levels of vitamin D3 is that you will experience a host of beneficial "side effects" – even above and beyond your bone health.
In research presented at the European Society of Hypertension conference in London, scientists studying the effects of vitamin D3 supplementation on heart health reported that they've found that patients with high blood pressure can experience significant improvements in their condition by taking only the supplement, without high-power drugs. The majority of the study's participants were deficient in vitamin D, and while scientists stopped short of recommending vitamin D be substituted for blood pressure drugs, they did say the study shows that supplementation with vitamin D was "as powerful" as the drugs.
- New research revealed that lifetime supplementation with vitamin K, vitamin D3, and calcium is likely to reduce fractures and increase survival in postmenopausal women
- A vitamin K1, vitamin D3, and calcium combination was found to reduce the lifetime probability of at least one fracture by 20 percent, but adding vitamin K2 to vitamin D3 reduced it by 25 percent
- If you currently take calcium and vitamin D for your bones, it’s important that you also get plenty of vitamin K2, as these three nutrients have a synergistic effect on your bone (and overall) health
- One of the best ways to achieve healthy bones is a diet rich in fresh, raw whole foods that maximizes natural vitamins and minerals, fermented foods loaded with vitamin K2, along with healthy sun exposure and regular, weight-bearing exercise