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Vitamin K: The Forgotten Vitamin and its Role in Bone Health

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Bones & Joints related image Photo: Getty Images

Have you heard about the “forgotten vitamin?” While we all know the importance and benefits of vitamin D and calcium, especially in matters of bone health issues, there has been a substantial increase in awareness of vitamin K and its role in promoting healthy bones.

Vitamin K is being touted for its role in building strong bones and keeping them healthy. It also aids in boosting the vascular system, promoting a healthy heart, enhancing one’s memory, and helps fight against pre-mature aging. (I like that last one!)

However, before we dive right into this awesome vitamin, be advised that there are certain synthetic forms of it that can put your health at risk, so it is imperative to know more about it. You want to be able to use vitamin K to your benefit, not to your detriment!

Studies have suggested that as much as 99 percent of the population could be deficient in this nutrient. Why? Well, for starters, vitamin K is fat-soluble, and if your diet does not have sufficient amounts of dietary fat in it for efficient absorption, then this vitamin may not have an impact on your good health.
If you eat a poor or restricted diet, or are suffering from Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, celiac disease, or any other condition that will not allow for nutrient absorption, you could be at risk for being deficient in vitamin K.

Discovered by Dr. Henrik Dam in 1929, vitamin K (which stands for "koagulation") is necessary for blood clotting. However, it is also unique in that it has many effects on your body, with research uncovering effects on the skeletal system, the brain, the liver, and the pancreas. Vitamin K is taking a strong lead as one of the most promising nutrients today.

There are three main forms of vitamin K: K1 (phylloquinone or phytonadione); K2 (menaquinone) and K3 (menadione synthetic variant). Be aware that vitamin K3 is a synthetic form of the vitamin that is not recommended for human consumption, and you need to avoid it.

Lettuce, broccoli, and spinach all contain vitamin K1. Vitamin K2 is a natural, non-toxic vitamin made in the body as well. It can be found in meats and fermented products, such as cheese and natto, which is an ancient Japanese food – a fermented soybean food. However, not many people readily eat fermented foods, and when vitamin K1 is consumed through green, leafy vegetables, studies have suggested that just about 10-15 percent get absorbed.

One of the inherent problems with vitamin K is that, unlike tests for vitamin D, there is not as accurate of a test out there now to determine how much of this nutrient is actually absorbed in the body. However, the potential advantages of vitamin K are great. It promotes heart health, protects and supports the skin, provides the calcium path from your bloodstream to your bones and can boost your overall immune system, among other things.

For purposes of this article, evidence supports the theory that vitamin K plays a pivotal role in bone metabolism and healthy bone growth. Vitamin K has been linked to osteoblasts, which are the cells that generate bone, producing the protein osteocalcin, which is more or less the framework that holds the calcium in place in the bones. Without vitamin K, osteocalcin cannot do its job effectively.

In short, vitamin K is what allows the calcium in your bloodstream to flow into your bones and bone marrow. Without vitamin K aggressively at work in your body, your bones would not have the strength that they need. Vitamin K has been shown to help maintain your bones.

In short, there are a host of articles and studies on the web that speak to vitamin K and its role in bone health. Admittedly, many such articles are steeped in deep medical terms that go beyond my own comprehension. However, I wanted to shed some light on what some have coined as the “forgotten vitamin.” Please make sure to do your research as to what forms are safe and what forms should be avoided. After all, knowing that vitamin K has a significant impact on our bone health, why should calcium and vitamin D get all the attention?
(Information for this article was found at http://products.mercola.com/vitamin-k/)

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.