Traditionally, vitamin K was only really known for its role with blood clotting. However, vitamin K has gained a fair bit of attention in the last few years as new information has shed light on the many of its previously unknown functions in the body. Most of this new attention has focused around its importance with bone health. In this week’s article we will examine the roles that vitamin K plays with creating and maintaining healthy bone structure.
What is vitamin K?
Vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin that was discovered in the 1930’s by Danish biochemist Henrik Dam. In his research, he discovered that vitamin K was required to prevent bleeding hemorrhages. Later research eventually showed that there are actually two forms of vitamin K, vitamin K1 and vitamin K2. Vitamin K1 is more associated with blood clotting while vitamin K2 is more associated with bone health and calcium distribution.
Vitamin K2 and Bones
Vitamin K2 from food or supplement helps to increase bone strength and prevent bone degredation by a few different mechanisms. First of all, vitamin K2 stimulates the activation of osteocalcin, a hormone that promotes bone building and remodelling. Secondly, vitamin K2 promotes proper estrogen metabolism, which helps prevent post-menopausal bone thinning. Finally, vitamin K2 stimulates matrix gla protein (MGP), which redirects calcium from soft tissues towards the bones to increase bone strength.
Vitamin K2 and Calcium
Vitamin K2 works with calcium so the body uses calcium appropriately in the bones, dental tissue, and other areas of the body. Recent research has shown that high calcium consumption or supplementation may lead to health consequences like calcifications in the soft tissues of the body. This has lead some health care professionals to recommend avoiding calcium supplementation. However, vitamin K2 may be the missing ingredient for many people taking calcium supplements. By activating osteocalcin vitamin K2 encourages calcium to be directed into the bones and teeth. By activating matrix gla protein (MGP), vitamin K helps escort calcium out of the arteries, veins, and other soft tissues.
Sources of Vitamin K2
Vitamin K2 can be obtained in relatively healthy amounts from a diet that focuses on vitamin K2-rich foods. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is relatively deficient in vitamin K2-rich foods and is one of the reasons so many people are deficient in vitamin K2. The best sources of vitamin K2 are dark green leafy vegetables, free-range eggs, grass fed beef, butter/ghee from grass-fed cows, and natto. It is very important to note that the vitamin K2 in grass fed chickens, beef, and other animals is due to their grass-fed diet. The amount of vitamin K2 available in grass-fed animal products is directly related to the animal’s consumption of chlorophyll-rich green foods. Conventional grain-fed animal products are not a rich source of vitamin K2.
If you have questions about vitamin K2, bone health, or would like to schedule a consultation with Dr. Barlow contact his office at 250-448-5610 or visit his website at www.drbrentbarlownd.com