Vitamin K and Osteoporosis— What’s the connection?

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Before you are prescribed bisphosphonates: Fosamax, Actonel, Boniva, Reclast or Zometa, maybe you should consider the Undoctored strategy.

The grain-free diet, vitamin D, and magnesium protocols in the core Undoctored program provide the bulk of bone health benefits through a variety of mechanisms, including increased intestinal calcium absorption, reduced urinary calcium loss, and reduced levels of the parathyroid hormone that weakens bones.

You should also avoid calcium supplements, as the effects of vitamin D and the increased intestinal calcium absorption that develops after eliminating calcium-binding phytates from grains make them unnecessary, even dangerous. And there are two more important strategies to consider…

It is so important that you get enough vitamin K2 and K1. The necessity of this less-well-known form of vitamin K, to be distinguished from the K1 found in green vegetables, has only been recognized recently. K1 participates in blood coagulation, while K2 modulates calcium metabolism, with deficiency contributing to loss of bone calcium leading to osteoporosis, hip and other fractures, and abnormal deposition of calcium in arteries, part of the atherosclerotic process leading to heart attacks. Deficiency may also contribute to cancer risk, especially prostate cancer.

Vitamin K2 is obtained from consumption of meat and organs, egg yolks, butter (from grass-fed animals only), and foods that undergo some forms of bacterial fermentation, especially cheeses and natto (fermented soybeans).

A small quantity is obtained via bacterial conversion from K1 to K2 by some species of human bowel flora to K2 in the human intestine. I therefore suspect that the apparent need/benefit from K2 supplementation in rebuilding bone density (and reducing cardiovascular risk) may be yet another expression of modern dysbiosis. Because K2 supplementation is benign, it is a reasonable strategy to consider stacking the odds in favor of rebuilding bone or preventing osteopenia/osteoporosis, especially since the precise way to encourage bacterial conversion of K1 to K2 has not been worked out.

Vitamin K2 has been demonstrated to increase bone density and reduce fractures. (In Japan, K2 is prescribed as a drug to treat osteoporosis.) The long-acting MK-7 form, rather than the short-acting MK-4 form, is the most effective at a dose of 180 to 200 micrograms per day, such as contained in the Life Extension Super K preparation.

Getting 4 to 5 servings every day of green vegetables that provide plenty of vitamin K1 as well as other health benefits is also helpful. Vitamin K1 supplementation, as opposed to getting it from green vegetables, does not appear to hold the same bone density–increasing potential, and consuming plenty of green vegetables seems to be a more effective means of obtaining bone health, as well as other health benefits.

Note that people taking the blood thinner warfarin (Coumadin) will need to work with their healthcare providers, as both K1 and K2 supplementation will counteract the effect of the drug, an effect that can pose dangers if supplementation is not done properly (e.g., low doses of K vitamins, either K1 or K2, taken in consistent amounts every day to avoid excessive fluctuations of the INR value). Another option would be to convert to a blood thinner that does not interact with the K vitamins.

Get up and move. Do axial-impact or weight-bearing exercises. Exercise that involves impact to the spine (“axial” impact), like jumping rope, jogging, stair climbing, hopping in place, and dancing, but not swimming or biking (though healthy for other reasons), has dramatic effects on increasing bone density. Jumping in place 10 to 20 times, or taking a 20 minute walk, everyday achieves measurable increases in bone density.

The post Vitamin K and Osteoporosis— What’s the connection? appeared first on Dr. William Davis.

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