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Are you feeling it in your bones? Five ways to keeping your bones fit with help from Vitamin K2

August 2019 Print
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Do you love your bones? Every single day your body breaks down old bone and replaces it to protect your brain, heart, and other organs from injury – and of course, allow movement. Yes, they’re pretty essential to a fully functioning human body. Your bones also store minerals like calcium and phosphorous helping to keep them strong;[1] yet they’re easy to injure and if not looked after, can cause serious health issues later in life.

1.2 million Australians suffer from osteoporosis and a further 6.3 million have low bone density[2]

When your bones lose minerals like calcium more quickly than the body can replace them, loss of bone density occurs, which can eventually cause osteoporosis. This is when your bones become thinner, more porous and prone to fracture – severe cases can occur from just a minor bump.[3]

90 per cent of bone fractures occur in people aged 50 and over.[4] Women are at a greater risk due to their rapid decline in oestrogen levels during menopause when bones lose more calcium and other minerals; and while men also lose bone mass as they age, their testosterone levels decline more gradually.[5]

Your oral health is also a strong indicator of osteoporosis so keep an eye on loose teeth and detached or receding gums. Female osteoporosis sufferers are three times more likely to experience tooth loss than those who don’t have the disease.[6] Osteoporosis may also be accelerated by endocrine disorders, intestinal disorders reducing your absorption of vitamin D, and eating disorders; while glucocorticoid therapy often used for inflammatory and respiratory issues can weaken bones when taken over a long period. [7]

It's the relatively unknown but all-important K2 vitamin that your bones love

Vitamin K is a family of two fat-soluble vitamins (K1 and K2) that produce prothrombin, a crucial protein in blood clotting, bone metabolism and heart health[8]. Only discovered in 1929, K1 is responsible for the coagulation of blood while K2 supports your heart and bones and is essential for the metabolism of calcium.[9] 

 

K2 is produced by gut bacteria in your large intestine[10] but in your diet it is best found in dairy (especially hard cheeses) where you’ll also boost bone-loving calcium stores. K2 is also present in organ meats, beef, pork, egg yolks, chicken, fatty fish like salmon[11] and fermented products like sauerkraut and yoghurt. For lovers of Japanese, you’re in luck, as one of K2’s highest sources is natto – a traditional dish of fermented soybeans.[12]

Your bone mass peaks by around your 30th birthday and then you're using up stores[13]


It’s never too late look after your bones – here’s five ways to help avoid the ramifications of being bone idle.

  1.  Get some sunshine: Vitamin D supports skeleton growth and maintenance, and regulates blood calcium levels.[14] Get your D in the sun – experts recommend 10 minutes of sun exposure daily without sunscreen (15-20 minutes in winter).[15] And make sure you stock up on fresh seafood – salmon, herring, sardines, prawns and oysters – or try for tinned tuna. [16] Why not make it an alfresco picnic by the water while you’re at it for an extra boost.
  2. Don’t resist the weights: Weight-bearing and resistance exercises help your bones and muscles work against gravity, which supports good bone health.[17] They include walking, hiking, jogging, climbing stairs, playing tennis, dancing and lifting weights. But protect your spine if you do have osteoporosis or low bone mass – to lower the risk of breaking a bone, experts recommend avoiding high-impact exercises or those that flex, bend, or twist the spine.[18]
  3. Rethink your drinks: Lessen the caffeine, soft drinks and alcohol and aim for more water and herbal teas. Ditto to lower salt intake.[19]  And did you know that smoking cigarettes prevents your body from using the calcium in your diet and can advance menopause too?[20]
  4. Care for your calcium: The best source of calcium is dairy, so try for a couple of servings each day. For those choosing alternative ‘dairy’ sources such as nut milks, be sure to check they’ve been fortified with calcium – the nuts themselves are high in the mineral but the milks are not. If soy or coconut milk is your preference, again look for those that with added calcium. Sesame seeds, prawns, sardines and dark green vegies also contain calcium.[21]
  1. And be sure to keep up with the K’s: Vitamin K2 can improve your bone strength, but it won’t reverse osteoporosis.[22] However, research reveals that supplementation may slow down the rate of bone weakening after menopause, increase bone strength, decrease the number of fractures in women with osteoporosis, and boost osteoporosis medication the effectiveness.[23] Look for Vitamin K2 MK- 7 supplements that have demonstrated greater bioavailability[24] – but if you’re taking certain blood-thinning drugs, including warfarin, please avoid K2.[25] As always, check with your health practitioner before taking any new supplement.

References

[1] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (US) Bone Health for Life: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family, April 2018, accessed 8 July 2019

[2] Osteoporosis Australia, About Osteoporosis, undated, accessed 8 July 2019

[3] Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Bone Health, April 2014, accessed 8 July 2019

[4] NE Lane, Epidemiology, etiology, and diagnosis of osteoporosis [abstract]. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 2006. 194(2 Suppl): p. S3-11, cited in Eagle Professional Natural Medicine, Tech Sheet: Calcium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2 and Key Nutrient Cofactors for Healthy Bones for Life, undated, accessed 8 July 2019
[5] Osteoporosis Australia, Risk Factors, undated, accessed 8 July 2019

[6] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (US), Oral Health and Bone Disease, November 2018, accessed 8 July 2019

[7] NE Lane, Epidemiology, etiology, and diagnosis of osteoporosis [abstract]. Am J Obstet Gynecol, 2006. 194(2 Suppl): p. S3-11, as cited in Eagle Professional Natural Medicine, Tech Sheet: Calcium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2 and Key Nutrient Cofactors for Healthy Bones for Life, undated, accessed 8 July 2019
[8] Osteoporosis Australia, Vitamin K, accessed 8 July 2019

[9] J Leech, Vitamin K2: Everything You Need to Know, Healthline, 21 September 2018, accessed 8 July 2019

[10] J Leech, Vitamin K2: Everything You Need to Know, Healthline, 21 September 2018, accessed 8 July 2019

[11] J Eske, What to know about vitamin K-2, Medical News Today, 29 April 2019, accessed 8 July 2019

[12] Osteoporosis Australia, Vitamin K, accessed 8 July 2019

[13] Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Bone Health, April 2014, accessed 8 July 2019

[14] Osteoporosis Australia, Vitamin D, 14 July 2017, accessed 8 July 2019

[15] Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Bone Health, April 2014, accessed 8 July 2019

[16] T Jones, 9 Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D, Healthline, 12 September 2018, accessed 8 July 2019

[17] Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Bone Health, April 2014, accessed 8 July 2019

[18] National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (US), Exercise for Your Bone Health, October 2018, accessed 8 July 2019

[19] Jean Hailes for Women’s Health, Bone Health, April 2014, accessed 8 July 2019

[20]National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (US) Bone Health for Life: Health Information Basics for You and Your Family, April 2018, accessed 8 July 2019

[21] B Krans, Comparing Milks: Almond, Dairy, Soy, Rice, and Coconut, Healthline, 29 May 2019, accessed 8 July 2019

[22] Osteoporosis Australia, Vitamin K, accessed 8 July 2019

[23] Osteoporosis Australia, Vitamin K, undated, accessed 8 July 2019

[24] Sato, T., L.J. Schurgers, and K. Uenishi, Comparison of menaquinone-4 and menaquinone-7 bioavailability in healthy women [abstract]. Nutr J, 2012. 11: p. 93 as cited in Eagle Professional Natural Medicine, Tech Sheet: Calcium, Vitamin D3, Vitamin K2 and Key Nutrient Cofactors for Healthy Bones for Life, undated, accessed 8 July 2019

[25] Osteoporosis Australia, Vitamin K, accessed 8 July 2019

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